In the mid 1980s, a little known cult known (in as original a way as possible) as the Jesus Christians decided on a major publicity stunt. They announced that several of their members were to prove their faith in the Lord by walking across the Nullarbor without supplies.
For those of my readers in mainland China, or in that wasteland of ignorance of geography which is the USA, the Nullarbor Plain is a flat, treeless expanse which straddles the eastern portion of southern Western Australia and the western portion of South Australia for, perhaps, a thousand miles. [To be honest, I have no real idea when it stops and starts, but most of my fellow Australians are under the general impression that it covers most of the land mass between Perth and Adelaide.]
Most people were under the impression that this was suicidal, but these acolytes made it across successfully, mostly because the occasional driver would stop and give them food and water out of kindness for their fellow humans.
The writer Jon Ronson has written at least one very interesting article in the intervening years about the Jesus Christians, which perhaps has added to their fame more than that walk across the Nullarbor.
As it was, a few years later I was to briefly work with one of the people who had walked across the Nullarbor. I found this out many years later when I read something about the walk – it was not something he used to talk about. He did not strike me as particularly unbalanced at the time we worked together, although I did find him a little quirky (but that is a pot and kettle thing, to be honest). He decided that the conformity of office life was not for him and he departed a couple of years later.
I was thinking about this today when I was reading my feed on MeWe, my half abandoned social media account which crashed on me 18 months ago. I recently discovered that MeWe is a haven for conspiracy theorists of all sorts, so I decided to give MeWe another go, just for laughs.
Given that there is a large number of people in the world who suffer from mental illness, and many others who suffer from substance abuse, and many others who might not suffer from either, but still believe in matters which are not exactly rational, there are all sorts of bizarre things that people believe.
Like, did you know that 8% of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive? That sounds pretty wacky to me.
Of course, right now, we have QAnon being really topical. QAnon seems to be all about how Donald Trump is leading a secret fight against a Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals who really rule the world.
People actually believe this stuff.
But some do not, and I found someone who does not believe it on MeWe this morning. This person has been studying QAnon’s revelations in detail and has become disillusioned. He writes:
‘Q lies about vaccines not all being bad, lies that a plane hitting the pentagon 9/11, lies that aliens exist in fake outer space, and tells you to believe the globe while making a SPACE FORCE with ‘GUARDIANS’ for the fake alien invasion, and go research flat earth.’
I cannot make this stuff up! If for no other reason, that, as you would see from reading this blog, I am able to write in a clear and coherent manner, with few grammatical or other errors.
This writer goes on to warn us that:
. all vaccines are bad
. the Earth is flat with a firmament dome
. aliens are fake and made in cloning labs
. UFOs are from stolen Tesla tech (I assume he means the physicist and not the electric car company)
. they are about to fake the alien invasion
. a plane did not hit the pentagon – it was a cruise missile.
Evidence was provided to the MeWe poster by God when he popped the song Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera into his head. He concludes: ‘Q is not of God and will not save you from New World Order. Only Jesus can save you from New World Order. TURN TO HIM!‘
So, what this chap is really letting us know is that compared to the 9/11 Truthers, the Anti-Vaxxers, and the Flat Earthers, QAnon actually seems relatively reasonable – although ONLY in comparison to those three former groups.
I guess the jury is still out on whether QAnon is acceptable to Obama Birthers, or to people who believe in the Roswell crash etc.
But I probably should not laugh about these bizarre matters at the moment. The same sort of people who are waiting for Elvis to reappear or for the second coming of Jesus are the same sort of people with a hard wired eschatological outlook who are going to believe the ideas of QAnon or that vaccinations are dangerous or that 5G causes COVID or that the US election was not fair and free (for the record, I believe it was a fair and free election).
In the USA right now, there are people praying for Trump to declare martial law the way that General Flynn has suggested he can do to remain in power, or waiting for the Insurrection Act to be invoked. I read idiotic posts where people are asking whether Trump remains President as well or simply remains Commander in Chief after he invokes such powers. Good grief!
I was hoping, when the internet became ubiquitous, that people would become smarter. Instead, the computing power in your phone (which is more than what sent man to the moon) is no longer being used to post cat videos or to have arguments with strangers, it is being used to foster a new crazy kind of stupid.