There’s a new conspiracy in town, and this one may stick around for a while.
“Birds Aren’t Real” claims the US government has been systematically eliminating our feathered friends and replacing them with drones since the 1960s.
Conspiracy theories are one of those peculiar byproducts of the information age. We have gay frogs, pizzagate, birthers, anti-vaxxers, flat-Earthers, Qanon, people who claim Australia doesn’t exist and others who swear the Olson twins are really just one person.
Some of these outrageous theories are hilarious and inoffensive, others quite dangerous and ill-intended.
Birds Aren’t Real is the one conspiracy to rule them all, a contrived, tongue-in-cheek fiction that mocks all conspiracies and pushes the limits of what people are willing to believe in.
The group claims that Allen Welsh Dulles, who became the first civilian Director of the CIA in the early 50s, carried out a nefarious plan that involved the killing of 12 billion birds between 1959 and 1971.
According to the conspiracy, Dulles, who history remembers as being particularly fond of covert operations (that much is true) was initially instructed to carry out this massive purge because the powers-at-be in Washington “were so annoyed that birds had been dropping fecal matter on their car windows that they vowed to wipe out every single flying feathered creature in North America”.
The initiative, allegedly code-named “Water the Country”, consisted of the deployment of modified B-52 bombers that routinely patrolled the night skies to spray a highly contagious virus that only affects birds, rotting their bones within 24 hours.
According to the Birds Aren’t Real “movement”, John F. Kennedy, the president at the time, called for an immediate halt of the villainous plot as soon as he discovered its existence – which is the real reason he was murdered.
The government, this tale continues, wiped out all the birds to replace them with robot copycats to surveil the population and get people hooked on drugs. Yeah.
According to “bird truthers”, these feathered drones quietly drop little bags of cocaine in the hands of random citizens as “a form of population control that the government still uses today, as no one who’s addicted to drugs directly attributes that to their own folly”.
“Instead – when they think back to the first event that introduced them to narcotics, its [sic] most often a bird that is to blame.”
You gotta give it to these guys, this sounds devilishly brilliant!
The movement, which is mostly an online shop that sells “Activism Gear”, has spread to more than 40 cities across the US, with an active “cell” in London.
The mind behind all this madness is 20-year-old Peter McIndoe, an English and philosophy major at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. He started the “bird brigade” in January 2017 at the Women’s March in Memphis.
In less than a year, his movement has landed on Reddit’s front page twice, has more than 50,000 followers on Instagram and recently got a nod from PewDiePie, one of the most popular YouTubers in the world.
In the end, Birds Aren’t Real is a fascinating reflection on contemporary culture and media: how is this different from the birtherism conspiracy or the allegations that climate change is a hoax devised by the Chinese? Both of which Donald Trump is a believer, by the way.
How long will it take for people to really believe in this? In this so-called post-truth era, is there any limit? How can society hold up when every fundamental notion is being put into question and torn down at convenience, and everybody seems to have a different version of reality?
Now, while you’re mulling over the evolution of society, I’d just like to remind you that there may, in fact, be a Chinese bird drone spying on you right now.