‘Birds Aren’t Real’: Whether comedy or conspiracy, the movement explains the post-truth era
via Birds Aren’t Real / Instagram
A lot of talking heads have remarked that we live in a post-truth era. In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary defined it as “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Media bias, political microtargeting, social media, fake news websites, Donald Trump, and man’s innate desire to prefer being right over correct, have all unwillingly conspired to create a society where people cling to tribal beliefs, regardless of their validity.
This has resulted in a social milieu where conspiracy theories have become mainstream. Sure, they’ve always been around, but they seem to have recently graduated from the basement to the mainstream.
Open up Facebook and you’re sure to find a post from someone about QAnon, flat-Earth theory, pizzagate, faked moon landings, false-flag shootings, 9/11 truth, Bill Gates’ microchips, and Birds Aren’t Real.
Yep, Birds Aren’t Real is a thing. A pretty big one, too. Birds Aren’t Real has over 300,000 followers on Instagram and 66,000 on Twitter. Plus, there are local Birds Aren’t Real chapters sprouting up all over the U.S.
The theory postulates that in the ’50s, the CIA began killing off America’s bird population and replacing them with flying surveillance robots. Birds Aren’t Real estimates there are currently 12 billion birds watching us from above.
The group recently held a rally in the non-specific town of Springfield.
However, it’s pretty clear that Birds Aren’t Real isn’t an actual conspiracy theory. Rather, a piece of comedic performance art revealing how ridiculous ideas take hold in the post-truth era.
Its de facto leader Peter McIndoe won’t tell you that it’s a fake conspiracy, at least not overtly.
“That’s one of the saddest things, that people consider that this could be some sort of mass-improvisational performance, or some sort of showcasing, highlighting a new era we’ve entered into as a society where anything can be true,” he told Newsweek. “Even if [the movement being satirical] was the case, you really wouldn’t even be able to tell.”
He thinks that if it were a parody movement, it could help people cope with living in absurd times.
“I think if it were a parody movement, that might be a point it was trying to make, or maybe, allowing people to cope with those types of presences in our society in a way where you can come together and laugh about the absurdity of a post-truth era, because it’s a horrifying thing,” he said. “The thing is, we’re not that, though.”
While for many, the conspiracy theory is a way to shine a light on the ridiculous conspiracy theories corrupting society, McIndoe claims he isn’t stopping until all of the birds are culled from the sky.
“The end to this project would only exist in the case of societal acceptance and shutting down the 12 billion robot birds that currently swarm the skies of our nation,” McIndoe said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.