Not too long ago, I found myself – not for the first time – trying to talk one of my conspiracy-theorizing friends out of another conspiracy theory (It happens a lot). I don’t remember specifics but I do recall something about esoteric power and secret information being kept from the masses for many a millennium. I’m pretty sure the Rosa Crucia was involved. Bildergerg, maybe. And oh yeah, DARPA too. Now it’s coming back to me. On and on about a data center in Colorada (?) Nevada(?) he went. “Why do they need all that processing power? What are they looking for?” To which I responded something along the lines of, “Could be anything I suppose but there seems to be a fairly well documented answer to that question, and yes, it is cause for concern but its too late for me – I’m a husband, a father and a homeowner. I’m all in.” In retrospect, I guess what I was saying was, not only do I have the wherewithal not to venture down the never-ending wormhole of right-and-left-wing conspiracy theories alike, I wouldn’t have the time to do so if I lacked that sense. But that’s not to say I prefer to keep my head in the sand – at least not exactly.
I bend pipe. I pull wire. And I do it forty hours a week. It’s not particularly conducive to answering the unanswerable questions proposed by conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory. But given my less than glorious workplace conditions (sometimes we don’t even have running water or toilet paper on the job much less wi-fi or a strong cellular signal) I think I stay pretty well apprised of worldly goings on.
So I went on in trying to talk my buddy down from his conspiratorial heights (though at this point I kinda felt like I was justifying my position in life) and, after some meandering explanation about the dynamics of power, our small place within them, the necessity of countervailing institutions, and something about the role that information technology can play in bringing power to the powerless, I said in frustration, “I’d so much rather you were a cyberterrorist than a conspiracy theorist”. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be lying if I said I knew enough to support everything about the open source movement but I can’t help but see great potential for major shifts in power from nation states to their citizens (see: Arab Spring) when I look at the capabilities that information technology lays before us. I then went on about Wikipedia, the open source movement as a whole, and vigilante hackers like Anonymous. And that’s where he stopped me dead in my tracks. “Anonymous?!” he asked, “That’s just a front for the CIA”.
Fucking conspiracy theorists. There’s just no talkin’ to ’em.