A Message From Doug On Conspiracy Theories
I’m fascinated by conspiracy theories. When I was young, I used to get suckered into believing them from time to time. The first one I paid attention to was about the Beatles, how Paul McCartney, according to the story, had died in a car crash and the rest of the band had covered it up by replacing him with a lookalike. My friends and I used to pore over all the so-called clues on the album covers. It was exciting to think there was a truth out there that had been hidden and we were part of the recovery.
As a grown up, I’m less interested in the theories themselves than in how they get started and take hold. At RadioWest, we’ve produced a number of shows that have explored how these stories work. One scholar told us the theories are a struggle for solidarity, a desire to feel included. In another show, a journalist said this is just part of our national identity, and that pretty much all of us are capable of paranoid thinking. Turns out, they really take off in times of upheaval. He said whether they’re crazy or not, a conspiracy story says something true about the anxieties of the people who believe them and repeat them.
Which brings me to the RadioWest conspiracy theories. Actually, I’m not sure these technically qualify, but there are a surprising number of people out there who read our announcement about the summer break as … fishy. In no particular order:
Doug took a three-month vacation. In fact, someone at the gym told me he heard I was going on a big, weeks-long, fancy cruise. Nope. I hate cruises. If you don’t believe I was in the office this summer, check my timecard.
Doug is seriously ill. Cancer was even suggested — more than once. This is the kind of conspiracy theory that can give you wild thoughts: “Maybe they’re right ... maybe I am sick!” Again, false. I feel fine.
Doug is getting plastic surgery and needs the summer for the scars to heal (seriously). I loved this one. It’s a little flattering, but … I’m okay with the wrinkles on my face. (For now.)
RadioWest is never coming back. This was the most common theory, one that doesn’t have a cool boat story or conjure a mental image of my head wrapped in bandages. It’s just a suspicion that the hiatus is a big lie and the station has no intention of bringing us back. Maybe that’s the sort of anxiety we heard about in those RadioWest interviews.
The truth is, we really are coming back. Swear. Details coming soon.