Birds Aren’t Real, or Are They? Inside a Gen Z Conspiracy Theory.

Most Birds Aren’t Real members, lots of whom are a part of an on-the-ground activism community referred to as the Bird Brigade, grew up in a world overrun with misinformation. Some have kin who’ve fallen victim to conspiracy theories. So for members of Gen Z, the motion has change into a technique to collectively grapple with these experiences. By cosplaying conspiracy theorists, they’ve discovered group and kinship, Mr. McIndoe mentioned.

“Birds Aren’t Real is not a shallow satire of conspiracies from the outside. It is from the deep inside,” he mentioned. “A lot of people in our generation feel the lunacy in all this, and Birds Aren’t Real has been a way for people to process that.”

Cameron Kasky, 21, an activist from Parkland, Fla., who helped set up the March for Our Lives pupil protest in opposition to gun violence in 2018 and is concerned in Birds Aren’t Real, mentioned the parody “makes you stop for a second and laugh. In a uniquely bleak time to come of age, it doesn’t hurt to have something to laugh about together.”

Mr. McIndoe, too, marinated in conspiracies. For his first 18 years, he grew up in a deeply conservative and spiritual group with seven siblings outdoors Cincinnati, then in rural Arkansas. He was home-schooled, taught that “evolution was a massive brainwashing plan by the Democrats and Obama was the Antichrist,” he mentioned.

He learn books like “Remote Control,” about what it mentioned had been hidden anti-Christianity messages from Hollywood. In highschool, social media supplied a gateway to mainstream tradition. Mr. McIndoe started watching Philip DeFranco and different standard YouTubers who talked about present occasions and popular culture, and went on Reddit to search out new viewpoints.

“I was raised by the internet, because that’s where I ended up finding a lot of my actual real-world education, through documentaries and YouTube,” Mr. McIndoe mentioned. “My whole understanding of the world was formed by the internet.”

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