By now, you’ve probably seen the conspiracy theory about the military shutting down the power grid and disabling all cell phones and computers.
We started hearing about “November 4th” the other day, but it took a little time to find out about the great power grid conspiracy going around social media.
It never ceases to amaze me, even after all this time, how quick people are to accuse the media of failing to fact-check and rushing to publish something without getting the story straight, and then to publish anything on social media without doing any of that themselves.
This conspiracy theory centers on a planned training exercise — a drill — to test a backup network of communications systems that would come into play should the country suffer a massive loss of power and communications. Such a loss could come, theoretically, from either a particularly strong plasma and electromagnetic blast from the sun’s corona or as the result of an electromagnetic pulse attack.
In either case, worst-case scenarios say there’d be no power, no computers, no cell phones, no electronics, including those that make many automobiles run. So if we could get to food, it’d be spoiling by the time we made it there.
But on social media, posts have been circulating that claim the “training excercise” will involve the military actually shutting down the power grid, that the simulation will actually be real. The posts claim that the military isn’t telling the media because they don’t want to start a panic. And they claim that because there’ll be no power, people who rely on life support systems will die.
Now think about this for a minute.
If the military didn’t want to start a panic, not telling the media so the public could be warned and just suddenly knocking out power to the entire country would surely cause a worse panic than giving people a heads-up to prepare for a major power outage.
And what kind of drill would legitimately involve potentially killing people who depend on power for medical treatments?
And one last, quite pertinent question: if this is such a big secret that the military would be trying to keep, how would these social media people know about it? The ones I saw certainly didn’t appear to be military people to me.
Fact-checking tells a very different story.
When you actually take the time to research before you share a conspiracy theory, you quickly begin to learn that the conspiracy theories are just that.
This exercise isn’t new. It’s something the military has been doing now, about every quarter, for the last four years.
A military spokesperson I spoke to on the phone yesterday admitted that of all the training exercises they’ve done, this is the first time any of them have received this much attention.
I honestly wonder why people insist on posting these conspiracy theories. (The one I saw most often, showing two women talking about the potential crisis and dropping the s-word what seemed like about 400 times in just a few minutes, appears to have been deleted by the original poster.)
But assuming the claims are actually false, it would only make them look like morons when people wake up Saturday and the lights actually come on.
I guess if Saturday is the last day anything actually works, the joke will be on me.
But I’m not planning on searching out any underground bunkers between now and then.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.