Thoughts on birds, a word of advice

Joey Harris, Executive Sports Editor

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a big problem: birds aren’t real. That chicken you ate for lunch? Fake. The parrot who repeats what you say? Fake. And don’t get me started on the ducks.

Fake, fake, fake. They’re all fake and run by the government. Don’t believe me? Well there’s a reason: you’ve been brainwashed. Yes, brainwashed. By the government, by the media, by your own mother and father.

Last year, I stumbled across an Instagram account claiming all birds are secretly drones run by the government. The account and accompanying website have everything from a history of how this conspiracy started to “activists” rejecting “pro-bird propaganda.” The group also sells clothing and stickers (I bought a sticker). 

If you couldn’t tell, the account is satire, mocking our culture which relishes in conspiracy theories. I’ve always had an interest in conspiracies­ — a number of them have turned out to be true after all. During Prohibition, regulatory agencies encouraged making alcohol undrinkable by adding toxic chemicals. Tobacco companies knew cigarettes were dangerous long before regulation as well. There was also the Watergate scandal in which a president bugged the phones of his political opponents. Many of these were at least partially uncovered by hard-hitting journalism.

Since joining Torch, I’ve gained an appreciation for investigative journalism. The act of finding all the facts and putting them to paper without bias is an incredible thing reporters do. I’ve also learned to be skeptical of claims made by anyone and everyone, always trying to dig deeper for myself. If I hear something that doesn’t sound right, I want to see what The New York Times or the Chicago Tribune have to say about it. 

Credible news organizations do exist and come from all sides of the political spectrum. Time and time again, their reporting has proven accurate. Like everything you see, you should approach them with a certain level of skepticism, but have faith that they will not mislead you purposefully, and if they do make a mistake, they will apologize and correct their error. They provide a base of understanding about the world and serve as a check on what everyone, from conspiracy theorists, to politicians, to even what your teachers might say and do.

Knowing the facts of the world around you is vital to being an active citizen. Nevertheless, many Americans believe in some form of a conspiracy. Some may be true, while my conspiracy obviously isn’t — it’s pretty clear birds are real. Yours could be, but in order to know the truth, you need to dig deep and find the facts. This is the job of a reporter, but it can also be yours when you choose to follow credible news sources. 

There is not much wrong with considering a conspiracy, especially the more lighthearted ones. But there is something wrong with blindly believing them. There is something wrong with only believing what you want without any evidence to back it up. So as I leave this school and write my last articles, my message to Glenbrook North is to believe the newspapers. Maybe even Torch?