I laid in bed, my phone a few inches from my face, and squinted to read the words at the beginning of the 30-minute video.
“In this video, I will prove to you there has been a lot of deception surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting,” I read. “This is a simple, logical video. No aliens, holograms, rituals or anything like that, just facts.”
I got chills. Over the next 30 minutes, I let my jaw drop and gasped in horror as the video showed me evidence of a second shooter, a picture of victim Emily Parker with our president after the shooting, proof the memorial pages were made before the shooting and several other scenes that made me tilt my head in confusion.
When the video ended with a montage of headlines about the government’s goal to have more gun control, my heart sank.
I made my roommate watch it, I told my friends to watch it and I watched it again.
I questioned everything. Why did they do this? Why am I majoring in journalism and political science? Do I want to be a part of a government that would do this? Is it true? What if it is?
But that’s the beautiful thing. I questioned. Before the video, I accepted everything on face: the pictures, the videos, the articles and the speeches. But now I was thinking.
I did some of my own research and went through the entire video on a mission to debunk what I could. The “second shooter” was a scared parent, the picture was with her cousin wearing the same dress and the memorial pages were edited pages that already existed.
I am not writing this column to prove the theory right or wrong because honestly, I do not have an answer to that. I am writing this column to encourage you to have the epiphany that I experienced as I paced in my living room and ranted to my roommates breathlessly.
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I declared, head in my hands. “I need to change my major. I don’t want to be a part of something where this is okay.”
“Hannah,” my roommate said, rolling her eyes. “If it is true, you get to change it.”
Conspiracy theories are not created to hurt people. They are created to challenge people.
“I hope this video has made you think,” the Sandy Hook conspiracy video states in the closing credits. “Investigate for yourself and be careful who you trust.”
That is exactly what happened. I thought. As I watched the video, I thought back to the coverage I watched, and wondered how I had not noticed these things. I thought some of it did not sound right. I thought that most of the theory could not be true. It made me go so far as to research and disprove things.
In America, we have a bad habit of believing everything we hear. I even believed the conspiracy video when I heard it until it bothered me so much I had to do something about it.
We need to question things more. We need to think more. As far-fetched as some conspiracy theories are, at least they shock us out of the gullible information receiving routine we have fallen into.
Hannah Schilling is a sophomore journalism major from Shreveport who serves as managing editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to hms...@latech.edu.