For over two hundred years, the 901 has produced iconic food, music, and now, avian annihilation theories.
Within the past year, the national activism community has exploded with a new group: Birds Aren’t Real. This organization was founded to spread the “message” of a conspiracy that twelve billion avian creatures have been killed by the government and replaced with drones to keep surveillance on the American people.
According the official website of the group, Allen Welsh Dulles, the Director of the CIA from 1953-1961, schemed to eradicate all birds. Unbeknownst by the public, billions of government dollars were siphoned to fund this “forced extinction;” this money was then used to sponsor an aircraft that flew at extremely high altitudes and dropped bird poison through the sky. Within the next few years, over 70% of the American bird population was eliminated and replaced with “Robot Birds” with the capability to survey the American people and track criminals. After President Kennedy’s discovery of the covert project, he demanded a stop to this project; coincidentally, he was assassinated within a month. The CIA began to rig elections to nominate officials who supported the “Robot Bird” operation, and only anti-bird presidents have assumed office since.
The Birds Aren’t Real website also has first-person accounts of interactions with these drone birds and a collection of apparel to spread the message. The site asserts, “This bird nightmare makes the Illuminati and JFK conspiracies look like a toddler playing in the Burger King Play Place.”
This movement was actually hatched in Memphis by college student Peter McIndoe. In a 2017 Instagram video, he held a sign at the Women’s March that protested bird extinction and gained national publicity.
As of August 2019, the Birds Aren’t Real Instagram page boasts 133,000 followers, and organization chapters have been formed all over America. McIndoe has appeared on WREG News Channel 3 after a billboard was displayed on the Highland Strip that reads, “Birds Aren’t Real.” In this interview, when asked if his advocacy was “satire,” he responded with a serious look, saying, “Honestly, that’s kind of offensive.” McIndoe asserted that the movement hopes to “spread awareness” and “change legislation.”
The Birds Aren’t Real movement covers social media platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and Reddit. The organization is steadily gaining followers, and some St. Mary’s students can even be spotted sporting t-shirts and stickers to support the cause.
Hallie Anderson (11), who keeps a Birds Aren’t Real bumper sticker on her car, describes her following by saying, “I don’t really subscribe to the belief, but I follow it because I think that [McIndoe] deserves the respect for coming up with such a brilliant idea. The whole thing is really a marketing scheme, but it’s impressive to see someone that young come up with an idea like that. People follow it and buy his stuff like these $20 shirts for no other reason than that it’s funny.”
Olivia Longsworth (11) owns a Birds Aren’t Real t-shirt that reads, “Bird Watching Goes Both Ways.” She explains her position by clarifying, “I think Birds Aren’t Real isn’t a joke, but I think the heart of it is a satirical political campaign that’s mocking other campaigns by being absolutely ridiculous.”
The success of Birds Aren’t Real can be credited to multiple factors in today’s environment, including mistrust of government, meme culture and the allure of conspiracy theories. Social media has been instrumental in the emergence and diffusion of this cause, and both positive and negative press have dramatically increased the popularity of the organization.
This may be the theory to put Illuminati conspirators, flat-earth believers and “Bush Did 9/11” theorists to shame. The majority of the followers of the movement are teenagers and millenials who determine the success of Birds Aren’t Real by liking, commenting, following and sharing on social media. Any reaction, support or criticism, continues to keep the organization relevant and active in cyberspace.
Birds Aren’t Real and others like it reflect the power that literally lies at every device-owner’s fingertips with the push of a button. As technology advances, so does the power of those on the other side of the screen. The movement also challenges people living in a world flooded with “fake news” to question and form their own opinions about the media they encounter. Readers are able to support and encourage the content they want to see, whether it bears truth or not. They have the capability to form their own opinions and challenge presented information.
Memphians of the 1950’s recognized Elvis as the city’s crown jewel; however, 901 residents of the digital age are now able to boast the Birds Aren’t Real movement.
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