Daily Inspiration: The Volatile Future – “If you see a conspiracy behind every tree maybe you need to get out of the forest!”

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“If you see a conspiracy behind every tree maybe you need to get out of the forest!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

All of us have lost someone to the maelstrom of the madness, the confusion of the crazy, the innards of the insanity. We’ve seen otherwise rational people fall prey to delusions, subscribe to conspiracies, and fuel their paranoia through the warm path of the social media misinformation swamp.

I’ve long been watching all of this with the unease common to most rational, logical, and sane people. I dare not wade into the debate, knowing that all too quickly, those who have been sucked down into the conspiracy wormhole will rise up in righteous madness. I know I’ve lost a few friends along the way, and I always ponder the issue of how otherwise intelligent people can fall into a world of the absolutely irrational. I don’t bother trying to debate with them; it seems that they have devoted much time to empower themselves with information from within the conspiracy swap, eager to do nothing more with their lives than to fight within a debate. I have better things to do with my time. I just feel sad for them.

As a futurist, I’ve long had to pay attention to the issue though. After all, while it’s easy to predict the future, it’s not easy to predict the implications of madness-driven volatility. I have written about the implications of this in my post The Dark Underside of a Usually Optimistic Future – specifically, point 2. I truly believe that at some point in the future, the medical and psychological community will have identified that there is, indeed, some unique new form of illness that did not previously exist.

Acceleration of mental illness: we are seeing a new form of collaborative mental illness driven by the connectivity of the Internet, and years from now it will be diagnosed as such. This is not any type of routine mental illness – this is full-on whack-a-doodle loopy-doo full-on-gone type of crazy. Like, beyond batshit. You know them when you see them; you feel for their families. This has obviously become a massive part of the political agenda – people subscribe to the craziest of conspiracy theories. Your crazy uncle is now everywhere all at once – you are surrounded by too many crazy uncles. Crazy feeds on crazy, and so the new iterative insanity loop drives more insanity. It won’t end well.

What I do wonder about as a futurist is this – what are the implications of all this going forward, not only from a geopolitical perspective but also from a business perspective? Business organizations try to make decisions based on predictable patterns, logical assumptions, and rational reasons. Even as they do this, they try to prepare for and think about the ‘black swan‘ events – those massive unforeseen events – to the extent they can. It doesn’t always work – something like a global pandemic comes along and throws all the assumptions about volatility and uncertainty out the window.

There are real-world implications. Utility companies have had to deal with folks who think that wind turbines cause all kinds of havoc. Chicken feed companies have had to battle a fast-emerging story implanted in social media that chickens are no longer laying eggs due to some nefarious plot. Food companies have had to battle all kinds of crazy stories as to how they are engineering food to control the minds of the populace. Communications companies have been dealing with the insanity of the 5G conspiracy for quite some time. And I won’t even touch the medical and healthcare implications of the madness, since I nailed the outcome of that trend back in 2017 in my post on the emerging healthcare reality crisis. Read it – I was dead on with my prediction of what would happen through the pandemic.

There are serious implications to the madness. How bad is it? Here’s a study to ponder:

There are conspiracy theories online about nearly half of large companies in the Netherlands, BNR reports after searching the brand names of the 25 AEX-listed companies on social media. The broadcaster found conspiracy theories about 12 companies, mostly on Telegram, which has virtually no measures against disinformation.

The nature of the conspiracy theories varies wildly. One says that Unilever puts “corpse sludge” in food, though it also claims that McDonald’s is part of Unilever. ING allegedly “disappears” savers’ money and facilitates ATM bombings to hasten the transition to digital currency. Another theory states that Albert Heijn organizes “controlled food shortages” by deliberately destroying vegetables. DSM and Akzo both allegedly spread “chemtrails.”

According to the broadcaster, someone suggested that Prime Minister Mark Rutte “needs” the Ukraine war to “keep MH17 under wraps.” Another says Shell is keeping the war going to keep energy prices high. There’s also a theory that Shell has secret shale gas contracts for the site of the MH17 disaster.

A recurring theme is the World Economic Forum (WEF), an annual meeting of business executives and politicians. One conspiracy theorist noted that WEF-affiliated companies are doing well despite the looming economic recession. “Unilever, Shell, Heineken, and Heinz make billions in profits. All WEF companies. Haven’t we figured it out yet?” Another theory states that ASML cooperates with the WEF’s plan to chip people. And that Philips’ dental care subscription model is part of WEF’s plan to end private ownership.

Heineken allegedly has satanic references in its logo. KPN makes it impossible to send information about Joe Biden’s son via their internet connections, according to another theory. AEGON allegedly knows the cause behind the excess mortality and uses that knowledge to reinsure life insurance policies. And Signify’s “smart lamposts” spy on the population.

Conspiracy theories exist about nearly half of large Dutch companies
21 November 2022, NL Times

What does it lead to? Wild, unpredictable results:

Despite their lack of substantiated evidence and often unfollowable logic, conspiracy theories can still have significant consequences for the people and businesses they touch. The arson attacks on 5G masts in 2020 are an extreme example of this.

Last month protesters showed up at Eneco’s head office in Rotterdam to burn their energy bills and shout slogans about “The Great Reset,” the title of a policy proposal by WEF chairman Klaus Schwab. And camera crews showed up at the online supermarket Picnic after a fire at a delivery point prompted a conspiracy theory that it hid a cultured meat factory funded by Bill Gates.

Conspiracy theories exist about nearly half of large Dutch companies
21 November 2022, NL Times

What to do about it? That’s a bit of a problem since any action can often make it worse.

Responding to these theories can often exacerbate the problem, Ronald Kroes, an independent communications manager and interim spokesperson, said to BNR. But there are things companies can do to guard against conspiracy theorists.

For example, have a game plan ready for if you get targeted, Kroes said. “Companies practice crisis scenarios all the time: a fire, a cyberattack, a visit from a regulator. Add these kinds of scenarios to it. You don’t know how you’ll be involved in a conspiracy theory. But if you have thought about it and discussed how to deal with it with the management, you are already a lot further along.”

Conspiracy theories exist about nearly half of large Dutch companies
21 November 2022, NL Times

The reality today is that every organization must adapt to the madness of the crowds; strategies need to be refined to manage the complexity of the crazy; and leadership must be on guard to work through the insanity. All of it provides for an acceleration of the new era of volatility and is a part of our world in which volatility is the new normal.


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