What Happened to the Truth Movement? w/ Benny Wills – Out of This World #40 | Jamie Hanshaw

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Questioning Narratives

What Happened to the ? w/
#40 – 25 Jan 2024 |

Benny and Jamie talk about the history of the alternative media movement and how will we communicate in the future.

The “” refers to a group of people who question the official narrative of the 9/11 events and believe that the US government was involved in some way. The movement has been around since shortly after the events and has grown in scope and scale over the years, with many sceptical about Covid-19 and vaccines among many other concerning and controversial topics. The rise of new movements online, such as QAnon, has kept research in circulation and brought it to a far larger audience. Despite government agencies and various groups refuting the existence of any hidden conspiracies, activist groups in the US and elsewhere say the facts are often hidden.

Was there ever really a “movement” though?

What happened to the ? – 13 Jan 2024 | Benny Wills

From 2004 – 2016, I felt like I was a part of something special. I was participating in an “.” The world was changing. Consciousness was shifting. The hidden hand was being exposed, and all secrets were being revealed!

Right?

Or maybe it was wishful thinking.

9/11 happened. And for the next decade and a half, people all over the world began to question the events of that day. Then, major events in general. It was the beginning of an uprising. A revolution!

Right…?

Something else emerged during that time. Social media.

Social media has its upsides and downsides. Mostly upsides. But the downsides have serious ramifications. Specifically on communication.

Social media brings us together and tears us apart.

2001: A Truth Odyssey 

By 2001, almost everyone was online and connected to the internet. But it was still in its infancy.

The iPhone didn't exist. There was no YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Even MySpace wasn't around yet.

We had access to the internet, but we had no idea what we were in store for.

As the internet expanded, so did our ability to share information.

Alternative perspectives, counter-narratives, and “conspiracy theories” became more accessible. For the first time (possibly) in history, “official stories” were being challenged in real time. With evidence to support claims. 

I was dubious about 9/11 as it was happening. Not because of the internet. Not because I was a conspiracy theorist. But because I hated George Bush. As a born and raised Democrat, I didn't trust him. I was staunchly anti-war (and still am), and I knew America's response to the attacks was going to be insane. 

A few years later, someone shared a documentary with me called Loose Change. A film deconstructing the 9/11 narrative. My mind was blown, and it was off to the races. 

Down, Down, Down The Rabbit Hole.

YouTube hit the scene in 2005. I used it strictly for conspiracy-related research. 

Conspiracy content blew up online. A had begun. The masses were on the verge of waking up, well, en masse.

Right?!?! 

Fast forward to 2024. I have good news and bad news. 

The good news is that more people are questioning things than ever. Distrust in anything mainstream is at an all time high. 

The bad news:

Societal division is worse than it's ever been. In my lifetime anyway. It's hard to even call it division because division implies splitting into two halves. 

This is a direct result of thumb-typed communication. (Generation Text.)

These days, most people prefer texting, emailing, or commenting over direct engagement. We yearn for human connection, but we've patterned ourselves to avoid it as much as possible. (I'm speaking generally, of course.) 

Confronting someone is uncomfortable. But confrontation is a necessary part of human interaction. It's a key component in solving conflict or avoiding it altogether. But since it can be terrifying, people today have the easy-out of typing instead of speaking.

Typed communication lacks empathy. It's indirect. Impersonal. It's both a barrier and a shield. 

So people say things to each other online that they would never say out loud. They rip each other apart over the slightest differences of opinion. Many (especially YouTube commenters) hide behind avatars and pseudonyms to say whatever they want with no accountability.

Basically, everyone has free rein to be an asshole with zero repercussions.

Worst of all, no one is listening to each other anymore.

We haven't just been divided; we've been fractalized into smithereens.

Awake Vs.  

The “awake” crowd is as insufferable as the “” one. Change my mind.

Mean-spirited mudslinging and public shaming are the online norm.

Checking the timeline on Facebook, for instance, is a disheartening experience.

It's a daily mélange of proselytizing, bickering, and judging others. The sentiment is “my way or the highway.”

“I'm right, and you're wrong. And not only are you wrong, you're also a stupid idiot.” 

Many on the alternative or “conspiracy” side of things have fallen into the same trap as the “sheep” they condemn. 

Arrogant allegiance to ideas, beliefs, and opinions. 

Critical Thinking

At the height of the in the 2010s, there was an emphasis on critical thinking. The Trivium was making a comeback. 

Grammar, logic, and rhetoric

In that order. 

More often than not, online communication is rhetoric without grammar and logic to back it up. 

Sweeping generalizations abound. 

  • Accusations
  • Declarations
  • Proclamations
  • & Polarizing opinions disguised as facts

But opinions are not facts. (And you are not your opinions.)

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” – William James

Social media algorithms are designed to keep you in a feedback loop.

A lot of people use their (typed) voice online to “speak the truth.” But they're preaching to the choir in an echo chamber. 

There's camaraderie to be found in this. Which is good. But the likelihood of their rantings reaching those who (they feel) need to hear them is small. 

The aggression that comes through many posts is ugly and derogatory.  

Anger

Anger is a powerful emotion. But it's like fire. It can warm your house or burn it down. 

“Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.” – William Shakespeare

Many people lean on anger to convey their conviction about a topic. They use it to stress the importance of something. But more often than not, it's ineffective.

Anger is best utilized when it's the seed preceding something more interesting.  

In other words, anger alone is a weak emotion for personal expression. 

When anger sparks an idea, and that idea is built upon with clarity and care, the expression of that idea has the power to shift someone's perspective. 

Many of my poems and JoyCamp videos came from an angry place. But anger is nowhere to be found in the final product. 

Some think I'm too soft in my approach. Well, they're welcome to think whatever they want. I've learned through trial and error that bluntly and angrily stating “the truth” is a fool's errand. People don't want to hear it, no matter how right or passionate you are. 

Use anger like clay and sculpt it. 

I tried anger in my 20s, and it got me nowhere. If anything, it only made situations worse. Speaking loudly and angrily puts more distance between your conversation partner and the point you want them to understand.  

*Note: There are exceptions to every rule. For some, angry expression is effective, but it depends on the person and, more importantly, their authenticity. It tends to work better with a crowd that is already in agreement with the speaker.

I'm committed to the truth and helping others discover it for themselves. Over the course of 15 years, I developed a nuanced approach to communication that actually works. One that I've taught to hundreds of people in my Parrhesia program (now called Free Your Speech). 

If you didn't pull the trigger on Parrhesia when I was offering it live, you can still purchase the course itself. 

>>Free Your Speech: The Art of Communication

I've dropped the price to $149. It's an election year. It's probably worth your while.

Logic

It's agonizing to witness your friends, family, and society at large fall into what you perceive as traps. 

What's painfully obvious to you is beyond absurd or ridiculous to them. And no matter how much you try to convince them otherwise, they double down on their commitment to the trap. 

People are not logical. They're emotional and motivated by fear, comfort, and ego. 

“No one can possibly behave above his own level of understanding. Don't expect people to do any better than they are compelled to do at their present level. Your problem is assuming that they should and could behave better. Understand this and annoyance disappears.  

As you gradually awaken you will feel the urge to share your discovery with others. Because you will find others in various stages of receptivity, remember this: Never give more than others can understand and appreciate in the moment. This is cosmic law. To try and give what others cannot receive is like tossing a ball against a brick wall—it bounces back to strike you. Jesus explained this law by saying that we should not cast our pearls before swine; that is, before those whose comprehension of truth makes them indifferent or hostile about it.” – François Fénelon

This is the cornerstone of my communication philosophy and approach.

The Real

There is no . There never was. There is only your journey to discovering what the truth is.

Shift from collective to individual responsibility. Others will follow your lead.

You are the .

Pick your lane and choose your battles wisely.

Worry less about the world and other people's opinions.

Concern yourself with what you're capable of. Challenge your comfort zone. And focus your efforts on how you can help.

The most exciting rabbit hole is YOU.

Sources and links

What Happened To The Truth Movement

Source: What Happened to the Truth Movement? w/ Benny Wills – Out of This World #40

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