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“鸟不是真的”:美国Z世代用荒诞戏仿对抗阴谋论

Birds Aren’t Real, or Are They? Inside a Gen Z Conspiracy Theory.
“鸟不是真的”:美国Z世代用荒诞戏仿对抗阴谋论

In Pittsburgh, Memphis and Los Angeles, massive billboards recently popped up declaring, “Birds Aren’t Real.”

最近,匹兹堡、孟菲斯和洛杉矶出现了巨大的广告牌,上面写着“鸟不是真的”(Birds Aren’t Real)。

On Instagram and TikTok, Birds Aren’t Real accounts have racked up hundreds of thousands of followers, and YouTube videos about it have gone viral.

在Instagram和TikTok上,“鸟不是真的”帐户吸引了数十万粉丝,YouTube上有关该帐户的视频也迅速走红。
 

23岁的“鸟不是真的”运动创始人彼得·麦克因多在阿肯色州的费耶特维尔。

Last month, Birds Aren’t Real adherents even protested outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to demand that the company change its bird logo.

上个月,“鸟不是真的”的追随者甚至在旧金山的Twitter总部外抗议,要求该公司更改其小鸟标志。

The events were all connected by a Gen Z-fueled conspiracy theory, which posits that birds don’t exist and are really drone replicas installed by the U.S. government to spy on Americans. Hundreds of thousands of young people have joined the movement, wearing Birds Aren’t Real T-shirts, swarming rallies and spreading the slogan.

这些事件都与一个由Z世代推动的阴谋论有关,该理论认为鸟类并不存在,实际上是美国政府为了监视美国人而布置的无人机复制品。成千上万的年轻人参加了这项运动,他们穿着“鸟不是真的”T恤,聚集在一起,传播这一口号。

It might smack of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by an elite cabal of child-trafficking Democrats. Except that the creator of Birds Aren’t Real and the movement’s followers are in on a joke: They know that birds are, in fact, real and that their theory is made up.

这可能有点像阴谋论“匿名者Q”(QAnon),它声称世界是由贩卖儿童的民主党精英集团控制的。只不过“鸟不是真的”运动的创始人和追随者是在开玩笑:他们知道鸟其实是真的,他们的理论是编造的。

What Birds Aren’t Real truly is, they say, is a parody social movement with a purpose. In a post-truth world dominated by online conspiracy theories, young people have coalesced around the effort to thumb their nose at, fight and poke fun at misinformation. It’s Gen Z’s attempt to upend the rabbit hole with absurdism.

他们说,“鸟不是真的”是一场有目的的戏仿性社会运动。在一个由网络阴谋论主导的后真相世界里,年轻人聚在一起,对虚假信息嗤之以鼻、对其予以还击和嘲笑。这是Z世代用荒诞来颠覆这个兔子洞的尝试。

“It’s a way to combat troubles in the world that you don’t really have other ways of combating,” said Claire Chronis, 22, a Birds Aren’t Real organizer in Pittsburgh. “My favorite way to describe the organization is fighting lunacy with lunacy.”

22岁的克莱尔·克罗尼斯是“鸟不是真的”活动在匹兹堡的组织者。“这可以用来对付世界上那些你让你真的束手无策的麻烦,”她说。“我最喜欢这样描述这个组织——用疯狂来对抗疯狂。”

At the center of the movement is Peter McIndoe, 23, a floppy-haired college dropout in Memphis who created Birds Aren’t Real on a whim in 2017. For years, he stayed in character as the conspiracy theory’s chief believer, commanding acolytes to rage against those who challenged his dogma. But now, Mr. McIndoe said in an interview, he is ready to reveal the parody lest people think birds really are drones.

这场运动的核心人物是孟菲斯的彼得·麦克因多,现年23岁,是个一头乱发的大学辍学生。他于2017年一时起意,创建了“鸟不是真的”。多年来,他一直扮演着阴谋论首席信徒的角色,指挥信徒们怒斥那些挑战他的教条的人。但现在,麦克因多在接受采访时说,他准备揭露这场戏仿,以免人们认为鸟类真的是无人机。

“Dealing in the world of misinformation for the past few years, we’ve been really conscious of the line we walk,” he said. “The idea is meant to be so preposterous, but we make sure nothing we’re saying is too realistic. That’s a consideration with coming out of character.”

“过去几年,在充斥着错误信息的世界里,我们一直很清楚自己的路线,”他说。“这个想法是故意弄成这么荒谬的,但我们还是要确保我们说的一切都不太现实。这样做是为了能够出戏。”

Most Birds Aren’t Real members, many of whom are part of an on-the-ground activism network called the Bird Brigade, grew up in a world overrun with misinformation. Some have relatives who have fallen victim to conspiracy theories. So for members of Gen Z, the movement has become a way to collectively grapple with those experiences. By cosplaying conspiracy theorists, they have found community and kinship, Mr. McIndoe said.

大多数“鸟不是真的”成员——其中许多人也参与了一个名为“鸟旅团”的实地行动主义网络——在一个充斥着错误信息的世界中长大。有些人的亲属已成为阴谋论的受害者。因此,对于Z世代的成员来说,这场运动成了一种集体应对这些经历的方式。麦克因多说,通过扮演阴谋论者,他们找到了社区和亲属关系。

“Birds Aren’t Real is not a shallow satire of conspiracies from the outside. It is from the deep inside,” he said. “A lot of people in our generation feel the lunacy in all this, and Birds Aren’t Real has been a way for people to process that.”

“‘鸟不是真的’并不是对外界阴谋的肤浅讽刺。它来自内心深处,”他说。“我们这一代的很多人都感受到了这一切的疯狂,而‘鸟不是真的’是人们处理这种情况的一种方式。”

Cameron Kasky, 21, an activist from Parkland, Fla., who helped organize the March for Our Lives student protest against gun violence in 2018 and is involved in Birds Aren’t Real, said the parody “makes you stop for a second and laugh. In a uniquely bleak time to come of age, it doesn’t hurt to have something to laugh about together.”

21岁的卡梅伦·卡斯基是佛罗里达州帕克兰市一名活动人士。2018年,她参与组织了反对枪支暴力的“为我们的生命而游行”学生抗议活动,如今也参与了“鸟不是真的”。她说,这种戏仿可以“让你停下来笑一笑。在一个特别凄凉的成年时期,有些东西可以让人一起笑,这并不是什么坏事。”

Mr. McIndoe, too, marinated in conspiracies. For his first 18 years, he grew up in a deeply conservative and religious community with seven siblings outside Cincinnati, then in rural Arkansas. He was home-schooled, taught that “evolution was a massive brainwashing plan by the Democrats and Obama was the Antichrist,” he said.

麦克因多也曾浸淫在阴谋论之中。在人生前18年里,他和七个兄弟姐妹在辛辛那提郊外一个非常保守的宗教社区长大,后来又住在阿肯色州的乡下。他没有上学,在家里接受教育,被教导“进化论是民主党人的大规模洗脑计划,奥巴马是反基督者”,他说。

By the time Mr. McIndoe left home for the University of Arkansas in 2016, he said, he realized he wasn’t the only young person forced to straddle multiple realities.

麦克因多说,2016年离开家去阿肯色大学时,他意识到自己不是唯一一个被迫跨越多重现实的年轻人。

Then in January 2017, Mr. McIndoe traveled to Memphis to visit friends. Donald J. Trump had just been sworn in as president, and there was a women’s march downtown. Pro-Trump counterprotesters were also there. When Mr. McIndoe saw them, he said, he ripped a poster off a wall, flipped it over and wrote three random words: “Birds Aren’t Real.”

2017年1月,麦克因多前往孟菲斯看望朋友。当时唐纳德·J·特朗普刚刚宣誓就任总统,市中心有一场女性大游行。反对抗议的特朗普支持者们也去了。麦克因多说,他看到那些人时,从墙上撕下一张海报,把它翻过来,顺手写了一行字:“鸟不是真的。”

“It was a spontaneous joke, but it was a reflection of the absurdity everyone was feeling,” he said.

“这是一个灵机一动的玩笑,但它反映了所有人都体会到的荒谬感,”他说。

Mr. McIndoe then walked around and improvised the Birds Aren’t Real conspiracy lore. He said he was part of a greater movement that believed that birds had been replaced with surveillance drones and that the cover up began in the 1970s. Unbeknown to him, he was filmed and the video posted on Facebook. It went viral, especially among teenagers in the South.

然后,麦克因多四处走动,即兴讲述了“鸟不是真的”这个阴谋论。他说,他参与了一个更大的运动,认为鸟类已经被监控无人机取代,而且这个掩盖行动从1970年代就开始了。他在不知情的情况下被人拍了下来,这段视频也被发布在Facebook上。它迅速走红,尤其是在南方的青少年中。

In Memphis, “Birds Aren’t Real” graffiti soon showed up. Photos of the phrase’s being scrawled on chalkboards and the walls of local high schools surfaced. People made “Birds Aren’t Real” stickers.

在孟菲斯,“鸟不是真的”涂鸦很快就出现了。这句话写在当地中学黑板上和墙上的照片出现在网上。人们制作了“鸟不是真的”贴纸。

Mr. McIndoe decided to lean into Birds Aren’t Real. “I started embodying the character and building out the world this character belonged to,” he said. He and Connor Gaydos, a friend, wrote a false history of the movement, concocted elaborate theories and produced fake documents and evidence to support his wild claims.

麦克因多决定把“鸟不是真的”进行下去。“我开始塑造这个(主张阴谋论的)角色,并构建这个角色所属的世界,”他说。他和朋友康纳·盖多斯编造了一段关于这场运动的虚假历史,炮制出详尽的理论,并制作了虚假的文件和证据来支持他的荒唐主张。

“It basically became an experiment in misinformation,” Mr. McIndoe said. “We were able to construct an entirely fictional world that was reported on as fact by local media and questioned by members of the public.”

“基本上已经成了一种不实信息的实验,”麦克因多说。“我们可以构建一个完全虚构的世界,被地方媒体当作事实来报道,接受公众的质疑。”

Mr. Gaydos added, “If anyone believes birds aren’t real, we’re the last of their concerns, because then there’s probably no conspiracy they don’t believe.”

盖多斯则说,“如果有人相信鸟不是真的,那么他们肯定也不会把我们当回事,因为可能没有什么阴谋论那是他们不信的。”

In 2018, Mr. McIndoe dropped out of college and moved to Memphis. To build Birds Aren’t Real further, he created a flyer that shot to the top of Reddit. He hired an actor to portray a former C.I.A. agent who confessed to working on bird drone surveillance; the video has more than 20 million views on TikTok. He also hired actors to represent adult bird truthers in videos that spread all over Instagram.

2018年,麦克因多从大学辍学,搬到了孟菲斯。为了把“鸟不是真的”推进下去,他做了一份传单,结果在Reddit上成了热帖。他雇了一名演员扮演一个前中情局特工,自称是从事鸟无人机监控工作的;这段视频在TikTok上被观看超过2000万次。他还雇了演员出演寻求关于鸟的真相的成年人,那些视频在Instagram上得到广泛传播。

To adults with concerns about Mr. McIndoe’s tactics, researchers said any harms were most likely minimal.

针对一些成年人对麦克因多的手段心存担忧,研究人员说即使造成了伤害应该也是微乎其微的。

“You have to weigh the potential negative effects with any of this stuff, but in this case it is so extremely small,” said Joshua Citarella, an independent researcher who studies internet culture and online radicalization in youth. “Allowing people to engage in collaborative world building is therapeutic because it lets them disarm conspiracism and engage in a safe way.”

“这种东西你一定要去评估可能的负面效果,但具体在这个事情上,危害应该是非常小的,”研究互联网文化和青年人的网络激化的独立研究员乔舒亚·奇塔莱拉说。“让人参与到合作性世界构建中来,是有益的,因为这让他们可以拆穿阴谋论,以一种安全的方式来沟通。”

Mr. McIndoe said he kept the concerns top of mind. “Everything we’ve done with Birds Aren’t Real is made to make sure it doesn’t tip into where it could have a negative end result on the world,” he said. “It’s a safe space for people to come together and process the conspiracy takeover of America. It’s a way to laugh at the madness rather than be overcome by it.”

麦克因多说这些担忧都是他非常注意的。“我们在‘鸟不是真的’中所做的一切,都会确保不要给世界带来负面影响,”他说。“这是个安全空间,让人们可以团结起来,理解美国被阴谋论淹没是怎么回事。这样一来我们可以去笑这些疯狂,而不是被它打倒。”

Birds Aren’t Real members have also become a political force. Many often join up with counterprotesters and actual conspiracy theorists to de-escalate tensions and delegitimize the people they are marching alongside with irreverent chants.

“鸟不是真的”的成员已经成了一股政治力量。许多人会跟反抗议者和真正的阴谋论者一起,缓解对峙气氛,在游行队伍里喊着不靠谱的口号来让抗议显得不那么正经。

In September, shortly after a restrictive new abortion law went into effect in Texas, Birds Aren’t Real members showed up at a protest held by anti-abortion activists at the University of Cincinnati. Supporters of the new law “had signs with very graphic imagery and were very aggressive in condemning people,” Mr. McIndoe said. “It led to arguments.”

9月,得州一部严苛的新堕胎法生效后不久,“鸟不是真的”出现在反堕胎活动人士在辛辛那提大学举办的一场抗议活动上。支持新法的人“手上的标语有非常触目惊心的描绘,对别人发起非常凶狠的责难,”麦克因多说。“结果导致了争执。”

But the Bird Brigade began chanting, “Birds aren’t real.” Their shouts soon overpowered the anti-abortion activists, who left.

但是“鸟旅团”的人开始喊,“鸟不是真的。”他们的喊声很快盖过了反堕胎活动人士,后者于是就离开了。

Mr. McIndoe now has big plans for 2022. Breaking character is necessary to help Birds Aren’t Real leap to the next level and forswear actual conspiracy theorists, he said. He added that he hoped to collaborate with major content creators and independent media like Channel 5 News, which is aimed at helping people make sense of America’s current state and the internet.

麦克因多准备在2022年大展拳脚。他说,“鸟不是真的”要想更进一步,推翻自身的设定并与真的阴谋论者划清界限是有必要的。他还表示打算和主要的内容创作者和5频道新闻等独立媒体合作,旨在帮助人们理解美国的当下状况以及互联网。

“I have a lot of excitement for what the future of this could be as an actual force for good,” he said. “Yes, we have been intentionally spreading misinformation for the past four years, but it’s with a purpose. It’s about holding up a mirror to America in the internet age.”

“对于这个计划将来能做哪些有益的事,我是充满期待的,”他说。“我们的确在过去四年里一直在有意散布不实信息。这是要在互联网时代给美国提供一面镜子。”
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