In this article:
- The “birds aren’t real” conspiracy theory has taken the internet by storm and it’s even more ridiculous than it sounds.
- The conspiracy traces its roots as far back as 1976 to a movement to protect birds from extinction.
- The cause of that extinction, the conspiracy theory claims, is that the government has been gradually replacing all birds with surveillance drones.
- Modern Bird Truthers say that the replacement program is now complete. No real birds are left. All of the ones you see are drones.
- Originally meant as satire, the birds aren’t real theory accidentally gained traction. Now, its originator is trying to put out the fire.
What if I told you that your pet cockatoo Scruffy wasn’t actually what you thought he was — that that cute little cockatoo was actually a government surveillance device live-streaming your deepest, darkest secrets straight to a CIA monitor? Would you say I was crazy? Would you say that’s impossible?
Well, there are a whole lot of Gen Zers out there that would say I’m 100% correct… sort of. Allow me to explain.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably caught wind of the “Birds Aren’t Real” conspiracy theory that’s been taking the internet by storm. At first glimpse, it may sound a little ridiculous. On closer inspection, however, it’s actually completely ridiculous.
But, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t garnered a massive following and made for some hilarious headlines. On October 11, 2021, Birds Aren’t Real protestors demonstrated outside of Twitter headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco, demanding that Twitter change its logo.
The flyer advertising the protest contained a very clear message: “THE BIRDS AREN’T REAL MOVEMENT WILL BE HOLDING A PROTEST DEMANDING TWITTER CHANGE THEIR DISGUSTING ‘BIRD’ LOGO. EVERY BIRD IS A GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE DRONE AND EVERY USE OF ‘BIRD’ IMAGERY IS INTENTIONAL PRO-BIRD SOCIAL PROGRAMMING.”
Aside from causing havoc in the streets of San Francisco, the Birds Aren’t Real movement has also amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, proving the overwhelming mass appeal of this conspiracy theory.
Billboards bearing the “Birds Aren’t Real” slogan have also popped up in cities like Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Los Angeles. Indeed, this movement is making major waves throughout cyberspace and even in the real world.
So, do all of these adherents to the movement truly believe that all birds are government spies? Or is this all just one big joke? Let’s start with the origins of this movement and try to get to the bottom of why exactly it’s become so widely popular.
The Mastermind Behind the Birds Aren’t Real Movement
The origins of the modern Birds Aren’t Real movement can be traced back to a moppy-headed kid from Memphis named Peter McIndoe who has been insisting through his social media accounts since 2017 that the government’s replacement of birds with surveillance devices is the biggest crime ever perpetrated on the American people… and on birds.
In fact, while the Birds Aren’t Real movement has just recently started making headlines, according to the website, the movement spans as far back as 1976.
Back in those days, conspiracy theorists claim, the government had not yet replaced all birds with drones, so the movement was primarily concerned with saving birds from extinction. Unfortunately, as they say, that effort failed.
Now, the primary concern of the movement is raising awareness about the privacy violations that the United States government is committing through their avian observers.
The Birds Aren’t Real website even includes a “banned advertisement” from 1987 featuring a nameless politician claiming that the United States government has been replacing birds with surveillance drones ever since the Eisenhower administration. The veracity of this advertisement and its claims are highly questionable.
Nonetheless, Peter McIndoe’s movement has garnered staggering numbers of acolytes, largely because McIndoe himself was willing to stay in character for many years and dedicate himself to spreading awareness and converting skeptics into “Bird Truthers.”
Despite commanding the army of Birds Aren’t Real believers for years, McIndoe has recently revealed a great deal about his true intentions in an interview.
Are Birds Real?
According to some of McIndoe’s answers in that interview, he never meant for anyone to seriously believe that all birds are government surveillance drones.
“Dealing in the world of misinformation for the past few years, we’ve been really conscious of the line we walk. 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.”
McIndoe always meant for this movement to be completely ludicrous and satirical. However, in a glaring example of how satire and parody can be misinterpreted (and then spread) as real news by unsuspecting audiences, some folks started to actually believe that birds aren’t real.
In an effort to stop the spread of misinformation, McIndoe decided to lift the curtain and set the record straight.
Understandably, it seems that he never thought people would be gullible enough to believe this absurd theory. But, time and time again, modern society has proven that its stupidity knows no bounds.
Of course, not all adherents to the Birds Aren’t Real movement truly believe that birds are actually flying CIA robots.
Many of them, like McIndoe, understand the satirical value of the Birds Aren’t Real movement. And, most likely, most of the backers of the movement are involved because, well, it’s hilarious.
But, while the Birds Aren’t Real movement isn’t meant to be serious, it does touch on a very real facet of life in the internet age and the experience of growing up as a Gen Zer.
Bird Truthers Fight Fake News
Is it any surprise that the creation of the Birds Aren’t Real movement coincided fairly closely with the advent of the Trump administration? Enter the age of misinformation and absurdity when the best we can hope for is pseudo-truth and objective reality has been replaced by the opinion of whoever shouts the loudest.
In many ways, the dilution of truth has caused many of us to grow so jaded that a serious movement chanting “Birds Aren’t Real” sounds about as plausible as anything else that we hear on the daily news.
If the Birds Aren’t Real movement’s massive popularity brought to mind thoughts of the frighteningly influential QAnon conspiracy theorists, I don’t blame you. It should. In fact, in my opinion, both of these sound equally realistic.
An elitist cabal of Democrats that retain control of the world by drinking the blood of the children? All birds have been replaced with government surveillance drones? Hell, the Birds Aren’t Real theory might actually be the more plausible of the two.
In our post-truth era, the Birds Aren’t Real movement is a social satire that’s meant to remind us of the power that misinformation and aggressive populist movements can have. In today’s world, it doesn’t really matter if there’s any kind of substantial evidence to support a theory.
As long as enough people are backing an idea or movement, there will always be more people to join in the groupthink and jump on the bandwagon.
Is there any verifiable evidence to support the claim that birds are government drones? Of course not.
However, the fact that this movement has gained hundreds of thousands of followers has made it, well, real to many people. As I mentioned before, people have begun to actually believe that birds aren’t real, despite the fact that Peter McInroe created the movement as a joke.
Those who back the Birds Aren’t Real movement and still understand that birds are, in fact, real are attempting to draw attention to the lunacy of some of the conspiracy theories that are circulating around the United States today.
The claims that they make are intentionally outlandish and unbelievable. Their discourse is over-the-top aggressive.
All of their tactics are meant to parody the QAnon and Reptilian conspiracies that have attracted startling numbers of true believers. In a way, the ludicrousy of their own movement is meant to highlight the ludicrousy of these other, much more dangerous movements.
If people want to stage a comedic protest outside of Twitter headquarters, it’s mostly harmless.
The phenomenon that the Birds Aren’t Real movement is trying to bring light to is far more dangerous: the fact that people will literally take up arms to support a cause that has no legitimate basis whatsoever just as long as there’s enough popular support for it.
Is the Democratic Party of the United States made up of child-trafficking Globalists secretly pulling the strings of the world? Of course not. But it’s the belief in this idea that led to a group of rioters storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021. That’s the power of disinformation and populist groups that the Birds Aren’t Real movement is trying to highlight.
As a final note, please go watch this video of Birds Aren’t Real leader Peter McIndoe throwing up his coffee on the WGN morning news. It’s absolutely hilarious.