Comedian, musician, host of Chris Crofton's Advice King Podcast and former Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it. Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email bestofbread[at]gmail[dot]com or editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.
Dear Advice King,
My brother-in-law Pete espouses some questionable conspiracy theories. I think he's highly irrational and misinformed, while he says I'm "terribly ignorant and naive" about reality. He's married to my sister, so I can't write him off. How do I make our interactions tolerable?
—Lynn in Milwaukee
Oh no! Brothers-in-law are menaces. My brother-in-law “Stinky” thinks he knows how to barbecue everything. He’s always saying that I’m “terribly ignorant and naive” about grill temperatures. “That's how you cook a bratwurst!” he yells, to nobody in particular. He drinks nine Bud Light Limes and stares off into the middle distance. Brothers-in-law love causing drama at barbecues — almost as much as they love the middle distance. In Stinky’s defense, his nickname causes him a lot of stress.
I’m just kidding, Lynn. My real brother-in-law is named Dave, and he’s quite personable. He drinks craft beer in sensible quantities. I’m sorry to hear about Pete.
Conspiracy theories are extremely popular these days. Remember that old slogan “As American as baseball, mom and apple pie”? Conspiracy theories are definitely more popular than baseball. And memes are more popular than moms. Sexting is WAY more popular than apple pie.
“As American as conspiracy theories, memes and sexting.” That actually sounds nice, if by nice you mean “pre-apocalyptic.”
The problem is that the truth isn’t nearly as much fun as a conspiracy theory. The truth just kinda sits there, being all ... true. The truth is frustrating for people with short attention spans, because it never stops being true. It goes on forever. You can’t change the channel on “true.” Fail compilations are WAY more exciting than truths.
Because of this, the truth doesn’t function very well on social media. The truth makes terrible clickbait. Best-case scenario, the truth gets two “clicks” — one click to find the truth out, and maybe one more if someone needs to be reminded. That is not nearly as many clicks as a conspiracy theory — or just a flat-out lie — gets. Can you imagine how much ad revenue this QAnon bullshit generates? Or Trump’s “rigged election” claims? I can guarantee you it’s WAY more ad revenue than stories about regular, real pizza places and regular, actual elections.
The truth is, simply, out of fashion — because it doesn’t generate enough conversation.
Facebook doesn’t want to remove disinformation from their platform, because disinformation foments posting — fact-checking posts, arguments about the fact-checking posts, hot takes on fact-checking, hot takes on disinformation, hot takes on fomenting, comment threads on all of the above, etc. More posting means more screen time. More screen time means more eyes on ads. More eyes on ads means more billions.
Which one are you gonna click on:
“There are 365 days in a year.”
“Kamala Harris wants to change the length of the year to 388 days.”
Until we as a society regain our senses, until we realize that our collective dishonesty will lead directly to our downfall — as a species — Lynn, I recommend you try to outdo your brother-in-law! When he says that the COVID vaccines have microchips in them, you say that bratwursts have microchips in them. When he talks about “Q,” ask him if he’s heard about “D.” When he says, “Who is D?” you say ...