With QAnon conspiracies and radical disinformation abounding, it's easy to forget that the internet began as a technology to help democratize information and empower individuals.
Putting those evil echo chambers on the shelf for just a moment, it can be illuminating to take stock of what global, digital connection has created.
Crowdsourcing allows multiple perspectives and experts to gather in an instant and collaborate. Similarly, well-meaning folks can pool money to help good causes overnight.
People of all ages can express themselves with videos and blogs, honing their musical, poetic, and visual voices.
And, of course, there is so much knowledge. Encyclopedias and tutorials are everywhere you look. It's actually amazing that so many people took the time to teach the viewers they'll never meet, or even see.
But alas, those tutorials have saved more people in a pinch than we could ever count.
Many people find themselves against the ropes with a product or tool so specific that seems like it takes a pilot's license to work with.
Luckily, the internet is a numbers game. And with so many people out there making videos, there's bound to be at least one person who took the time to explain that tool, that model, from that year, and all for free.
Boiler Back Online
"Some dude explaining how to fix my obscure brand of hot water boiler."
"The manual exists nowhere online, nowhere sells it anywhere, but there are gods among men out there who make YouTube tutorials all the same."
Saving Cash, Saving Clothes
"I was able to take apart my dryer to replace the belt with a YouTube video of the exact brand" -- _Goose_
"I just did the same thing a month ago. It was tough but $30 in parts and two hours of labor saved me well over $100." -- chrissoindie
A Long History of Time and Money Saved
"That's a hard question to answer for me. It's going to be a mix of videos on various car and appliance repairs."
"A quick peek at Google/YouTube for how-tos have saved me several thousand dollars over the years by showing me how to fix a problem that I'd otherwise have had to use an auto shop or appliance center to fix."
"I try to always throw them a $5 or $10 tip as thanks when I can find donation or Patreon info as thanks, but not all of them have ways to donate.
"Giving a few hundred dollars in thank-you tips over the years is far better than thousands of dollars it would have otherwise cost."
One Screen to Another
"Lived in a rental house where my lease said that we were responsible for the window screens, including replacing them if needed. A bunch were broken or falling out of the frames."
"The move-out paperwork said every broken screen would cost $60."
"Found a YouTube tutorial with links to cheap supplies and really well-done directions. Saved hundreds of dollars and it was super easy."
For others, it's all about the hair.
Few things are more important than a person's look. Style never takes a back seat. So you can rest assured that plenty of people have made videos to express their own choices and teach a little in the process.
There When He Needed It
"Way way back in the day... how to style men's hair... as a trans man it means to much to open a video and have a guy talk to you like a man and say things like 'you got this man' or 'now you're looking sharp man' and stupid things like saying bro and handsome."
"Sometimes I'd open one just to feel validated. 10/10 highly recommend for the dysphoric."
"Cutting your own hair tutorials. Lifesaver through lockdown" -- JistHaudOanAMinute
"Lol, my husband has not cut his hair since before lockdown. His hair is now longer than mine." -- donttouchmycupcake
"Should have watched that before shaving my head and i might have realized beforehand that 6mm is really short, lol" -- xMoonbreaker
Many people owe their understanding of basic life skills to Youtube. Sure our parents teach us some of the big ones, but there are so many things to tackle throughout a lifetime that we could never rely on one or two people to cover them all.
Thankfully, complete strangers help take on the chaotic world.
Whichever the Animals, You'll Need It, Gents
"How to tie a tie" -- Ayush189
"I had seen a couple. It wasn't until watching the show Dexter that it finally clicked for me. Something about a rabbit jumping over a log." -- payokat
"I had to watch one of those videos when I was late for school. Phew!" -- Trex1873
Getting More Miles on Your Pants
"How to hand sew a zigzag stitch (which is what lets stitching stretch with a fabric so they dont just break). It took me way to long because all the tutorials I found were for how to hit the zigzag stitch button on a sewing machine. Smh"
"How to put on duvet covers by folding it like a burrito... been using it for years now" -- rcclee
"How to put a king size duvet back into the cover without a second person. Not much but my god it removed a source of fury from my life" -- Mischief_Makers
Ya Never Know
"Artificial insemination of Bulldog"
"Don't judge me. It was 3am in the morning. Learnt a lot that night."
Keep Those Wheels Movin'
"How to check and fill a tire. Not that I was never taught that, but since all knowledge escapes me in panic mode it got me out of a pinch." -- kannakantplay
"Any bike-related stuff on Park Tool. I'm a beginner cyclist and their vids are logical and straightforward." -- WowIsLoveWowIsLife
Joining Contemporary Life
"genuinely taking a screenshot."
"before being inside 24/7/365 (almost yay), I had the tech skills of a dead Amish animal and since I've made a Reddit account, I've been making memes by having a blank template and putting words on it using PowerPoint and screenshotting it..."
"...then posting it to Reddit on various meme Subreddits. being a no-life has let me to amass a high volume of a useless internet points in a relatively short amount of time and it's great"
"How to make oat milk - basic af but saves me a lot of money as oat milk is expensive in Australia y'all." -- donttouchmycupcake
"Recently watched a video where a women soaks her oats in amalayse first so it's not like slimy and one other person suggested freezing oats first. If I get it perfect I'll definitely start making my own again" -- laz0rtears
Up Your Dinner Party Game
"How to use a chefs knife correctly and how to even find the best knife that fits your personal style and preferences."
"Changed me and my cooking skills forever and saved me tons of time. Also made my cooking much more safe."
"The problem with most of these skills is that people don't even know what their missing"
Youtube: the Eternally Patient Teacher
"For me it was how to drive a manual."
"I hadn't learned and I was in my 30s. I tried having people teach me in person. No luck and usually just frustration on all ends (telling someone to shift when it feels right doesn't always work)."
"Watched a few videos and, more or less, got in and took off."
Resorting to Your Own Devices
"Khan Academy tutorials."
"We had an absolute shi**y teacher in our microeconomics course... the kind that stopped keeping touch with academics long ago and just teaches for the sake of it. The classes turned more pathetic online."
"She would literally just read out the slides, no explanations, nothing, couldn't give a satisfactory answers to the class's questions either. The micro tutorials of khan academy saved my grade and sanity. God bless that channel."
So next time you ever wonder how to do anything, have some confidence that at least one other person out there encountered exactly that difficulty.
The question becomes obvious: did they make a video about that?
If they didn't, maybe it's your turn.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Conspiracy theories are beliefs that there are covert powers that be changing the course of history for their own benefits. It's how we see the rise of QAnon conspiracies and people storming the capital.
Why do people fall for them? Well some research has looked into the reasons for that.
The Association for Psychological Science published a paper that reviewed some of the research:
"This research suggests that people may be drawn to conspiracy theories when—compared with nonconspiracy explanations—they promise to satisfy important social psychological motives that can be characterized as epistemic (e.g., the desire for understanding, accuracy, and subjective certainty), existential (e.g., the desire for control and security), and social (e.g., the desire to maintain a positive image of the self or group)."
Whatever the motivations may be, we wanted to know which convoluted stories became apart of peoples consciousness enough for them to believe it.
Redditor Lopsided_Confusion57 asked:
"What's the wildest conspiracy theory you fully believe?"
We can't say any of these are true but sometimes it's fun to speculate.
The time traveling cyclist.
"The Australian cyclist Mick Rogers is a time traveler."
"In the 2002 Tour Down Under, Rogers was in a great position in the breakaway and looking to move into the overall race lead but a collision with a motorcycle left his bike out of commission. With the team service car and mechanics way down the road, it looked like Rogers' chances were gone. Then a cycling fan, who just happened to be at that precise point in the road, offered Rogers his bicycle to continue on. The bike also just happened to be the *exact* model of Colnago that Rogers had been riding. It was the correct size, right down to things like the stem and crank lengths. It even had the same pedal system that Rogers was already using, so he could just clip in and be away. He finished that stage and took the race lead, which he held on to all the way to the end for his only career win in his 'home' tour."
"My theory is that in the original timeline, Rogers didn't win the 2002 Tour Down Under. He quit cycling in anger and devoted his life to theoretical physics and solving the problem of time travel just so he could arrange it to leave himself a spare bike where and when he needed it."
"I'm on board for whatever book or screenplay you write."
"Wait, so if Rogers motivation to find ways for time travelling was losing 2002 race, and if he won, then Rogers never found time travelling and our time line is forever devoid of genius like Rogers who would have found time travelling and attended Hawkins party."
"Yep, exactly. Our timeline is stuck with boring old Mick Rogers, 2002 TDU winner and 3x World Time Trial Champion while some other, much cooler, party timeline gets Mick Rogers, the second coming of Einstein. He probably even cures Covid for them."
The best money making stunt.
"Information is leaked from a studio about an upcoming project that p*sses off the fan base. The studio will then change things to keep the fans happy. The conspiracy is the original leak was just a lie to drum up free publicity for the project."
"This made me think of the Sonic movie. No way in hell were they going to make Sonic look that bad. Put out a fake trailer with him lookin all scary, everyone is talking about it. Wala. Take a bit to say you're fixing his look, put out a new trailer. You just drummed up tons of publicity since people are now following the story."
"I have mixed thoughts to that one."
"I mean 'No way in hell were they going to make him look like that.' Buddy have you seen the cash-grab BS that Hollywood has pulled off before? Hell, when was there a movie based off a game that wasn't exactly as bad as that Sonic looked?"
"I will admit that they may have done that as a publicity stunt, but I also admit that they could have thought it looked fine."
"Have you seen … CATS?"
"100% of the population believes that Putin has had people killed for political reasons but only a very small percentage of Americans believe that American politicians would ever do so."
"I mean, there's a reason the joke/saying is, 'The highest award a journalist can receive is being assassinated by the CIA.' There's probably been a handful who may've found out one too many things on the elites, and then had an accident before they could publish their findings."
"Ohhhh boy then south american journalists in the 60s-80s have been awarded way too much."
"MLK was literally murdered by the government."
"Lots of Black Panthers were too."
'"As part of the larger COINTELPRO operation, the FBI was determined to prevent any improvement in the effectiveness of the BPP leadership. The FBI orchestrated an armed raid with the Chicago police and State Attorney on Hampton's Chicago apartment.'"
"Quote from the Wikipedia article on Fred Hampton."
Conspiracies for the conspiracies to cover up the conspiracies.
"The CIA creates conspiracy theories to provide cover for the real conspiracies."
"It's actually kind of scary how smug anti-conspiracy discourse is used to derail actual conversations. A moment that chipped my faith in humanity just a little was when I was arguing with some people about Guatemala in 1954 and people denied my version of events happened 'because it's a conspiracy.'"
"Like no the parties involved admitted to it."
"If you don't know what I'm talking about and are from the USA you should have a google. But, basically the USA destroyed a democracy because it made a corporation sad."
"What's worse is when people will talk about how corrupt insert what politicians they don't like are, but then when you mention something that is actually confirmed to have happened, they pull the conspiracy theory card and act as if the idea people in power don't want to secure further power for themselves."
"We have been conditioned to think like that from since we started school though (I guess that's my submission for this ask post)."
"I think I remember reading about some CIA agents AMA. Someone asked him the question, 'What's the point of area 51?' The answer was, 'To keep your attention away from area 50 and 52.'"
"Obviously not an exact quote, but the idea of it has always stuck with me."
Extinct animals not actually being extinct for preservation.
"I think it is entirely plausible that the Thylacine still exists in the depths of the Australian mainland and the government knows it."
"It wouldn't be that crazy for misguided scientists to have moved or released a few in the late 1800s. Once the animal went extinct, they certainly couldn't reveal the existence of the mainland population lest poachers and local farmers destroy it. They also may have realized how significant the liability was for releasing large predators into farmland."
"Folks have found hair and scat samples that may be from the animal, but the university lab results always come back and say they are nonsense. That's probably the truth, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the government was strong-arming them into reporting BS results. TBH if I was a conservation scientist it wouldn't take much convincing for me to fake a negative test."
Robert 'Curt' Borton Jr.
"I believe in a LOT of really boring conspiracies. Stuff like. 'This person was about to expose corporate/government corruption, and then died suspiciously.'"
"But if you want to go for a more intense one, Robert Borton, who I just learnt about, takes the cake. tl;dr guy disappears in Vietnam and really strange sh*T happens to his family."
"This guy, Robert 'Curt' Borton Jr. turns 19 in 1965, he goes to fight in Vietnam. He lands in 1966 and vanishes 19 days into his deployment alongside 3 other soldiers."
"In 1976, two guys approach his dad and claimed to work for the Department of Defense. They asked him to sign a letter that would change his sons status from 'Missing in action' to 'Killed in action' and he refused. Arguing the military would not confront people in public to sign documents. However, in the following weeks he was approached again by these two guys in public places and eventually signed it out of fear. He later received money for doing so."
"His sister then claims that every time they've seen Curt's official files, the entries keep changing, and his sister claims her phone was being wiretapped. A cousin believes that everyone was being watched, claiming that he was followed to work several times and that two men would follow him from his home to his company and then back. After this went on for a month, he decided to confront them, but they denied following him. After that, for about a month, he was not followed."
"The family is convinced Curt was part of a secret government operation that brought him from Vietnam into the United States. Diane believes that he has tried to contact her and other family members on multiple occasions. She claims that she has talked to a man who is a "secret returnee" and that they are allowed to come back to the United States, as long as they do not contact their families. She believes that this was done because the U.S. government had already claimed that all of the living POWs had been brought home; since they were still left behind, they could not become known to the public."
We may never fully know if any of these are true. Given the track record and history of most governments in the world, maybe some of these aren't so far fetched.
Only you can decide what you believe or not.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
I hate ghosts, even if it's Casper. My life is already stressful enough. I don't need to creeped out by spirits from the beyond. Shouldn't they be resting and basking in the glow of the great beyond instead of menacing the rest of us?
The paranormal seems to be consistently in unrest, which sounds like death isn't any more fun or tranquil than life. So much for something to look forward to.
Some ghosts just like to scare it up. It's not always like "Ghosthunters" the show.
Redditor u/Murky-Increase4705 wanted to hear about all the times we've faced some hauntings that left us shook, by asking:
Reddit, what are your creepy encounters with something that you are convinced was paranormal?
I can't definitively say I've come face to face with the spirits. But I have had some unsettling feelings in the dark. Shadows are just shadows sometimes, but who can be sure.
I hear it...Nbc Wings GIF by HULUGiphy
"I was helping my dad clean my grandma's house after she passed and I went in and was trying to find a song in my phone and before I could I heard a cough plain as day come from down the hallway where her room was. She died of lung and throat cancer it was pretty crazy."
"When I was 5 I remember getting home from my grandpa's birthday party. For context my mom was pregnant with my brother at the time, so my parents had already bought his crib. I woke up in the middle of the night to find a women in a white dress and long black hair standing over my brother's crib. I managed to wake up my dad so he could take me to the bathroom. When I got back it was still there. It was only until morning when it disappeared. Every now and then I see a glance of what I assume is that thing running past the backyard."
"My best friend and his wife had moved to a new apartment. I came over to visit a few times, and each time I'd see the motion of a cat in my peripheral vision. Not the image of a cat, but a sense of how a cat moves. Anyway, one day I finally cracked some joke about the ghost cat in the place and his wife was instantly saying "See! See! I told you we had a ghost cat!"
"I worked graveyard shift in a dementia ward for 4 years and it was anything but quiet. I was working with a nurse one night when we both heard a resident say "excuse me." We looked around and no-one was there. I checked on the resident in question and she was fast asleep in her own room. Many of us also experienced someone whistling in the ward late at night and one nurse even managed to catch a video of it happening. It was unnerving to say the least."
"I once saw someone short walk by me in my house. They walked into the laundry room which only has one way in. I walked into it behind them and they where gone. I thought it was my little brother but I went to his room and he was asleep. I still have no clue what that was."
Now was everyone here positive they were sober? Just asking. Those are certainly spooky moments. I'd like some video footage please. Continue...
Reflectionsghost library GIFGiphy
"I was up at 3am when I was maybe 7 or 8. I looked out the window and saw a woman in a white dress run across my yard. I could see through her. She was transparent like the reflections on the window."
"So, my work place is haunted. I was having a really crap day, and as a cleaner, it's normal that me and my co worker will be the only ones left at night. So I was standing on the second floor, leaning on the banister for the stair case, when I heard this male voice say in my ear "you alright?" Clear as day. I turned around so fast and nobody was there and it scared the hell out of me."
"I remember as a young kid I usually use to sit in my bed and watch tv with my room door open while the adjacent guest bedroom next to mine would always have the door shut. I always remember seeing that door fully open and close by itself multiple times a day very slowly and gently. Never really bothered me much now that I think about it… but there were other creepier experiences I had in the same house that made me feel uncomfortable like I was being watched."
"I went to the Betsy Ross House as a really little kid in the early 90s. Normal house but I was confused why the tour guide never talked about the woman on the chair crying at the edge of the bed in Betsy Ross's bedroom. So I asked about it. No one else saw the woman at the edge of the bed. I figured it was just a wax museum since there was a wax statue of a man in uniform rolling bullets in the basement."
"Years later, I was looking at haunted Philadelphia tours to go on with a friend and the Betsy Ross House was on it. I was like "woah! I was there!" and looked into it some more. Turns out there is a woman at the end of the bed crying and a uniformed man in the basement that people have reported seeing. There is no way that 8 year old me would have known about either of these things."
hello kitty...hello kitty lol GIF by Animation Domination High-DefGiphy
"I had this hello kitty Balloon In my bed room, it had a string and weight on it. So it was late, I had the lights on just Sitting on my bed. The Balloon turns, faces my door, slowly floats into my hallway and turns and floats into my sister's room. To this day I am scared of balloons."
They are among us and they like Hello Kitty. I'm probably rattling the paranormal cages and they'll come for me next, but I'm ready. I feel like this thread has prepared me.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
The past year brought about much anxiety and it's been a challenge to find the light in what has felt like perpetual darkness.
"What gives you genuine happiness?"
Food brings people together, and that combination brings much happiness for these Redditors.
"Plenty of my favorite food eaten together with fam."
"Harvesting fruits/veggies from plants which I grew myself and then gifting the harvest to others. I love to grow blueberries and hope I will have lots next year."
Compliments To The Chef
"Seeing people enjoy food that I cooked, especially seeing my fiancee smile while she eats my from-scratch chocolate chip cookies."
The Little Things
"It's difficult to tell the difference between genuine happiness and enough distraction. Food, like video games or playing the piano, makes me joyful while I'm eating it. I believe that the things that make me truly happy are the ones that happen infrequently, if at all, and are beyond of my control, such as being complimented or receiving physical contact."
Being alone with our thoughts can be comforting.
Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
"Being outside with no people around. Live in a city and I get up super early and just walk around before everyone else is out. Best part of my day."
In Between Consciousness
"I think it may be the only time I am ever genuinely happy when I am in that state of going to sleep where I think, but at the same time I am neither asleep nor awake. It feels like I am entirely detached from the physical world; free of fear, and pain."
"Don't try heroin."
"I've noticed that some things can make you so happy that they make you happy before (anticipation) and after (reminiscing) you've done them."
Being with loved ones, both humans and pets, can be the very definition of happiness.
"Weekend mornings sitting on the couch curled up with my husband and cat, both of us reading a book. It feels like quality time even though we aren't talking. Just a lot of peace."
"Your comment made me imagine a cat sitting on a couch, reading a book, wearing reading glasses and that made me really happy."
Hide And Seek
"Watching my cat get stuck somewhere stupid, then yelling for help. The best place so far was in a cabinet over the stove."
Our Inner Comedian
"When I manage to make my friends day by making them laugh. I honestly get so happy when they are happy."
What Brings Joy To Others
"I really love to hear about other people's hobbies/passions/interests. It never fails to make me smile."
"Equally, my hobbies/passions/interests make me happy."
I'm a kid at heart.
So it's not surprising that going to a Disney park as an adult brings out the inner kid in me.
Having grown up in Southern California, I get nostalgic about all my trips to Disneyland with my family and friends.
Eventually, I got a job there in entertainment, where I've made lifelong friends and grew as a performer.
My glee quadruples when I bring friends who've never been to a Disney park before and I see the excitement on their faces.
And what brings me pure joy is hearing from these first-time visitors that, after a long day of running around for 12+ hours, they tell me they had the "best day ever."
Walt, you did a good thing.
A lot of talk going on about women's bodies, isn't there?
Not necessarily with women front and center as part of the conversation, unfortunately.
One of the main talking points against these bans and laws being placed on women's bodies is the idea that it would never happen to a man. "If men could get pregnant, there'd be free abortions tomorrow," is a slogan thrown around quite a bit online. Is that true?
Let's ask them.
Men of Reddit, would you take a male contraceptive pill if it was readily available? Why/Why not?
Genuinely, you might find yourself surprised at how many men are willing and ready to do their part in controlling what goes on during contraception.
Click, Click...No Boom.
"Yes. Makes more sense to unload the gun than shoot at a bulletproof vest."
"Without a doubt. I hate the idea of a vasectomy...nervous about the procedure. But I'd 100% take a male contraceptive pill"
Both Parties Are Making A Choice
"Yes. I world prefer both genders have birth control and that both are actively using it to give the best possible chance of no accidental pregnancies."
What Have Women Been Going Through?
"Honestly I would because I hate the fact how it f-cks with my girlfriend's body. And I rather deal with it than her"
"Absolutely ruins my day when I think about what a hormonal disaster the implant has been for her. It doesn't even bother her that much, but why should she have to deal with any of it at all? Saving up for a vasectomy so it can all just be done with."
Some men are not for a male contraceptive.
Hear them out.
"Think I'd probably still rely on rubbers. Shooting a load without one and relying on it being blanks... I'd be too paranoid about it"
"Rubbers will still help against things OTHER than pregnancy too - so, wearing them is still a good idea"
Wait, What Day Of The Week Is It?
"Oh yes 100%. The only reason I'd be hesitant is i'm very likely to forget"
"Yeah my ex couldn't even remember to buy condoms so not sure I would trust him with a pill. I also wouldn't trust myself with it either, hence the condoms :D"
What's It Doing To Me?
"If it had the same side-effect as the female one and affected my mood or my libido? F-ck no."
"Not all methods have that effect on women. There are literally hundreds of contraception, it's finding the best one for your body."
"I imagine that if men were taking contraception there would be triple the research into making sure you guys were A-OK"
It's All In The Conversation
"Personally, I wouldn't take it. The pill messes with your hormones and that's why I don't expect a woman to take it and also, that's why I don't want to take it."
"If she does, because she wants to - ok. If she doesn't, because she doesn't want to - ok, too."
"If I happen to hook up with someone, I'll wear a condom, because pregnancy isn't the only thing to prevent."
"If I am in a relationship and my gf tells me that she doesn't want to take the pill (anymore), I don't have any right to argue with her and that's why I'll wear a condom."
"I don't care if it "doesn't feel so good" - for me, the best thing about sex is the shared intimacy."
However, really, it's the man in all of us that wouldn't mind shouldering some responsibility in the child-baring years of our lives. Cheers to that.
So Long As It's A Unity Effort
"Yes, I have this theory that every man's phone alarm would go off at the same time at the bar, and we would raise our bc pill in the air to cheers all taking it at the same time"
Why Make Them Do Something You're Not Willing To Do?
"Abso-f-cking-lutely YES a million times yes!!!"
"Straight away, it would be a d*ck move if I expected my girlfriend to take stuff if I'm not willing to"
...Is That Pun Or...?
"Yes! My wife has been carrying the burden of birth control for 11 years now. Lots of pain, discomfort and other effects over the years, its time men can share the load."
We won't know what the future brings. Science at this point makes it feel like anything is possible, so in the next century? Who can say?
Be ready, men. It's our turn, next.