By Rebecca Sinderbrand If The Issue Fits

Until recently, I never thought of checking my phone for bugs. I’ve always gotten my history from overpriced textbooks, not from Oliver Stone. And I’ve generally chalked up Roswellian alien sightings to long desert nights and those madcap New exicans.

Thanks to the Internet, my eyes have been opened (this is one of those educational benefits politicians don’t talk about all that much when they discuss the information superhighway).

Amid the detritus of Leonardo DiCaprio fan pages and Dungeons & Dragons discussion groups, I found another worldview, floating just below the radar of the mainstream media. For example, there are people who believe that water flouridization is a communist plot. I, myself, am not quite sure how much I follow the reasoning of people who find something sinister in increased dental hygiene. But to each his own. I don’t understand the appeal of the Backstreet Boys, either, but millions of fans can’t be wrong.

I was gamely seeking the Truth – capital T – online, prepared at any second to have the scales torn from my eyes. After viewing the “David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist” web page (www.esquilax.com/baywatch), I felt paranoia setting in – they could be right! I remember Knight Rider; he had a talking car, for the love of God! That’s just not natural!

By the time I reached the “Bert is EVIL!!” web site (www.fractalcow.com/bert), I almost found myself agreeing with its anti-Bert creators. (Face it, that uni-brow always did look faintly menacing – and we haven’t seen Prairie Dawn around Sesame Street for awhile, now have we?)

Again, no one has ever fully explained the popularity of the Backstreet Boys – what further proof of a malevolent conspiracy does one need? The whole recent boy band craze has been like a giant cancer on the American consciousness.

Then again, I may have just been overwhelmed by the confidence with which these opinions were presented. These sites usually relate their worldviews with all the subtlety of a drugged-up Anna Nicole Smith at a Beverly Hills bar mitzvah. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be so quick to discount these theories. Stranger things have happened – for instance, how do you explain Rick Schroder as a cop on NYPD Blue?

Frankly, Georgetown students are not exactly disinterested observers when it comes to scrutinizing “the establishment.” Be honest with yourself: if you attend Georgetown, you are now, or will become, a tool of “The Man.” Not even a jolly, generous Man like Santa Claus. No, you’ll be minions of some other, more sinister Man, like the evil `toon in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

However, we worry about the effects of the European banana import regime. We follow the market. We haven’t been to a NASCAR event in ages. Some of us don’t even know who Jeff Gordon is. I’m not pointing any fingers, but you know who you are. So, we miss out on the subtler undercurrents of American culture.

Let me fill you in. Whether you’re aware of it or not, there’s a whole subculture out there right now – people who are stocking up on hydroponic lettuce and the like, just counting the minutes until 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2000, when 747s will crash in their front yard, traffic lights will stop working, and they’ll be able to roam the battle-scarred, wreckage-strewn streets of our major cities and laugh in the face of those fools who actually mocked them for purchasing six dozen barrels of powdered beef Stroganoff – who’s laughing now, you miserable bastard!

Of course, there’s another possible scenario. Should Y2K not signal the end of the world as we know it, or even the end of “Springer” (which, I’ll be honest, could be a sign of the apocalypse just staring us in the face), these people will have to face the fact that a large portion of their lives have been spent in essentially meaningless endeavors. They have essentially been the victims of some giant cosmic joke. Not to mention, they’ll have to find another use for the 8,000 rounds of armor-piercing bullets in their basement. Either prospect isn’t pretty.

The approaching year 2000 is highlighting the darker side of our imagination in a way that, say, the year 1983 did not. But then again, back then, the world was a simpler, happier place. “Men at Work” topped the charts. Brat Packer Ally Sheedy and future Ferris atthew Broderick were rescuing the world in “War Games.” And lovable moppet Ricky Schroder was stealing our hearts on “Silver Spoons.”

The heartening truth, for those of us unwilling or unable to surrender our logic or our sanity, is that conspiracy theories generally don’t stand the test of time. For example, I’m still waiting for that whole Zionist world domination thing to kick in. If it already has, and I’ve been left out, someone’s gonna pay.

But irrefutable facts haven’t stopped supposedly sane people from buying into that same sort of mindset. Throw out your rules of logic. To “X-philes” and their ilk, the lack of evidence to support a conspiracy can actually be used as proof of said conspiracy. Of course there’s no proof. Someone – fill in the blank: communists, government spies, Rick Schroder’s agent – doesn’t want you to find it.

To be honest, I’ve always been a firm believer in general human incompetence, which would seem to preclude the success of any major conspiracy. My time in Washington has only served to refine and confirm this general impression. If the most powerful man in the free world can’t keep a little piece on the side under wraps, no secret is safe.

But just in case: trust no one, and check under your bed at night before you go to sleep.

If The Issue Fits .appears Tuesdays in The Hoya.

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