This is another of my posts to help victims of fake doomsdays. For the last three weeks we've had constant PM's and comments on Doomsday Debunked as a result of a viral hoax that pranked probably hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Many of them are young children still at school who came across it on social media, on twitter, Facebook, reddit or YouTube, or as a result of the sensationalist press. There was a story about it in the Daily Express taken up by others, including a story in Fox News, publicizing these tweets about an alien invasion on 18th April.
Perhaps you are one of these people who saw these tweets, videos, posts or news stories and panicked? Perhaps you even contemplated suicide? You'll be celebrating your survival now, of course. But what might surprise you is that you continue to get panic attacks long after it is all over. It doesn't make logical sense, you know it didn't happen, but you've got into a habit of fear and nightmares and those will continue for some time. If this happens, the main thing to realize is that it is normal, happens to nearly everyone who went through what you did. And the good news is that it wears off eventually. And that being scared doesn't mean there is anything to be afraid of, and there are ways you can help yourself and there's professional help available, and we are also there to help you if you need someone to talk to on social media.
It's a daft story about an all singing / dancing "black box" flight recorder from MH 370, with inexhaustible battery sending a voice mail read out by a robotic voice (actually Mac Siri) in NATO phonetic alphabet laboriously spelling out each word in the message using Alpha Bravo etc, that hints that aliens hijacked the aircraft - and later text messages allegedly also from the flight recorder that let slip the date of this supposed invasion - supposedly they also let slip their plan to invade on 18th April. Finally, a potent addition for many, it was claimed that just before he died Stephen Hawking had some kind of prophetic revelation that this would happen on 18th April of this year (actually he died peacefully in his sleep and was a mathematical physicist, not a prophet). A YouTube troll also posted enigmatic videos with messages in hex and pigpen cipher that when decoded stated that he was a government agent and that the government knew all about this supposed alien invasion and weren't telling anyone about it (because of course, everyone knows from movies, governments, if they discover that the world is about to be invaded by aliens, won't tell anyone about it, to avoid panic???!! - being ironic there)
None of this makes any sense. A flight recorder never broadcasts any data. It just goes ping ping for 30 days in ultrasound which you need an underwater microphone to hear, and all it does is record whatever is said in the cabin + engine and airplane status and location. You have to recover it and cut it open to get at the data. But for many, including very young children who read all this on their mobile devices as "news" or on social media, this was a potent combination and they panicked, and told all their friends who panicked with them in a form of mass hysteria. The very daftness of the story made them even more scared as they tried to puzzle it out, with trolls adding layer after layer of extra complexities to it.
Also governments do not suppress information about predicted disasters. This is a "trope" that people have got used to from movies, where it is a convenient way to add dramatic tension, but in reality, did the US government suppress weather forecasters that predicted the path of hurricane Irma, to stop people panicking as it approached their homes? Of course not. You may also find it helps to read my Why we don’t need to fear an alien invasion.
To give some idea of the scale of the panic, and how viral it was on social media, a Facebook post about this story got over 20,000 shares in a little over two days. I think it is fair to say that most of those shares were by people seriously scared and panicking that the world was about to be invaded by aliens. It wasn't the sort of post you'd share as a joke. There were also over 17,000 comments on it, most by people who simply commented tagging one or more of their friends to alert them to the post. Many probably tagged friends on the shares too. Assuming 5 people on average saw each of those shares and panicked, that would make 100,000 panic attacks from that one post.
That is just one facebook post for a few days. It's been going on for three weeks now, with facebook posts and tweets on twitter by it many times a day by scared people, YouTube videos about it, a Vblogger interview, and a dedicated subreddit devoted to trying to "solve" puzzles set by trolls all based around this one hoax. There must be many hundreds of thousands of people that had at least a few panic attacks as a result of this story.
It's been by far our worst scare on Doomsday Debunked since David Meade's Sept 23. Many of our members were unable to sleep, had panic attacks and in one case posted saying h was contemplating suicide. This needs to be multiplied up a thousand fold or more as only a tiny fraction of a percent would have found our group or our members posts or tweets.
Even when people find us and see through it and realize it is a hoax, they still half wonder if it is true, and so it's a relief for them when nothing happens.The tweeted invasion date was 18th April and as always happens with these false prophecies, as the date rolled over to 18th April in their time zone, we had many posts from people around the world saying they are okay and they were not invaded by aliens wherever they live.
The members of our group from New Zealand are always first to post that they are okay and have survived the end of the world, and the ones on the US west coast are last. (Alaska would be later still but I don't think we have any members of the group from Alaska yet)..I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that's how people think with these stories. It's always like this as the false prophets don't bother setting a time zone or time.
I joked about it in a post to the group:
And of course aliens in their UFOs use our calendar with dates from the birth of Jesus, as adjusted by Pope Gregory, use Earth length days and Earth length years and use the exact same month names as us and schedule their invasions to the dot in local time. And sit in their UFOs above each time zone waiting for the date to roll over to the 18th before swooping down to invade :). (Joking)
So, now, as expected, our members are posting about how they continue to be scared once it is all over. It means nightmares for sure, even if you don't remember your dreams and night terrors, frequent panic attacks during the day and you may find you are scared to go to sleep.
It takes a while to wear away if you have been through something as traumatic for you as this. It doesn't mean there is anything to be scared of, just means you've got into a habit of fear. And health professionals can definitely help a lot to get over it.
It's a bit like post traumatic stress disorder for soldiers that have experienced stressful war situations.
It’s hard to grasp the numbers involved here. This is a story about a Vietnam Vet who planted around 100,000 trees, to honour the dead in the Vietnam war. The number of people who had horrible panic attacks in these last three weeks due to this viral scare are probably more than the trees in this forest.
Only a tiny fraction of them can have found our Doomsday Debunked group which still has less than 1000 members. I’d say we only got to see a fraction of a percent of those affected.
Anyway if you were affected - well - do expect to continue to have after effects for some time. When you’ve been through something like that - it takes several weeks for the effects to wear off.
And health professionals really do help. And also eating enough, making sure you get plenty of sleep, doing things that relax you, and keeping away from any of the online hoaxes and false prophecies. You need a break from all that.
If you do all that then you can heal fairly quickly, in most cases, though if you’ve been hit real bad it may take more than weeks, months sometimes, occasionally a year.
WHAT ARE TROLLS?
This may help you understand what happened and hwy it happened. You were trolled. In this case it started as a harmless prank but one that became a magnet for trolls that came to Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, saying all sorts of bizarre things, not because they sincerely believed them, just to confuse people and scare them more, fanning the flames. It probably was intended as a harmless prank of a pal originally, but the trolls added all these embellishments such as the date, alleged prophecy by Stephen Hawking etc and it grew into a forest fire as a result.
- What are Trolls? 43 6f 75 6e 74 79 42 6c 75 66 66 20 69 73 20 61 20 74 72 6f 6c 6c by Robert Walker on Debunking Doomsday
These trolls themselves are people to be sorry for, not angry about them. They do not understand what they are doing. For them the whole thing is like a text adventure, that they engage in home after a boring day at work. A bit like a “shoot them up” game with real people but they don’t really recognize they are real, for them it’s just text scrolling on their screen as that’s all they see of it. They most of them would never say the same things in real life they type into their computer and many of them come to hugely regret what they did a few years later.
If you have been badly trolled you may be extremely upset - like those parents whose child memorial sites were trolled. You may be suicidal. You may even be contemplating suicide.
If this happens you probably need professional help! Your friends can do their bit but they need help from professionals as well.
Those who help can include health professionals if necessary. They can really help a lot with things like obsessive thoughts.
There are medications that help, SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) that help with your brain chemistry - deficiencies in Serotonin which gives a sense of well being that happen in people with obsessive thoughts when they get in a rut.
They can have side effects for some people, but are generally mild medications and seems that they are well worth a try if a doctor prescribes them.
Also talking therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - a number of unexpected techniques that work to get you out of ruts in thinking, sort of doing the opposite of what comes naturally to you when you get obsessed. This is very effective, many people find relief within days to weeks.
Also reimagining techniques can help if you get nightmares. Adults get nightmares like children, and you may not realize you have been having them.
We go through several deep sleep to dream cycles every night and you only remember the last dream in the last cycle typically. And even that memory starts to fade within seconds and if you don’t write it down or make an effort to remember it you may forget your dream completely within a few minutes of waking up.
Dealing with your nightmares can help a lot too.
The health professionals can also help with depression, anxiety etc. But it is important to explain your situation clearly or they may treat you for the wrong thing. Just tell them everything and see what they recommend / diagnose.
Do see a health professional, starting with your doctor probably. And be sure to explain everything. They have seen it all before and will not judge you or see it as silly and they will not get scared by it either. Just treat it as a health issue and diagnose the best way to treat it, if they are any good as a doctor. And you can follow their advice or not, but might as well get it and see what they suggest
I seem to have spent much of the last three weeks writing debunks of this absurd story on twitter.
You can read about it here, with links to my other debunks at the end
- TROLL ALERT: Thousands Panic Over Fake Voice Mail - Warning Alien Invasion On April 18 - Alleged From MH370 Black Box‽
- How a message wrapped in a puzzle can make you gullible to trolls - examples of Stopswitchproxy, County Bluff and Strayedaway
I've been doing tweets too, for those who like them short. It also helps because people who follow this story have become primed to believe any tweet with the strayedaway hashtag. So seeing my tweets can get them thinking and help them see through the nonsense.
Twitter feed: DoomsdayDebunked (@DoomsdayDebunks) | Twitter
Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by these fake doomsdays.
IF YOU NEED HELP
If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia
If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.
Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help. There are several others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can post debunks to the group. See our debunkers list/html>