Panel 3 - Finding Belonging in a Climate of Loneliness, Conspiracy, and Mistrust in Government
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the very real threat that disinformation, entrenched individualism, and low trust in institutions pose in tackling a deadly global crisis. While the arrival of multiple Covid-19 vaccines earlier this year seemed to suggest a hopeful resolution to the crisis, low rates of vaccination—driven in large part by both political leaders' strategic public skepticism and targeted disinformation online—revealed a much deeper problem around lack of faith in government and the enormous reach of conspiracy and fake news more broadly. In this panel, we will explore how we can connect with those who have been swept up by misinformation and conspiracy, from Covid-19 denialism and vaccine skepticism to QAnon and other more extreme conspiracy theories. Can we risk our own assurity that we are "right" and make room for their fears, disconnection, and anxiety about the world? Our panelists will discuss the factors that increase attraction to conspiracy and fake news (like loneliness, othering, and insecurity of all kinds) as well as how an ethic of bridging might help us build more healthy forms of belonging for all.