Flat-Earthers are getting ready to take over the world – or so they seem to think. This community – which, in case you never heard about it, holds that the Earth is flat rather than spherical, challenging the mainstream scientific consensus and asserting that governments are lying to us – has been gaining momentum around the globe (pun intended).
In life, we all look for somewhere we can belong. Some turn to religion, others turn to the workplace, and many others turn to conspiracy theories… Social media has made it easier for people with unusual beliefs to come together and talk, allowing such communities to flourish online and expand their own special bubble. Lebanon is no exception.
The Lebanese Flat-Earth community coalesced around the Flat-Earth Society – Lebanon Facebook page, that boasts some 600 active members and is run by what seems to be one person. Hoping to better understand the mindset, topics and activities of Lebanese Flat-Earthers, Communicate Levant tried to reach out to the group, with no response. That didn’t keep us from looking into what’s being said there, and more importantly, how it’s being said.
Interestingly, the “About Us” section says only one thing: “Ask us about our weekly meetings!” – which we would have loved to attend at least once!
What’s even more interesting is the general mood around the page. While, apparently, some posters are following the group for entertainment purposes – “I can’t tell if this is real or a parody; either way, please keep it up 😄✌️”, says one – others clearly are in for the fight: “Guys, just unlike the page… don’t waste ur time trying to convince brainless people that science is real,” says another.
And the fight does happen. The page’s manager clearly wants to keep the overall tone polite and the discussion open, systematically ending his replies with a weirdly out-of-place “salam and Namaste” and stoically affirming that “the flat earth society will endure any criticism and insults with a smile and determinism to spread truth and peace”.
However, the comments teem with hate speech: “You work for NASA?”, “You are against us,” “Here are unscientific and totally unproven theories that make no sense.” Beliefs were praised, disbeliefs were ridiculed or trolled to oblivion with multiple theories and no scientific sources, references, or any demonstrable facts.
At a time when social media platforms, including Facebook most recently, try to weed out dangerous hate speech, it is quite obvious that the problem is not only with page owners but also with a vast number of online users. Just like any cult or group that tries to force their beliefs onto others, Flat Earth Society – Lebanon is no different.