Trend Alert | Birds Aren’t Real

Izzy Hall

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Conspiracy theories are typically associated more with Boomers than Gen Z, but there’s one in particular that the younger generation love to share on social media, and it’s even provoked them to attend in-person protests. The theory essentially states that birds aren’t real.

The difference between ‘birds aren’t real’ and other conspiracy theories is that the people sharing the ideology online don’t actually believe it’s true. It’s better described as a parody of conspiracy theory culture and the absurd ideas that certain groups are convinced by. The movement’s founder, 23-year-old Peter Mcindoe, first went viral for holding up a ‘birds aren’t real’ sign at a Women’s March counter-protest in Memphis. He chose that statement as it was the silliest thing he could think of, and soon found himself coming up with a story to back up the words: he claimed to believe that birds had been replaced with government surveillance drones back in the 1970s. After a video of Peter was shared online, ‘birds aren’t real’ became a local joke in Memphis, and gradually spread wider thanks to social media.

‘Birds aren’t real’ not only represents the quirky, subversive humour of Gen Z, but also their ability to use social media in creative ways to make a point. Similar to the 2020 story of K-pop fans booking out all the tickets to a Trump rally, ‘birds aren’t real’ makes a mockery of the right-wing political movement that is in opposition to Gen Z’s typically more progressive views. Many Gen Zers haven’t yet had chance to vote in an election, but they’re using the power of social media to make their voice heard.

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