Human beings are a paranoid lot. They are likely to assume the worst, generally because other human beings have shown them their worst. This leads to distrust, which comes with a predisposition towards questioning instructions and advice, no matter how logical it is. Getting mortals to question health orders isn’t particularly difficult; you just need to set the scene. To be certain, in the majority of instances, they trust their health professionals to keep them alive, but once they begin to act as though they hold some form of authority, it is easier to sow distrust.
“No, the doctors, the government… they don’t want to keep you alive,” Pestilence whispered into some ears. “They want to control you.”
The less that people trust those in authority, the more they will look elsewhere for answers. It doesn’t matter where these answers are coming from, it only matters that they are coming from somebody without the authority to make these mortals bend to their will. One of life’s many truisms is that once you foster the belief that authority figures are conspiring against someone, that someone will want to fight back. Another of these truisms is that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and people turn to their friends for guidance. In short, if someone believes there is a conspiracy, they are easier to control. And if you fabricate a story that fits within their narrative, they will follow your story like sheep, all the while bleating about the sheeple following the rules without a single trace of irony.
Although, through the millennia of his existence, he had never taken time to formally study communications or media (such endeavours are considered to be below those punishments of God’s station), Pestilence understood this. Such luminaries as Rupert Murdoch, Alex Jones, Joe Rogan and their ilk have made their names from sewing distrust through misinformation, rallying all those “free-thinking” sheep to fight against humanity and line their sponsors’ hip pockets. The social media giants, in their quest to bring free speech to the world (at the low cost of your privacy), created algorithm-driven echo chambers, fertile soil to plant the seeds of distrust.
As much as the powers that be frown upon completing Communications Degrees, so to do they frown upon immortal spectres appearing on television, radio and podcasts. But as Satan and his demonic ilk have been doing for the last couple of millennia, Pestilence was free to whisper in the ears of conspiracy nuts and people who had risen to lead their countries to satiate their base narcissism.
Pestilence’s messaging started innocuously enough. “COVID-19 is nothing more than the common cold,” he would whisper. “At worst, it’s just like the flu. People die from influenza all the time, you know? This is nothing new.” Those who listened shrugged their shoulders while passing the message onto others who would listen and shrug their shoulders, while also spreading the message further.
As doubts to the dangers of Pestilence’s virus spread across the globe like an uncontrolled pandemic, with outrage in his voice, he would tell others, “It was created in a lab! COVID-19 isn’t simply a virus, it’s a bioweapon with the power to wipe out humanity.”
As the fires of outrage roared, spreading across the world, people asked, “Who would create such a weapon?” They demanded the answer to the universal question, “Who do we blame?”
The people needed an enemy. “China created it,” he told many of them. “No, Canada created it,” he whispered to others. “But China stole it from them.”
As the western world gathered its pitchforks, Pestilence realised the east, too, must be given an enemy. “It came from the USA,” he told them. “The CIA created it and framed China because they fear its rise.”
To ensure global discord distracted people from the simple fact they should protect themselves, Pestilence spread the word that this virus was created with one purpose, but not for anything as simple as war. “It’s a population control scheme,” he told some people. For others, this was the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for future fears. “The pharmaceutical companies simply want to create and sell a vaccine.” For anybody acquainted with big pharma, this was probably the most believable story he told.
Some mortals are more inclined to believe humanity’s destruction will come not from within, but thanks to a cosmic accident. A meteor killed the dinosaurs, so it stands to reason a meteor will kill humanity as well. “A fragment landed in Wuhan,” he said, “And brought the virus to Earth…” People panicked—if it’s already landed, we can’t send Bruce Willis to space.
As people stared at their phone screens, enjoying the speeds brought to them by the 5G network, they read stories decrying 5G technology as the cause of this disease. Technology, the cause of so many ills, had found a new way of destroying countless lives.
As humanity yelled over the top of one with their answers about the cause, it became harder for those trying to provide answers about how they could protect themselves to be heard. Still, Pestilence knew those voices would inevitably get louder. With relish, he was ready to answer those questions, too.