Since its modern conception and ignition well over a decade ago, social media has revolutionized the way people receive and share information. Platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter are among the most popular tools used today in the expansive digital realm. However, like all modern technologies, social media has been both a blessing and curse with the rise of account bots spreading false information, pages and closed groups enlarging ideological bubbles, and mental health effects caused by usage or addiction. Something I’ve noticed popping up on my social media of late is the media website Gaia, Inc. If you haven’t come across it yet, there are some things you should know about it.
Founded thirty years ago in 1988 and permanently digitized by 2015, Gaia, Inc. is an international digital video streaming service and online community as well as an overall video production company that propagates non-scientific ideas and both paranormal and supernatural beliefs to more than 500,000 subscribers in 120 countries globally. Since the creation of its own Facebook page back in 2011, various videos, ranging from ancient alien astronaut theories to the healing power of glass pyramids with crystal stones, have gotten hundreds of thousands if not millions of views already. Furthermore, more than 2 million people like the company’s page, increasing the amount of advertisements. Their Twitter account has more than 30,000 followers and more than 300,000 followers on Instagram. When it comes to their daily articles on their main website, various topics include the presence of Reptilians or humanoid creatures who resemble modern reptilian lizards, three steps to remember past lives as a sign of reincarnation, and a Republican congressional candidate from Florida who claims that she was once abducted by tall blonde aliens from outer space.
Although much of the content put out by Gaia is outrageously bizarre and often comical, at a time when billions of ordinary people around the world are being exposed to fake news and alternative facts, especially young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five or even younger, this particular type of New Age content by Gaia and other websites could cause widespread misinformation about scientific claims with little to no current credible or possible evidence at all. Additionally, as secular humanists, we should be highly concerned that companies or organizations like Gaia can redefine people’s self-identity as “spiritual but not religious” rather than encouraging an exploration of one’s own freethinking skeptical abilities. Not to mention that these are the same people and organizations that are more likely to push anti-Western medicine.
For example, radio talk show host and conspiracy theorist George Noory invited Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny to speak on the website’s original program, “Beyond Belief with George Noory.” Tenpenny is one of the few doctors in the world who are part of the anti-vaccine and vaccine skeptic communities that claim this type of life-saving modern medicine causes autism (which has been proven wrong multiple times by public health agencies such as the CDC). Another example of Gaia pushing dangerous conspiracy theories to the public at large is the streaming of Zeitgeist: The Movie, in which filmmaker Peter Joseph suggests that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a government conspiracy perpetrated by the George W. Bush administration in order to build dominance in the Middle East, which has been disproven many times by the 9/11 Commission. Furthermore, Gaia advocates unproven medical treatments and techniques for well-being and personal health such as sound healing yoga and magnetic crystals inside human brains that are supposed to unlock psychic powers.
Gaia also proliferates pseudo-historical and pseudo-archeological claims, such as the ancient alien astronaut theory in which extraterrestrials influenced our human history on Earth, or that ancient shamans from pre-Columbian Latin America had the ability to store information into biological DNA.
So, when you see sites like Gaia popping up on your Facebook page, just be careful and stay vigilant of content that could harm progress, even if it doesn’t come from traditional conservative or fundamentalist sources. Secular nonbelievers must call out not only superstitious, paranormal, or supernatural claims made by traditional religious faiths or practices, but also need to heavily critique and comment on the rise of spiritual New Ageism in the new media landscape where history, science, and reality itself can be manipulated, falsified, or distorted by those who have a serious following and large financial support.