Las Vegas shooting victim goes offline to escape Internet trolls

An Okanagan man who survived the Vegas shooting is being harassed by conspiracy theorists …

Braden Matejka narrowly escaped the worst mass shooting in US history, and now he’s weathering another threat.

The Okanagan man recently shut down all of his online accounts as the only way to gird himself against conspiracy theorists and internet trolls who are harassing him, said his older brother Brock Matejkae.

Braden has been called a “crisis actor” and a meme circulating in the days after he went public with his ordeal had the words “I’m a lying c***t!” under his image. The vitriol ramped up in the days and weeks that followed and comments like “ I hope you really get shot in the head” became increasingly common.

RELATED: LAKE COUNTRY MAN RECOUNTS BEING SHOT IN THE HEAD

Shutting down his personal accounts wasn’t his brother’s first choice, said Brock. He tried to reason with the army of conspiracy theorists, but his efforts fell on deaf ears.

“It bothers him, but he’s trying to not really worry about what they have to say, too much,” said Brock. “He knows the keyboard warriors living in their grandmothers’s basements have nothing better to do than victimize other people…. There’s no talking to those people. They’re so gone in the thought process, there’s no reasoning with them.”

Plus, Braden has other things to worry about. The bullet that grazed his head caused a concussion and he’s still suffering the symptoms.

“His vision gets blurred and he has headaches, and that’s going to take time to get over,” said Brock. “He’s still not working, but he has an evaluation coming up (next month) and then they’ll know for sure what’s happening then.”

It’s surreal, however, to those who love Braden that he’s had this response as he’s tried to heal.

“You don’t get much more real and realistic than him,” Brock said of his brother.

According to an article published Friday in the Guardian, Braden isn’t the only victim of the Las Vegas mass shooting dealing with a backlash.

It’s an increasingly common event after a crisis unfolds and YouTube and various other social media destinations are rife with commentary about survivors from mass shootings being “emergency on-screen characters.”

It’s an idea promoted by InfoWars personality Alex Jones. Through his radio show and website, Jones has claimed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a “false flag” operation and that Sept. 11 was an inside job by the government.

RELATED: CONSPIRACY THEORISTS ARE UNDERMINING OUR OVERALL WELL BEING

While there have always been conspiracy theorists, what’s changed is the amount of tread these ideas are getting, said Andrew Irvine, a UBC Okanagan professor in math and philosophy.

“Conspiracy theories are driven by wanting a conclusion to be true rather than following the evidence where it leads,” he said.

“If you are a dentist, you don’t just put in fillings where you want. You do the work, take the X-Rays follow the evidence and then put in the fillings. The same goes when you are a police officer—you follow the evidence. ”

Humans have always relied on finding meaningful patterns in the world around us and making causal inferences. We sometimes, however, see patterns and causal connections that are not there, especially when we feel that events are beyond our control, he said.

Historically there were ways we could deal with that. We’d turn to institutions we trust to guide us through the dark, but we as a society are deep in the throes of an information distribution shift and trust is becoming a rare commodity.

“If conspiracy theories are going up in popularity it’s in part because of a lack of trust in our institutions, like politicians, the media or (universities),” Irvine said.

“A certain amount of skepticism is good and healthy in society but we need to have trust in our neighbours and our institutions to function.”

So what caused people en masse to turn away from the institutions that follow evidence?

“We have new media—in one sense it’s wonderful, it’s democracy in action and everyone can have a say. People can go online to start a website or a blog inexpensively,” he said.

“In another way, we have to realize not all news is made equal. Some fact check, some don’t. And we have to understand the quality of output we are getting there.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP seek witnesses after assault leaves man with broken facial bones

Incident occurred 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, near Superstore, say police

Scouting report promising for Nanaimo Clippers with training camp around the corner

BCHL scouts Island Division champs as league anticipates 2020-21 season

Two motorcycles crash on Nanaimo’s Terminal Avenue, one rider injured

Collision happened at 9 a.m. Thursday near Cypress Street intersection

Sport performance centre’s physically distanced fitness program fuels food bank

Prime Sport Performance and Therapy presents $3,000 to Loaves and Fishes

Regional District of Nanaimo exploring mountain biking as an economic driver

Nanaimo Hospitality Association executive says coordinated trail network could lead to job creation

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 12

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read