In 2016 my granddad went on holiday to Greece and disappeared. He left his hotel one morning and just never returned. No idea where he had gone. The police couldn’t find him on the small island, no reports of him since.
This is not about a conspiracy theory, this about someones life and the pain of the family left behind that have no answers.
Which is why I’m fed up on people’s blatant willingness to decide to muster up absolutely ridiculous ideas or stories about what happens to missing people. The obvious one that comes to mind is Madeline McCann, whose story I’m sure everyone knows as well as the thousands of theories about what happened to her, where she went, who took her, if she’s dead or who killed her. And frankly, I couldn’t care less. At the end of the day a little girl went missing and was never found and that’s really sad. We may never know what happened to her. But I don’t think that spreading and continuing stories about the “ifs” is helpful to anyone except the part of human nature where we like to think about the unknown. But thanks to the latest Netflix documentary I have to listen to everyone witter on about it like they’re suddenly professional investigators who erroneously believe that lie detectors tests are a legitimate investigatory tool to use, rather than pseudo-scientific nonsense that leave somebody’s innocence down to a roll of the dice.
Another example, which isn’t exactly the same but on a similar note, is this idea of a “canal pusher” being responsible for a significant amount of deaths in Manchester. I’ve seen so many calls for information by police, family, friends and the public about young people (particularly boys) who go missing after nights out. After a certain number of days and no recent sightings the inevitable news story breaks that a body has been found. Now some people have taken it upon themselves to become self proclaimed detectives and deciding that due the sheer number of instances that this has happened….and one story about someone getting pushed into a canal…that there is now a serial killer in Manchester. The preposterousness of their willingness to ignore the obvious facts honestly infurients me. These incidents occur because alcohol or drugs have been consumed so inhibitions are low, bad choices are made such as to walk along the canal (which I believe girls won’t do due to fear of being attacked on this unsafe dark walkway), the lack of barriers alongside the waterside, the fact there won’t be a lot of people around in the early hours of the morning. People end up in shock from hitting cold water then are unable to swim properly or get out, and instead drown. People die and it’s sad. It’s not a mystery. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s not helpful to spread these rumours and lead police on a wild goose chase or giving false hope to those close to them that this is an issue that can be solely blamed on one person.
But I will tell you what is real. the feeling of my stomach dropping when my dad picked up that first phone to hear my granddad had gone missing. The way I couldn’t breathe properly after crying because i hated the waiting and uncertainty of it all. The strange feeling of being in an empty house that doesn’t contain the person it should. the sting of sadness i get when my nan, on my mum’s side, who has memory issues asks my dad for the millionth time in a visit if they’ve heard anything. she always jokes that maybe he’s found a greek lady friend and decided to live out there. It’s a nice innocent idea. But it’s not the reality of the situation. instead its all the legal stuff and gathering evidence to prove that this person is not alive to then get a death certificate so we can start to organise what to do with his belongings. Usually you have to wait 7 years before someone is believed to be dead if you don’t start the process any earlier. I can’t imagine having to wait 7 years on the hope he is still alive. maybe its easier for me to believe to story of his mysterious holiday romance but his life isn’t a book. It’s just life and its not always happy. by accepting the only reasonable explanation for his disappearance we can grieve over the loss and attempt to move on. If other families of missing people want to continue to look for that person then that’s entirely their choice and the circumstances may be completely different so i am not judging anyone for that decision.
At the end of the day I think that conspiracy theories can be fun, if you understand the point that is most likely just a theory and most probably not true. There are real people with emotions behind those stories and when you begin to aggressively believe in something without it being proven then it can become dangerous.