Why are Flat-Earthers having such a huge year online?

There are hundreds of memes making fun of flat Earth by feigning a devout belief in it, and a lot of them are pretty entertaining. Know Your Meme even counts “Flat Earth” as a genre of meme, and provides a helpful timeline of its spread, mainly across Reddit. Know Your Meme editor Matt Schimkowitz told me there’s a rhythm to the growth of theories like flat Earth. They’ll show up on 4chan and Reddit and believers will start out as the subject of ridicule. Their belief will become a joke that’s repeated faux-sincerely and increasingly emphatically by people who consider everything they say to be “ironic.” That’s where memes come in, and in this case they represent a style of mockery that looks an awful lot like agreement. “From there it can kind of spiral,” he says. “It can attract people who are looking to believe in these kinds of things, looking for things to confirm what they believe — like the government’s out to get them, scientists are lying to us, that sort of deal. What starts as an ironic thing eventually reaches people who are willing to go along with it. From there you have sort of full-blown conspiracy theories. It reaches a new level.”