Mood Rings and Conspiracy Theorists

Mood Rings and Conspiracy Theorists October 13, 2021

While traveling in Oregon this summer, I went into a souvenir shop and purchased a couple of mood rings for my grandkids. Perhaps you had one when you were a child? If you’ve forgotten what they are, they’re rings that you slip over your fingers, and they’re supposed to change color based on the emotions you’re feeling.

After I gave them to my grandchildren, they were mesmerized for the rest of the afternoon. They believed the rings to be magical. Later in the evening my granddaughter approached me and insisted I hold the ring I gave her in the palm of hand so she could discover what mood I was in. After checking the ring’s color, she grabbed it out of my hand and looked dejected.

“Grandpa,” she said, “You’re always in a good mood.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t live in a perpetual state of bliss. But she’d figured out by then that the ring had the power to lie. Sure, it changed color, but the color was not matching her true moods.

About a week later I saw my grandson still playing with his ring and he looked even more disappointed. Irked, in fact. I asked, “What’s wrong?”

He said, “My mood ring says I’m happy, but I’m not.”

Except in his case, he was mad, but he just didn’t want to feel happy. And the more the ring told him how happy he was the more infuriated he got!

My grandson’s seven. This got me to wondering why he was choosing to be unhappy instead of happy. Do we really start developing our tendencies to be negative at such an early age?

The people who don’t like people

Do people who don’t learn to control their anger at an early age later develop more intense forms of negativity and pessimism? Are they the ones who end up as the person sitting all alone at the senior living care facility because nobody can stand to spend time with them? / Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Around 2006 my family and I moved up to what’s known as the Last Frontier, Alaska. Being new residents, we were called Cheechakos. This is a jargon term from the Chinook language of the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, residents who have survived at least a few Alaskan winters become Sourdoughs.

The origins of the word Sourdough are less known, but I personally think it has a lot to do with the overall mood or outlook of longtime Alaskan residents. Many are tough, resilient loners who homesteaded in the Alaskan wilderness and survived many brutally harsh winters.

This might not be the most politically correct thing to say . . . but if you’ve ever lived in Alaska you’ll understand why I say this: There are people in Alaska that just don’t like people. I mean, they’re human beings and all that, but they don’t like their own kind; their own species.

My experience was that many of these Sourdoughs . . . well, had the persona of rising sourdough bread. Aside from their resiliency, you could tell they harbored a bitterness about life was that heaving within them. I’ve had my run-ins with a few of them, when saying even “good morning” would set them off with deep seeded rage.

All of which makes me wonder . . . Do people who don’t learn to control their anger at an early age later develop more intense forms of negativity and pessimism? Are they the ones who end up as the person sitting alone at the senior living care facility because nobody can stand to spend time with them?

The relationship between truth and mental health

But you know who takes the cake these days for being some of the most visibly miserable people? Conspiracy theorists.

Every conspiracy theorist I meet or converse with is filled with an undercurrent of rage. Much like Cheechakos, they don’t seem to like people either. Like even their own neighbors, because somehow they’ve gotten it in their heads that their neighbors have become the enemy.

Since conspiracy theorists tend not to rely on facts, their minds seem to be always in turmoil. Upon hearing an avalanche of QAnon prophesies one day, they can never rest assured that those prophesies will be fulfilled the next day. They seem to while away their days in a state of panic, scouring the internet for proof that what they were told yesterday is actually true.

Their sense of paranoia is also obvious even to most casual observers. Whether exploding in fits of rage at school board meetings, or being duck-tapped to airline seats for refusing to wear masks, as time marches on they are becoming more aggressive and hostile by the day.

Which got me to wondering . . .  Is there a correlation between the truth and one’s mental health? Do individuals who have a firm grasp of reality tend to be more content and optimistic? And does believing in lies and falsehoods lead to being an angry, miserable pessimist?


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About Scott R Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister, a proud member of the Clergy Project, and writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides, Picking Wings Off Butterflies and How to Escape Religion Guilt Free. You can read more about the author here.

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12 responses to “Mood Rings and Conspiracy Theorists”

  1. Your historical blurb of the day:

    As part of the California Gold Rush, sourdough was the principal bread made in Northern California and is still a part of the culture of San Francisco today.
    The bread was so common at that time the word “sourdough” became a nickname for the gold prospectors.
    In The Yukon and Alaska, a “sourdough” is also a nickname given to someone who has spent an entire winter north of the Arctic Circle. It refers to their tradition of protecting their sourdough during the coldest months by keeping it close to their body.
    The sourdough tradition was also carried into Alaska and western Canadian territories during the Klondike Gold Rush.

  2. Thanks for more history on the subject. I have a link in the article that talks about the origins of sourdough, but you did a better job explaining it in your comment.

    Incidentally, I visited with a friend of mine a few weeks back who also spent time in Alaska. She likes to bake and usually with sourdough. Her starter sourdough is about 100 years old.

  3. Interesting about sourdough, and I had guessed that the name came from the bread they ate first, and maybe their personality later.

    My take on conspiracy theorists and Conservatives is that they’re fearful people who operate out of that fear. Anyone who’s been really, truly afraid (for example, in a life-or-death situation) knows that it’s hard to think clearly because the emotions are running wild.

    My take on people-who-hate-people (great, now I’m singing that Barbra Streisand song…) are everywhere, but maybe more of them in the west and places like Alaska because they chose to come out there to get away from people. Think about it this way: people who are doing great and are happy tend to stay where they are. People who want something more or different tend to go looking for it.

  4. More on conspiracy theorists and conservatives… My theory is their minds are driven primarily by emotions. You’ve heard of cognitive dissonance, which involves people who look for information to confirm their biases. This would be cognitive dissonance 2.0, in which people not only look for information that feeds their biases, but they seek information that feeds the emotions (or state of mind) their brains primarily function under.

    This way of thinking is completely different from a person who values facts and rational thought. In which case, getting the right and proper information comes first, and whatever emotions that information solicits comes afterwords.

    Seems like every time I talk with a conspiracy theorist their minds turn to how much they hate a particular person or group of people. Folks like Biden, Fauci, or the “liberal” school board member. They become blinded by their rage and a visceral hatred. For conservatives, or Bible believing folks in general, this explains in part why it’s easy for them to demonize people.

    These kinds of examples really show the similarities in how the minds of a conspiracy theorists and a fanatical Bible thumper really works. Their minds feed primarily on emotions, mostly hatred and anger, which is quite different from rational thinkers.

  5. LOL, I’m quite aware of cognitive dissonance and I’ve marvelled at people who can hold two completely opposite ideas in their heads and insist they’re both true.

    I think I’ve mentioned my BIL, the CT believer, before. His phenomenally good with his hands–he can build anything structural or mechanical. But I suspect he’s always had a learning disability that was never diagnosed. Reading is very difficult for him and it’s painful to listen to him reading. So he listens to the radio while he works…and what’s on the radio? Lots of rightwing and conspiracy theory stuff, which he parrots back.

  6. P.S. I had a mood ring briefly in the 1970s. Mine stayed the same color all the time, so I stopped wearing it.

    I think it just measures the warmth/coolness of your finger?

  7. Interesting. . . my CT in-law (also very good with his hands) says he did really bad in English while growing up and hates to read. Couldn’t spell if his life depended on it. Yet, super smart in other areas. Like BIL, he listens to 4-8 hours of CT BS everyday. Just mindless, blubbering commentary filled with hateful dribble.

    These days, if a person really wants to know the truth, they are going to have to work at it. Reading quality journalism, and cross referencing facts is the only way to learn the truth. I don’t don’t of an CTs though that are willing to work this hard.

  8. Yeah, the material they are made from changes color with the temperature. Since our body temperature stays the same so does the ring color.

    When my grandson got madder and madder, because the ring he wore was not changing color based on his increasing anger, I thought it was hilarious. But he learned an important lesson. Don’t trust woo woo nonsense. Rings don’t magically change color based on how a person feels.

  9. To be fair, children don’t yet understand what is possible and what is woo. They have to learn, just as we all had to learn it. That ring was a great lesson because it was harmless; nobody got hurt, just disappointed. Instead of telling him that the rings don’t work and why they don’t, you let him discover for himself. That’s excellent practice for real life.

  10. A reflection I had on listening; humans have a tradition of telling stories. When a story is just a story for entertainment value, nobody takes it seriously. There are bad actors who insist their made-up stories are true, and CTs take what they hear seriously. Their daily exposure to it just rubs it in.

    Back in the late 1980s, a new television station (Fox) featured a show about sensational crimes. I was in college and we only got tv reception in a couple of places on campus, the computer lab being one. I worked in the lab, so I watched a fair number of these thrilling tales. The boss kept insisting it was just garbage and would rot our brains and teach us to trust everything we heard as real. He was right to be concerned.

  11. Another reflection I had on CT’s. The one I know tells stories a lot, often the same stories over and over, and the stories get bigger and more fanciful the more I hear them. The details (the FACTS) seem irrelevant to him.

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