Pity the old-time fringe lunatic. There was no internet. The number of radio stations was limited (primarily am and almost entirely commercial). Cable television hadn’t appeared and, as yet, the neighbour’s ability to demonstrate his aptitude for collecting bottle caps wasn’t a weekly feature on the airwaves.
It was a lonely time.
If you had a theory (well, OK, to you it was fact) about world events you had to write a letter to the editor, publish a book, or stand on a street corner and shout your truth to the masses.
It was very difficult to have your voice be heard. Most never found many similar-minded lunatics, they vanished into history without attracting a following or making their mark.
The problem with writing letters or books is that much of your target audience wasn’t, well, let’s say educated. If you need to reach those with limited analytical leanings, or world views, then requiring a level of literacy above the 2nd grade is a handicap.
Luckily, for those whose voices once echoed in the wilderness, the world has changed. A majority of their potential followers now can find their leaders. Awesome! These fringe truths are out there waiting to be discovered, and embraced, by the multitudes.
In the United States↑ alone, almost 80% of the population has internet access. Even if they don’t find your blog, or profound announcements on social media, they could find you on just one of the 14,952 radio stations (as of December 2011↑). Heck, they don’t even need to be able to spell conspiracy to appreciate your broadcast thoughts. The lunatics are no longer sad and alone.
One of the lasting impacts of this brave new world is that our definition of “fringe” is changing. Much like the ever expanding universe, the notion of “ridiculous”, in terms of reasonable and credible, has shifted. Television is proof of that.
Of course, Galileo was a fringe lunatic. I can only hope that somewhere in the noise there is another one. It would make the insanity worthwhile.