I think about conspiracy theorists a lot, reading about them when I can. Obviously there’s some degree of grifting going on, but it’s near impossible to tell where the grifting ends and the belief begins. People in sales talk about believing in what you’re selling, but does someone selling tickets to a seminar on chemtrails? I’m sure at some point they saw it as a way to make money, or to gain notoriety, or even just some friends. They begin as impostors but get in too deep. They eventually fully embody their views and they’re swallowed whole; the person indistinguishable from their gospel.

I work in tech, and ‘impostor’ is instead used from the inside looking out. An impostor in this sense is somebody who feels like they lack the skills or knowledge to succeed in their company. This is obviously a threat to anyone’s ability to be successful but this is not about that. There are plenty of better words about that elsewhere.

The bigger problem are the people who are impostors in the other way: they believe it so hard that they cease to be real people.

You see it most clearly during a fire drill. The filing cabinet for small startups spills all its disruption into the street. I’m told that’s a shirt referencing a Bitcoin inside joke. That man is wearing a set of shoulder holsters—like for pistols—but they have an iPhone and a Moleskine in each.

Later, a message in the conversation pit1 tells us that the alarm was triggered by an adjoining building full of art students. Maybe impostors of yet a different kind, but they are the only people that can disrupt the disruption.

  1. rhymes with ‘black’