There has also been a fair amount of news about the Baldwin household to keep the masses entertained and horrified. Before the Rust shooting, the couple announced in March 2021 that they had welcomed a daughter, Lucia, via surrogate just months after their fifth child, Eduardo, was born in September 2020. While Hilaria shares a lot about her children online, the Baldwins have never discussed why they hired a surrogate or commented on the fact that they had two babies less than nine months apart.
Some commenters floated a theory that after giving birth to her first child, Hilaria chose to not carry another baby herself, and that because her brand relied heavily on being a “hot mom who bounces back from pregnancy,” she actively decided to pretend to be pregnant four more times.
To these folks, it’s not a huge intellectual leap to go from believing that Hilaria faked her heritage for more than a decade to believing that she was faking her pregnancies, too.
“I believe she only gave birth to the first one, hated it, or Alec hated that his baby doll sex toy was put out of commission, so they hatched this giant family/ super mamí/ snap back bullshit,” one person wrote.
This theory intensifies the hatred against Hilaria, and the outrages in turn fuel a kind of mass distaste that often appears in these sorts of groups, leading to a sense among their members that they must spend time “proving” the allegations in order to bring someone down.
Mohini Tellakat, a researcher who studied online communities for her PhD in behavioral analytics and social psychology, told me that people usually get sucked into these sorts of conspiracies because they’re interested in a topic, like celebrity gossip, and derive a sense of belonging and purpose from chatting with others about it.
“There is a sense of, OK, I found my people, we’re here together, and it snowballs,” she said.
When the hive mind of conspiracy theorizing emerges, Tellakat said, the desire to remain in the group and continue to get positive reinforcement overrides any doubt they may privately feel.
“It’s not necessarily groupthink, but a group-mindedness,” she said, “OK, now I belong. OK, we’re all saying these things, and I like having this community, I like having this attention, so we’re going to keep going. … It kind of threatens a sense of self if they were to be like, Hold on, wait, this is too crazy, right?”
After exchanging a few DMs with McNasty420, they told me they wanted to clarify the nature of their interest. They aren’t “fascinated” with Hilaria or the Baldwins, they said, and they definitely aren’t some “fangirl loser whose whole life revolves around this thirsty Z-lister.” The subreddit is mainly for fun, they said.
“I just enjoy a good train wreck and this family just keeps delivering it tenfold each time,” they wrote. “I never expected the subreddit to get this big. … I was just trying to expose the grift because media wasn’t picking it up and I knew it could be a huge story.”
But what does the rest of the community want? In a recent thread, commenters discussed how, by dissecting Hilaria’s social media presence, they had been able to work through some toxic relationships and experiences with people they said had personality disorders. Others said that criticizing public figures they consider toxic helps them feel better about themselves.
“I look forward to a world where the majority of decent folk understand exactly how to identify these dangerous people … and support each other in our daily lives,” one person wrote. “A big part of that will be ending the horrendous ‘influencer’ industry.”
Hilaria has never addressed the theories directly, but often decries “online bullies” who attack her.
“Why am I speaking about bullying so much?” she wrote in a recent post. “Because I want to make a change, shining kindness on emotional violence. I can’t change the bullies, but I can encourage changing the way we interact with them. Learning their tactics and seeing through them. Losing our fear and and feelings of being intimidated. I speak up because I’m a mama and I don’t want my babies to feel the sadness and darkness I have felt.”
While theorizing about Hilaria may be on its face a more focused extension of regular gossip, Tellakat cautioned people in these sorts of groups to examine if they are falling in too deep.
“It might be harming … the person internally,” she said. She suggested that if someone is getting very involved in this kind of speculation that they check in with themselves.
“If none of your old friends are hanging out with you anymore or everybody keeps checking in on you and you just keep throwing them out, you’ve got a problem. But you also have to have the self-awareness to know that that’s happening. And that’s not always easy,” she said. ●