QAnon believers have been left holding the bag.
After years of build-up for a reckoning against the Evil Elite, it was all supposed to come to a head by January 20, 2021.
But it didn’t.
In fact, quite the opposite happened. Trump incited a violent mob of ‘patriots,’ but he quickly lost his nerve and issued a round of apologies. The hero in the eyes of so many QAnon believers, denounced those patriots, gave up his baseless fight against election fraud, and left the White House with his tail tucked firmly beneath his legs.
The conspiracy theorists who built so much hope in these message board scriptures are now forced to reconcile with reality.
They’ve ruined relationships, they’ve ruined lives, and at the very least, they’ve ruined their reputations. It’s easy to ridicule these people, but let’s take a moment to consider the benefits of welcoming them back to the real world.
Check out this video detailing the confused reactions from QAnon supporters:
The media has widely covered the current state of confusion amongst the die-hard QAnon fans since President Joe Biden was inaugurated yesterday. These fans stuck with Trump after he lost the election, fully buying into the theory that it was rigged. They got so worked up that many of them stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. Some even lost their lives.
Many of them probably thought it was worth it, as they still believed that on January 20th, these satanic pedophiles that run the world would be exposed and executed by their hero, Donald Trump.
And when none of that happened, they didn’t know what to do.
According to MarketWatch, one QAnon believer took to a popular Q channel on Telegram to say:
I am so scared right now, I really feel nothing is going to happen now. I’m just devastated.
BBC quoted another Telegram user as saying they wanted to “throw up,” and they were “so sick of all the disinformation and false hope.”
“It’s done and we were played,” said another.
Ron Watkins helped give QAnon a platform on the message board 8kun; some even theorized he was the mythical “Q” character. Now he’s moving on to ‘new projects.’
Of course, it’s a crushing moment for these die-hard believers. Not only was their entire worldview dismantled, but many of them sacrificed important relationships to ‘the movement.’
They had become so invested in the story that was fed to them on the internet that they were willing to turn their backs on their families.
One Texas protestor, Guy Reffitt, threatened to shoot his children if they told police that he was involved in the Capitol riots. He was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and unlawful entry into a restricted building.
One protestor was killed in the riots. She was a QAnon supporter who tweeted out the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA” before attending the rallies:
The family estrangement associated with these radical conspiracy theories has been well documented . These people invested their lives into a lie. And while they may have acted in absurd ways, it’s time to let them back in, if they’re willing.
It’s tempting to kick these people while they’re down, or at the very least, to make fun of them. They were so confident that they right that some might feel like it’s their duty to highlight their mistakes.
But it’s not worth it. At best, you get a few minutes of redemption. Maybe you get some retweets if that’s what you’re into. But people believed in QAnon because they didn’t have much hope. They literally had to scan the internet for something, anything, to bring some purpose into their lives.
Professor Danagal Young told NPR that people who believe in conspiracies like QAnon are looking to belong to a group identity more than they’re seeking information:
Because these belief systems are not about the information within them, but about the identity and the emotions that are appealed to through them, the only thing that can actually combat them effectively are loving, trusting, emotional connections.
According to MarketWatch, white supremacist groups are already trying to recruit disillusioned QAnon supporters.
Watch this video explaining the similarities between QAnon and Neo-Nazism:
If these people remain shunned by their friends and families, then it’s not a far stretch to imagine them joining one of these other, even more dangerous extremist groups.
Young recommends an approach of compassion:
Come at them with unconditional love, as hard as that is, reminding them of the preexisting bonds that you have.
These people feel lost and maligned, and we shouldn’t keep them in the shadows by mocking them or shunning them. We should all do our best to welcome them back into the light.
Even if QAnon is crumbling, some of its sayings still apply–most notably, “where we go one, we go all” (WWG1WGA).