‘I fell down the QAnon rabbit hole and it ended my faith in humanity’
Climate change is a hoax, the world is flat, 5G is killing us and the Covid vaccines contain teeny microchips so Bill Gates can track us all.
We’ve all heard these conspiracy theories at some point. But most of us don’t even entertain their validity – or lack of.
They’re wildly hyperbolic, defy scientific consensus and just seem inherently conspiracy-like. And so, after their five minutes of fame, they exit our minds and fall into irrelevance.
But there’s one conspiracy that has managed to push its way into the mainstream and stay there – dragging with it some pretty disturbing consequences.
I’m talking about QAnon, which in the space of four years has managed to rake up a cult-like following in America and take the grimier corners of the internet by storm.
It all began after an anonymous user posted a thread on the online bulletin board 4Chan, claiming to be a high-ranking government insider with access to classified information.
The original post has been deleted but, as with anything that gets posted on the internet, it’s still out there and easy to find.
And when I did, I wish I didn’t.
The post, titled ‘Bread Crumbs – Q Clearance Patriot’, is filled with disjointed questions, abbreviations, cryptic statements and pro-Donald Trump rhetoric which jumps from seemingly unrelated topics such as the military to Hollywood.
It feels like you’ve crawled inside the mind of someone completely devoid of reality, someone simultaneously paranoid and yet overly confident, who is typing at the same manic pace as their mind.
You can just imagine them shrouded in a black hoodie, hiding in a public cafe so they’re untraceable, thinking they’re doing a public service to the world for shedding light on the world’s biggest secret.
Frantic – and borderline insane. I mean, read this and tell me your skin doesn’t crawl.
“NK [North Korea] is not being run by Kim, he’s an actor in the play. Who is the director? The truth would sound so outrageous most Americans would riot, revolt, reject etc,” the post reads.
“The pedo networks are being dismantled. The child abductions for satanic rituals (ie Haiti and other 3rd world countries) are paused (not terminated until players [are] in custody).
“We pray every single day for God’s guidance and direction as we are truly up against evil…
“We’re in one of the most critical times of our country. Trump and others are working to balance the [sic] we’re doing well for America whole at the same time purify our government and remove the bad actors who are entrenched.”
If none of that made any sense to you whatsoever – let me translate.
QAnon followers believe the world is run by a secret political clique of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic paedophiles who operate a global child trafficking network.
Said cabal claims to includes Democrat politicians such as Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, as well as celebs like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks. It even supposedly includes religious figures such as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama.
Many followers believe that these people not only sexually abuse and molest children, but also kill and eat their victims to consume a life-extending chemical named adrenochrome.
It’s a very similar ideology to Pizzagate – the wild conspiracy that went viral during the 2016 US election after Hilary Clinton’s campaign chair had his emails hacked.
Believers of the debunked conspiracy said the leaked emails contained coded messages that linked Democratic Party officials and US restaurants with an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring.
But QAnon has cleverly developed this already-bizarre theory to appeal to America’s far-right, as it presents former president Donald Trump as a saviour.
According to the theory, Trump was actually recruited by military generals to become president and bring the lucrative cabal of cannibalistic paedophiles to an end.
In fact, the code-named Q predicted that “The Storm” will soon come – where Trump will unmask the truth and punish members of the cabal for their crimes. Some even believe the Democrats and evil celebs will be sent to prison in Guantanamo Bay.
Now, I hope you’re reading this in utter disbelief and almost find it funny how someone could possibly even entertain such a ludicrous set of beliefs.
But, QAnon has tapped into something no other conspiracy theory has managed to do. It enmeshes its crazy with elements of the truth – and it is this which really entices people in.
We all know that Jeffery Epstein owned a private bolthole in the Caribbean that locals referred to as “Paedophile Island”.
The island had dozens of staff when Epstein used it as his primary residence, and he is known to have hosted many rich and powerful guests.
But it gained a reputation for depravity, according to locals, and there have been allegations of child sexual abuse, human trafficking and orgies.
It is alleged Epstein continued to bring underage girls and young women to the island as recently as the months before his arrest in July 2019.
None of this is a conspiracy – even though the exact truth will never really be known.
But it’s easy to believe that a man with so much wealth and power had used his status to abuse others.
It’s easy to believe that the elite are above the law, and can buy their way out of sticky situations.
And so, dare I say it, the very core of QAnon contains a grain of truth – and it is this nod of acceptance that can really suck you in.
Because once you believe part of it – you’re already in quicksand.
The conspiracy takes advantage of what we understand is true, and what we fear could be true, and presents a solution to this corrupt and evil world: Donald Trump.
The former POTUS is portrayed as a messiah in this story. He is there to save the day and restore the equilibrium; to beat the villains and (you guessed it) Make America Great Again.
And it’s working.
“A group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media.”
According to a 2020 Ipsos poll, 17% of Americans believe that statement is true. A whopping 37% said they were unsure.
Equally disturbing, 39% percent of Americans said the ‘deep state’ was working to undermine President Trump.
The New York Times says QAnon supporters have “flooded social media with false information about Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and the presidential election”.
As a result, Facebook, TikTok and a slew of other social media platforms have banned QAnon-related posts. But the brainwashed don’t just read: they act.
Their logo was also seen on the hoodies of several people who stormed the Capitol earlier this year, and QAnon theories have been seen on signs during US protests against vaccines and Covid lockdowns.
Reddit was one of the catalysts in spreading awareness of QAnon. Now, it has a sub-page devoted to people sharing their stories of how the conspiracy has ruined the lives of their loved ones.
There are countless anecdotes from people who now have strained relationships with their parents or friends over fights on whether the cabal exists or whether Trump really is the good guy.
It’s a difficult read, and so I closed the tab and tested whether QAnon has really been banned from the internet.
It took me around 20 seconds to find a TikTok of a woman arguing with her daughter about how the world is managed by flesh-eating Satanists; less than a minute to find merch, audiobooks and original posts from when the theory started; a hot second to find thousands of people who believe this like it’s the gospel.
It’s everywhere, online and off, and it’s no exaggeration to say this could have deadly consequences for America.