It seems quaint to think that at the start of 2020—hell, on Nov. 3, 2020—the majority of Americans were likely still completely unaware of the sprawling, web-based conspiracy theory we now know as QAnon. Suffice to say, things have changed in the last few months—it's difficult to imagine anyone following the news of the Capitol riots hasn't picked up at least the barest understanding of the danger presented by believers of this particularly warped alternate reality. The threat of mass delusion represented by QAnon has now gone mainstream, which makes it both easier and harder for rational Americans to fight.
If you've only seen the term plastered around, though, and still don't know what it all means, here's the most basic summary I can offer: QAnon is a disproven and baseless far-right conspiracy theory that essentially alleges the world is run by a Satanic cabal of left-wing cannibalistic pedophiles and child traffickers. The "cabal" is all-encompassing and controls every aspect of liberal politics, global infrastructure, higher education, popular culture, mass media and worldwide charitable organizations. Anyone and everyone who isn't a Q believer is "the cabal," and the cabal wields this influence so it can establish some sort of tyrannical New World Order while also doing batshit things like drinking the imaginary drug "adrenochrome," which they believe liberals are extracting from children to achieve immortality. Yes, this is what they actually believe.
QAnon proponents note that they actually call themselves "anons," and they get their communications from "Q," a mysterious online presence who purports to be a high-ranking U.S. government official with access to secret information. Originally starting on fringe imageboard 4chan, "Q" passes along this information via extremely vague, prophetic sounding "Q Drops," which are then interpreted by online influencers who have built up their own cults of personality as what are essentially the high priests of this particular cult. The objects of worship are twofold: Q himself, and Donald J. Trump.
Q practitioners love Trump like a sane person might love the idea of world peace, or warm cinnamon rolls. According to Q, Trump is waging a secret holy war against the cabal and The Deep State, sometimes mentioned as different things but often treated as one and the same—a malignant group of embedded politicians who seek to thwart his will. From the beginning, they have believed that Trump will sweep all the bad guys aside in an ever just-around-the-corner event known as "The Storm," which will involve mass arrests of everyone that Anons disagree with, culminating in military tribunals and televised public executions. These people really love the idea of mass, televised executions, by the way. They even believe that many public figures who died in the last four years were actually secretly executed or assassinated—if you're thirsty for blood and haven't been given any, you can always invent fake executions, right? Especially if the alternative is admitting that none of Q's predictions have ever been correct.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, given all the Trump worship, the Nov. 2020 election was a jolt to the system of QAnon believers. Trump was "guaranteed" to win a crushing victory that would affirm his last four years of relative inaction, leading to a glorious second term as President in which "The Storm" would finally take place, and "the swamp" would finally be drained. Instead, Trump lost the election by more than 7 million votes to Joe Biden, sending some members of QAnon into a tailspin of cognitive dissonance and disbelief, as we wrote about at the time. Predictably, Q has also gone silent online, and currently hasn't posted in more than a month.
As we noted then, however, a conspiracy theory like this is like a hydra—when one head is chopped off, two more will summarily take its place. As is always the case with cultish thinking, the Q interpreters and influencers simply changed their interpretation of Q's always vague proclamations, pointed to the numerous ways Trump could still magically reverse the election results, and insisted that #BidenWillNeverBePresident. They've continued poring over every communication from Trump, believing they contain secret messages.
Since Nov. 3, 2020, Trump's movement, his legal team, and his QAnon die-hards have witnessed too many setbacks, embarrassments, defeats and rebukes to count, culminating in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C., which saw countless QAnon tee shirts and flags in attendance.
Wanting to document this insane period for posterity, I began intently following QAnon accounts all over the internet immediately following the election, wondering how they would process these events and rationalize their defeat. What I found shocked and disgusted me, but only made me more certain that I was documenting something that needed to be permanently recorded. In doing so, I drudged through some of the worst corners of Twitter, of Parler (RIP), and of other right-wing, "free speech" Twitter alternatives such as Gab, taking hundreds of screenshots. This is just a fraction of what I found.
Below, I've gathered these screenshots into a sort of living timeline of the state of mind of QAnon believers following the 2020 election, charting their journey from unshakeable confidence, to unhinged calls for violence, to their reaction to the Capitol riots, to the depression and rage of some members who finally came to realize that they've been believing lies for the last four years.
This is what it's like to walk among the cultists of QAnon.
The first thing to understand about QAnon in places like Parler or Gab is that these people are extremely, extremely flexible about what they're willing to believe on any given day. They latch onto new conspiracies like a magnet dragged through a pile of iron filings, grabbing hold of anything that passes close enough. It doesn't matter if the new political meme they're sharing directly contradicts the meme they posted 10 minutes earlier—somehow, they simultaneously believe both of them at once. They perceive themselves as "free thinkers" who "challenge authority" and apply scrutiny to the propaganda of the "mainstream media," but simultaneously accept unsupported sources and narratives with zero evidence. Many of their most deeply held beliefs have their roots in obviously manipulated text images on the internet. They will believe literally everything they are told, as long as it's coming from a well-known, Q-friendly figure.
As a result, the network of conspiracies and general alternate reality thinking in these circles can be utterly baffling to behold. One member believes one thing and posts about it, and everyone rapturously agrees. Another member posts the opposite the next day … and everyone rapturously agrees. The only thing that they vociferously disagree with is any suggestion that Donald Trump isn't personally anointed by Jesus Christ to save the world.
We'll start our deep dive with a brief introduction to the first prominent QAnon profile I found, and ultimately the guy that sent me down this rabbit hole: A fellow who goes by "Joe M." Before Parler met its untimely end, this was the header of his profile there. Now he mainly operates on Gab.
If the cult of QAnon was a religion, anonymous guys like Joe M would be like its high-ranking priests—I'd say it's like the College of Cardinals, but Anons believe that the Pope is either a Cabal operative or some sort of alien reptile, so they probably wouldn't appreciate the comparison. Regardless, it's the job of folks like Joe M to constantly hype up and comfort the Q crowds, who see themselves as badass "digital soldiers" who are perpetually ready for battle, but also need constant reassurance that everything is going according to "The Plan."
You want a briefing on QAnon in this guy's own words? He wrote this rambling summary right before Parler went down. Its text may seem like parody, but I assure you this is 100% real.
Those numbers at the bottom of the post are totally accurate—more than 30,000 likes and 4,000 comments, on an average post that uses the phrase "elite death cults." That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many deluded people have been consuming this type of content on Parler and elsewhere in the months following the election. Ironically, the community is exactly the sort of empty echo chamber they accuse literally every other news organization of collectively being—a collection of people who all believe the exact same thing, almost never challenge each other's thinking, and blindly accept whatever the leader says as gospel.
Given that, it creates a community where general conspiracy talk and unhinged theorizing is constantly running rampant. Here are some choice cuts.
Might as well start out with the classics. Satanic adrenochrome. QAnon uses the vague concept of "protecting the kids" or "save the children" as a shield to hide behind, knowing that it's such an innocent sounding aim that no one could reasonably disagree with it. If someone says they want to "protect children," you have to agree with that, right? The Q leadership then uses that understandable desire to radicalize right-wing readers until they believe that the entire world is filled with Satanic pedophiles and reptile people.
Hate group the Proud Boys can clearly be trusted, because
A. They like Trump, and
B. Their clothing looks like military clothing, and therefore confers all the respect that should be due to our wonderful military. This is genuinely how these people think.
QAnon believers love theories about duplicates and imposters, partially because they ascribe almost limitless power to both the evil Deep State and the "good guys" they refer to as "white hats." They believe that extremely powerful, sci-fi style technology is capable of almost anything, up to and including creating clones or duplicates of various political figures. This is very convenient for QAnon, because it allows them to claim that people such as Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden have actually been captured, arrested or killed and simply say that the person walking around in public is an imposter, clone or body double.
The screenshot above was taken after Biden tripped over his dog and required a walking boot for a few weeks. It also goes nicely with the next screenshot …
...in which we can see a SLEW of conspiracies, all at once. In order, this post references:
A. A theory that Biden is dead, and that his clone was arrested and fitted with an ankle monitor, which the walking boot is designed to hide.
B. A theory that Hillary Clinton was executed by "good guy" Trump operatives in November.
C. A theory that Sen. John McCain was also executed by the Trump administration for daring to cross Trump, which is why it says Hillary was "McCained".
D. A prediction that an upcoming social media/worldwide internet/power blackout will coincide with both "The Storm" and a giant dump of secret information from Trump that is typically referred to in short as "Declas." Any time their internet connection goes out for 10 seconds, QAnon believers become ecstatic thinking this magical moment is upon them.
Bill Clinton was also executed, turns out. The Trump admin has clearly been busy in its dying days.
You might assume that QAnon believers have only recently come to hate Mike Pence, given that it's only been a few weeks since he refused to singlehandedly overturn the election when Congress certified the Electoral College's vote. Indeed, there are few people in all of the Trump administration who have waded through more shit for Trump, or been more loyal to him, just to have him call them a "pussy."
QAnon, however, has long had a complicated relationship with Pence. Some believe him to be Trump's right-hand man in draining the swamp and fighting the Deep State. Others swore up and down that he was a Deep State mole. There's also some sort of popular theory that Pence attempted to assassinate Donald Trump himself at some point earlier in the term, aided by Chief Justice John Roberts. Thus, you have Anons like the woman above, saying that Pence needs to die. Fittingly, she thinks he should be killed by the COVID-19 vaccine, which many Q believers think is actually poisonous. Much more on that later.
Wait, did he just suggest that "patriots" were able to kill Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
I realize that the Christmas RV bombing in Nashville probably now seems like something that happened 10 years ago, but here's a group of QAnon devotees claiming that the Deep State used "lazers" and "direct energy weapons" to blow up a street in downtown Nashville on Christmas.
In addition to believing that various living people are dead, QAnon folks love theories that various dead people are in fact ALIVE. One of the most prominent is the long-running Q theory that John F. Kennedy Jr. is alive and for some reason working with Trump to take down the Deep State. Also: Apparently Princess Diana as well.
Ah, and Jeffrey Epstein is also alive, according to attorney/frothing madman Lin Wood, who represented Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and also filed numerous losing lawsuits in pursuit of overturning various results of the 2020 election. Most recently, Wood has found himself in hot water for threatening Mike Pence online, in posts that were so bad they were censored by Parler itself, if you can believe that. He also claims that John Roberts is a compromised pedophile, which is standard QAnon reasoning: Anyone who acts against Trump is "compromised" by evidence the Deep State will use against them.
Lin Wood has all sorts of lovely claims. Like this one, alleging that Hillary Clinton and the FBI conspired to murder Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Because QAnon people are committed to being as ugly as they can possibly be about any subject, they also claim that Michelle Obama is secretly a man.
Nothing to see here, just a totally earnest discussion about whether Donald J. Trump might have access to some sort of time machine, with everyone in agreement that SURE, he probably has a time machine!
If there's one united trait that all QAnon true believers must share, it's the utter inability to be dissuaded by the thought that their beliefs might be wrong. If you've ever seen The Room, you might say that they have the boundless confidence and convictions of Tommy Wiseau, totally unable to see that he was making one of the worst movies ever filmed. It doesn't matter what kind of setbacks they experience. Trump himself condemning QAnon would only make them believe in Trump and Q more strongly.
Here are some premium examples of the rampant enthusiasm you tend to see around here.
This is the sort of rhetoric that Q whisperers like Joe M use to whip up a frenzy of ecstatic enthusiasm and complete faith in Trump among the Q believers. With the bonus of also referring to the majority of the country as "luciferian child killers."
This is probably my favorite Joe M post ever, because he beautifully admits the exact fact that will ultimately lead to influencers like himself slinking off into obscurity: Although the plan for people in his position is to perpetually promise that deliverance is right around the corner and coming "soon," there are indeed certain dates that are set in stone. Or as he put it, "inauguration dates are not subjective predictions that could be wrong." Today, Joe Biden becomes President of the United States whether QAnon folks like it or not, and they now have no choice but to confront this reality. Will many respond by simply inventing a new delusion? Certainly, but we have to hope that at least some use this opportunity to emerge from the hole they're been digging.
QAnon influencers like Joe M never run out of breathless promises to keep morale high among the troops, mostly falling back on old classics like "Hillary will be arrested" or "Obama will be arrested." They have no way of explaining why the likes of Hillary or Obama weren't already arrested during Trump's first (and only) term as President, so they don't try. Like all other failed promises from Q, the date for when this will all come to pass is perpetually just over the horizon.
It's important to note that as with most cultish groups, the believers of QAnon genuinely see themselves as the heroes of this story. They somehow manage to combine beliefs like "the bad guys should be rounded up for public executions" with "we are bringing enlightenment to the masses."
I'm cracking jokes after many of these images, but most of them are also deeply sad, and reading through Parler and Gab is often a very sobering experience. Read that again: "It has completely changed my perspective on life and who I can and cannot trust." This person has been turned against their own family and friends by this radical ideology—made to fear the world around them, and likely suspect and lash out at anyone who tries to help them. This is how people end up socially isolated and exponentially radicalized until conspiracy theories become their entire life.
This was during the period of weeks where intense right-wing commentators and QAnon believers were ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the Supreme Court of the U.S. would overthrow the election and hand victory to Trump. What happened there again?
The references to "master chess" and "4D chess" on these sites are never-ending. Personally, I would be surprised if Donald Trump had ever taken the time to even learn the rules of chess. It seems much more likely that he would simply demand that all his pieces are kings, despite the fact that this wouldn't be particularly advantageous in a chess match. Then he'd accuse all his lost pieces of betraying him, flip the board over, and claim that the chess game had never taken place.
When in doubt, simply say "our victory is certain" and offer no evidence or explanation of how this is supposed to happen.
You can't be unshakably confident unless you're able to turn any kind of bad news into great news. This is where QAnon high priests like Joe M really earn their stripes—by controlling the narrative and reversing the momentum of any news that would discourage a rational person. As a result, QAnon believers often live in a sad whiplash between crushing disappointments and frequent injections of "hopium" to bring them back in line. Guys like Joe M are the pushers of this hopium, and you wouldn't believe some of the rationalizations that he and others have managed to spin since Election Day.
Turns out that every Trump defeat, whether legal or symbolic, was actually a GOOD thing.
Turns out that it's a good thing that the Supreme Court struck down Texas' attempt to object to the election laws of other states.
Turns out that it's a good thing Trump allowed Biden's administration to start the formal transition. This is good for Trump.
Turns out that it's a good thing Sidney Powell's failed "#Kraken" lawsuits were all filled with elementary spelling and formatting errors, because it was a master plan to trick the Fake News Media into covering them!
Turns out it's a good thing that all of Trump's lawsuits were defeated at the state level, because what he really wanted was to get them to the Supreme Court.
Turns out it's a good thing that electors cast their votes for Biden rather than Trump, because now they've implicated themselves and Trump can swoop in to arrest them!
Dec. 14, 2020: The electoral college votes for their states, officially electing Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.
Also Dec. 14, 2020: "It actually works in President Trump's favor."
"Man, I'm glad that our prophet Q has disappeared completely since the election; he sure did deserve a vacation. This in no way implies that he was just stringing us along this whole time."
Christianity is an important but confusing element of QAnon beliefs—often not directly connected, but constantly referenced nonetheless. Suffice it to say, the Q believers tend to fall into the evangelical Christian camp more often than not, and they believe strongly not only that Donald Trump is God's preordained, chosen savior on Earth, but that anyone who opposes Trump must be actively worshiping Satan. The Cabal, therefore, are assumed to be a full-on cult of Satanic baby eaters, and most anons are utterly convinced that every non-Trump-appointed elected official is in on this massive, worldwide conspiracy to oppose all that is good and Christian.
And when I say that everyone is in on it, I mean they think everyone is in on it. All the nation's judges. All of its clergy, if they don't preach the Book of Trump. They believe the Pope is a pedophile, or an alien, or possibly both. These beliefs all flow into their greater belief in Trump and Q, making your average QAnon post a potent combination of Christian prophecy and espionage fantasy, like a sidewalk preacher screaming about the plot of a Tom Clancy novel. Observe:
Here's Lin Wood, the guy who called for Mike Pence's death on Parler, apparently quoting that perennial classic tune "Jesus Loves Me."
Short and to the point. Biden is a demon. Everyone around him? Demons. The 81 million people who voted for him? Most likely demons.
If you think "divine hands" are voting at the ballot box for your side, I can see why you'd feel pretty good about your chances.
It's not often that you see the phrase "God is always right on time" and the hashtag #ObamaWillHang in the same post. Only on Parler, right?
If you think that your god enjoys petty drama for his own entertainment, then I submit he sounds like kind of a jerk.
My favorite Bible passage has always been "Blessed are those who pray for revenge against thine enemies," or something like that. It's definitely a real passage from the Bible—somewhere in the back, I think.
I bet you didn't think you'd read "the Pope is the Anti-Christ" and "black poop" in a post today, either.
I'm no biblical scholar, but somehow this seems like both Christian fervor and blasphemy at the same time?
You knew it would be here at some point, although the funny thing about QAnon is that the racists are sort of there as a side effect rather than a primary goal. The smarter Q influencers, like Joe M, realize that they can cast a wider net and attract more malleable minds if they claim that Trump and Q are looking to improve the world for people of all races, faiths and creeds. But by virtue of the group appealing only to Trump supporters, the racists, misogynists, xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes are inevitable. As you'll unfortunately see below.
Anti-Chinese: Check. This was the reply to a post about "Communist Chinese police."
Anti … Italians? Is anyone in the U.S. specifically prejudiced against Italians? Apparently QAnon believers are.
Like Trump, QAnon people love to give all of their enemies derogatory nicknames and then repeat them endlessly. None have more of a weird racial energy (and are more of a creative stretch) than calling Kamala Harris "Camel Hairass," though.
Oh lordie. You just know that the QAnon believers must have some interesting thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 23 million and killed more than 400,000 people in the U.S. Bet you can't wait to know what they have to say on this particular subject.
Interesting outcome, though: This is one of a handful of topics that totally divides the Q-sphere, mostly because Q himself never really seemed to commit to a specific opinion about COVID-19. This has left QAnon cultists particularly unsure of how they're supposed to characterize the coronavirus. Should they play off the whole thing as a hoax? Or claim that the virus really isn't dangerous? Or should they go the opposite direction, and claim that the virus is a bio-weapon devised by Bill Gates and the Deep State to eradicate Christians and conservatives in order to hasten the New World Order? Because somehow, QAnon people manage to espouse all of these opinions on COVID-19 at the same time. Their ability to argue for one point of view, and then another minutes later, is breathtaking.
The Q community is equally divided and confused about COVID-19 vaccines, simply for the fact that their glorious leader Donald Trump is encouraging people to receive the vaccines. They'd like to believe that the COVID vaccine is yet another Deep State plot, but they can't rationalize why Trump would be telling American citizens to receive it if this was the case. They can't fathom the idea that he just wants credit for a good thing, because they always believe that Trump is playing 4D chess. As a result, anything related to COVID is ultimately a source of massive cognitive dissonance for QAnon people, as you'll see below.
Okay, so the pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans is FAKE. This is our baseline: The pandemic does not exist.
Wait, never mind—the pandemic is real, and the Deep State concocted it to "devastate our elders." Someone has to stop them!
False alarm, never mind again—the pandemic is fake, and it's really a test designed to point us back toward God. Also, Biden will die.
WAIT! The pandemic is real again, and now it's a bio-weapon funded by Dr. Fauci! Everyone to battle stations!
In one area, at least, all Q people can agree: Masks are stupid, and trying to protect the lives of other people is also stupid.
Being asked the wear a mask is the same thing as being put to death in a GAS CHAMBER. You heard it from this person's mouth.
I think we can all agree that whether or not the pandemic itself is real, the vaccine was clearly "designed by a eugenicist to knock down the world population by a few hundred million." It's extremely deadly … but the first doses didn't kill anyone, so it must not take effect until the second or third dose. That's just logic, right there.
I can't help but laugh every time I see this stunningly stupid meme. Beyond the obvious Islamophobia, I can't get over how incredibly irrelevant it truly is. Wearing a mask to save the lives of others during a global pandemic … is a slippery slope that leads to mandatory hijabs for women and the spread of Islam. It's a leap of logic so preposterously stupid that it boggles the mind.
One of the defining aspects of Donald Trump as a human being is his habit of heaping praise and adulation on those who follow his orders, only to throw those same people under the bus weeks later by calling them disloyal idiots as soon as they object to his stupidity. It's why we measure time in Donald's service in "Mooches," with each amount of time equal to 11 days, the amount of time that Anthony Scaramucci lasted as the White House Communications Director. Trump has never had an underling he wasn't ready to sacrifice at a moment's notice, but somehow expects his terrible hiring to never reflect poorly upon him.
Taking his lead, QAnon influencers offer up ecstatic, over-the-moon worship of all the random yes men in Trump's orbit, portraying them as unstoppable warriors and badasses who will help to usher in the coming of The Storm. At least, that's how they treat these people when they're first hired. As soon as they "betray" Trump, the Q influencers then sling venom at them and claim they've all been Deep State agents all along.
This process plays out over, and over, and over again. Everyone "betrays Trump" eventually, but it never dulls the enthusiasm of the Q people for the latest "badass." These people manage to see patterns in every aspect of daily life, mostly where they don't exist, but they're completely blind to the pattern that everyone they praise, they eventually condemn. Observe:
First, here's what it looks like when someone new joins Team Trump.
Richard Donoghue is the acting United States Deputy Attorney General. He's been in the role since late December, and will ultimately have the job for less than a month. But in Q world, that must mean HE'S AN UNSTOPPABLE TERMINATOR WHO WILL DESTROY THE DEEP STATE! Seriously, how embarrassing is this?
And now, here's what happens when all the people and entities who were formerly praised run afoul of Trump.
Bill Barr is Deep State. Also: If he does turn out to be "best AG ever," does that preclude him from also being fat?
Pence has been Deep State since day one. An impressive accomplishment by Mike Pence, MASTER SABOTEUR.
Chief Justice John Roberts is Deep State.
Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, both of whom were Trump's OWN CHOICES, and both of whom were opposed by Congressional Democrats and the liberal media, are somehow also both Deep State. This is extra hilarious to me for the fact that it implies such convoluted power to control the world from behind the scenes that it directly undermines the QAnon belief that Trump is somehow the one playing 4D chess. If the Deep State can trick Trump into picking liberal moles as Supreme Court Justices, then how stupid does this imply Trump to be?
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp—a man whose entire campaign was based around how much he loved Trump—is also Deep State. A classic example of Trump turning against one of his most loyal servants.
Rush Limbaugh, who has been hosting an intensely right-wing radio show for more than 30 years, is also Deep State.
Somehow both Parler and Newsmax, the most friendly places on the entire internet for QAnon, are ALSO Deep State.
They say there's no way to deter blackmail quite like actively threatening those same people with blackmail.
Like many among the alt-right, QAnon believers tend to worship at the altar of the American military. Part of it is an elaborate fantasy—a lot of these guys in particular like to imagine that they are basically soldiers, with all the machismo they believe that confers. Many believe that because they own some guns, they're fully trained for combat and would be capable of participating in a glorious second American revolution. As such, they see themselves as badasses in waiting, ready to spring into action as soon as they get the summons from Trump to "take back America" or somesuch. And they assume that they'll be fighting alongside the U.S. military when they do.
The fact that the military is subservient to U.S. law doesn't really register with QAnon believers. Many of them view the armed forces as a personal Gestapo for Trump, and believe this is a good thing. They see the military as the proverbial Trump card—the thing that Trump would call on after he exhausts all his legislative and legal wrangling to reverse the results of the 2020 election.
As such, places like Parler and Gab are absolutely awash with the assumption that martial law will eventually be declared, and the U.S. military will spring into action to round up all those evil liberals and members of the Deep State. Observe:
When the lawsuit is filed: "This is the one that will overturn the fake election."
When the lawsuit is thrown out: "The lawsuit was never part of the plan; it was always going to be military overthrow of the fake Biden administration."
Most people, when they refer to an impending Civil War in America, do so with an air of horror and tragedy. Not QAnon folks—they're looking forward to it!
Why would they be looking forward to a Civil War? Because apparently Q promised them "we will be safe during it," according to this dude. They're pleased that only the proper people would be dying.
QAnon believers are not acquainted with the concept of subtlety. In their fantasies, every action is as blunt and direct as it possibly can be. Thus, they salivate over things like live TV interrogations and torture. This is what they go to bed at night praying for.
No one has more reverence for the Constitution, but less understanding of how the Constitution could possibly be applied, than QAnon die hards.
With brilliant ideas like this, I'm actually sort of surprised Joe M isn't already working for the Trump administration. He'd last at least a couple of Mooches.
Oh god, the SPACE FORCE has been activated, folks! Game over, man! Game over!
Finally, we come to it. I've spent a lot of time joking throughout this tour of the worst that Parler and Gab have to offer, but this is where defensive humor understandably fails you. It's worth noting that almost all of these posts came before the siege on the U.S. Capitol that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, and some of these posts directly involve QAnon believers threatening or hoping for such a scenario. This is the kind of bluntly violent talk that happens in QAnon communities every single day, which many dismissed as simply power fantasy and LARPing before Jan. 6. We now know that these people are all too willing to bring those fantasies to life.
These QAnon believers? They want to see people die. They want to see a lot of people die. Many of them are hoping and praying for violence and civil war in the streets. Many want to see live, televised executions of Deep State traitors. Some don't want to get their own hands dirty, but many morbidly fantasize at being able to kill people with their own guns. A lot of these people don't even look at deaths as a "necessary evil" to their eventual aims—they see it as a glorious reward for their faith in The Plan.
I'm telling you: They WANT to kill people. I could show you dozens and dozens of posts I've screenshotted to that effect, but this group will have to do.
Kyle Rittenhouse traveled across state lines, to a place he didn't live, with an illegal weapon, so he could ultimately shoot three protesters, killing two. He faces multiple felony homicide charges. QAnon believers naturally idolize him and fantasize that one day they too could take the lives of other Americans.
Disturbing image? Definitely, but prior to the Jan. 6 riots it probably would have been dismissed as overheated rhetoric. And then Trump supporters wearing QAnon symbols went and literally built a gallows outside the Capitol before they stormed it.
Once again, this was written before the Capitol riots. For all we know, this guy was literally one of the people who stormed the Senate chambers that day. At the very least, you can say that he sure as hell would have wanted to be there.
QAnon believers love to discuss their favorite methods of violent execution.
Imagine thinking that you're one of the "good guys," while also really wanting to watch people executed by firing squads.
Barack Obama always lands near the top of the "who would they kill first if they had the chance" discussions. Be thankful for the personal security he'll likely retain for the rest of his life, because of these people.
Can you even imagine how disturbing the internet search history must be of the QAnon guy who posts on social media about wanting to see liberals "lose their bowels" while being executed? This is just a psychopath who has wrapped himself in whatever ideology he hopes will eventually lead to the violence he desperately craves.
In case you're wondering if these people actually see themselves as waiting for Trump's command to start shooting, here's a guy literally saying that if Trump told him to go take out Biden, he would.
The idea of a QAnon guy building a "home guillotinein" in his backyard would be morbidly hilarious, if this guy wasn't totally serious. Although really, you have to assume that if you can't spell "guillotine," you're probably most likely to maim or kill yourself while trying to build one.
A bunch of class acts talking about shooting the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Even some of the most evil ideologies that ever existed on Earth at least pretended that they didn't delight in killing people. These Q folks, on the other hand, demand DVD box sets of executions so they can watch them on loop.
"Self defense of course," wink wink, nudge nudge.
If you're surprised that none of these people so far has simply suggested going straight for Biden, consider that streak broken. Good old Parler, where people can straight-up, personally threaten the life of the President of the United States and be cheered for it.
This is one of my favorites. Senior citizen Anon says "Sorry guys, I'm too old to actively participate in killing people," only to be met with "You pussy, I'm 75 and ready to kill EVERYONE!" They literally shamed him for not wanting to personally shoot people, and merely assist with the shooting.
Imagine, a social media company banning someone JUST for saying that a CNN reporter should be executed. The nerve of these Twitter execs!
I don't mean to entirely and single-mindedly demonize the people here who fell victim to the lure of Qanon conspiracy theories. Although the individuals in the section above are frightening, deranged and in many cases likely sociopathic souls, there are also many hardcore Q believers who have simply fallen into a delusional mindset because they likely had no protection against it.
It's no secret that many Q believers are older Americans, and many of them seem to be people who have only in the last few years gained a working knowledge of the internet. Suffice to say, a lot of them seem to be people who had no understanding of how to distinguish fact from fiction on the web, and weren't raised online, knowing the sophistication of the web's endless array of scammers, phishers and BS artists. They're just people who felt powerless in their life, or had been made to feel stupid by our technocratic society. QAnon offers them an outlet to feel powerful, because they see themselves as part of a righteous underground club that has access to secret truths. It lets them feel like they're in the driver's seat, which is why QAnon has so many catchphrases to reinforce this, like "Patriots are in control."
Heartbreakingly, this manifests itself among Q believers via paranoia about the outside world, distrust of culture and education, and the crumbling of families that are torn apart by rampant conspiracy theory beliefs. And when browsing through Parler and Gab, you often get a taste of these sad stories of how QAnon has wrecked lives, even though the people posting can't see it. You can read more of these heartbreaking stories at the subreddit r/QAnonCasualties, which exists specifically for people to tell stories of losing family members, and what they've tried to do to get them back.
I would say "I wish this guy's friends and family knew what he was posting online," but if they tried to confront him about his beliefs that his closest friends were Deep State, it would only convince him further that they were Deep State. It's hard to see how anything short of therapy would help a person emerge from this sort of delusion, particularly when they have an entire community with thousands of other people telling them "yes, your family are Deep State." This is how you lose family members for good.
The other thing to keep in mind: The motivating factor for many Anons isn't malice, or a desire to dominate or control others. For many, it's simply fear. This person legitimately thinks that the left is going to "activate" Antifa and Black Lives Matter to come kill everyone who doesn't vote Democratic. And if you were indoctrinated enough to believe that was going to happen, you'd probably be terrified too.
Almost an identical scenario to the previous post. This guy thinks that with Biden in power, one day there's just going to be a knock on the door and the secret police will show up to whisk him away … despite the fact that it was Trump using those exact tactics in cities like Portland this summer, when unidentifiable federal agents were disappearing people off the street. Regardless, here's this guy sharing his plan to "flee his state" while he can. Do you ever wonder about the state of mind of people who live in shacks in the woods, "off the grid"? Because it probably looks a lot like this.
Here, we see some folks casually telling a guy to divorce his wife because she doesn't believe in a Satanic, child-eating sex cult.
Imagine that you genuinely believe that by the time Inauguration Day arrives, we'll be in the middle of an apocalyptic land war with China. Which you spell "Chyna." How would you be living your life if you thought such a war was about to start within days?
Undeniable "armed standoff with police" energy on this one.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol, subsequent insurrection and the national shock and horror at what was transpiring, represented another extremely divisive moment for the QAnon faithful. You might think that they would all just be celebrating and jumping for joy, especially considering that many of the people breaking into the Capitol were plastered in QAnon symbols from head to toe, but many Q influencers couldn't decide at all how they were supposed to spin this particular story. With almost the whole country united in condemning these events, the more savvy Q influencers were realizing that they didn't want to appear on the wrong side of history. Seeing your own side in the Capitol, yelling "We're coming for you Nancy!" has some bad optics.
The result was total chaos, as far as trying to present a coherent message is concerned. Immediately as the riots began, some Q believers and influencers began celebrating the "patriots" taking back the Capitol. At the same time, others began the inevitable claims that it WASN'T Anons doing this thing, but actually those dastards from Antifa trying to make Anons look bad … despite the fact that Parler and Gab are literally filled with QAnon accounts that had for weeks been fantasizing about storming the Capitol. It quickly became an ideological tug of rope for these influencers—they desperately want to take credit for the "show of strength" that QAnon believers felt as they sacked the building and beat police officers, but they simultaneously didn't want any of the negative connotations associated with doing those same things.
The exact same tug of war played out with every aspect of the siege. QAnon believer Ashli Babbitt, for instance, the woman shot and killed by Capitol Police as she attempted to break into the chamber of the House of Representatives, was denounced as an Antifa imposter, then called a "crisis actor" who wasn't really dead, and then finally lionized as a right-wing saint. The alt-right seems to have now settled on her status as a martyr, given that it's impossible to pretend she wasn't a Trump supporter, but it's indicative of the way that Q thinking will turn against anyone and anything it sees as undesirable.
Here's an attempt at showing how QAnon tried to process the Capitol Riots, as they happened and in their aftermath.
Just for a baseline, let's start here. The hashtag #WWG1WGA stands for "where we go one, we go all," yet another QAnon catchphrase. So we're taking credit for the Capitol riots to start off with. The riots are QAnon displaying its power! Surely there won't be any flip-flopping.
No wait, now Joe says that Democrats "staged the siege" he wanted to previously take credit for. What changed, Joe?
"This is known. Facts. Sentence fragments."
Adorable to see a QAnon believer claiming "we don't act this way," isn't it? He's saying that in the replies of the same account where most of the death threats earlier in this post were screenshotted. Reading this account, he would literally see calls for violence every single day, but as soon as it happens he claims "we don't act this way."
This is how stupid the logic is here: QAnon people think that Capitol rioters who had their hats backward are secretly Antifa, and that "backward hat" is a code to help them identify each other.
Let's see … who else wore their hat backward? Oh yeah: QAnon hero Kyle Rittenhouse, that night when he shot three people.
Here's someone suggesting that Ashli Babbitt is actually alive, and presumably part of some kind of conspiracy.
Here's good old Lin Wood, knowing he should say something about Ashli Babbitt but not sure if the winning move is to praise or demonize her just yet.
Here's one Anon trying to canonize Babbitt, while another replies suggesting that the shooting didn't actually happen. This really captures the ideological stream-of-consciousness chaos of Parler and Gab when there's no one to set the central narrative—Anons running wild, fighting with each other because no one has instructed them on what to believe.
No wait, turns out it WASN'T Antifa ransacking the Capitol, it was actually the Good Guys in disguise (the "white hats") because they needed a distraction to swipe all the Deep State laptops, which … somehow leads to Trump remaining President!
I saw this particularly zany theory flying all over on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7—that Trump was actually in Texas during the whole insurrection, and that the person who addressed the crowd in D.C. wasn't Trump, but instead some kind of hologram or actor in disguise. This is a good one even by QAnon standards.
In the days after the insurrection, Trump finally conceded via video, but because he didn't use the actual word "concede," QAnon believers saw that as an invitation to assume that Trump would still remain in power. They're so desperate at this point that they'll grasp at anything vaguely straw shaped.
After Mike Pence and the Congressional GOP failed to overturn the election on Jan. 6, it was time to move the goalposts for the 700th time. Subsequently, the narrative became "they needed to COMPLETE the act of treason, so Trump is able to act." Etc.
I'd just like to point out that Lin Wood is an actual, practicing, professional lawyer who actual clients CHOOSE to hire for their actual court cases. It does make you question the sanity of those who would hire THIS person to represent them.
With so many setbacks, and so many embarrassments to Trump's administration and his efforts to reverse the election or undermine democracy, it's inevitable that eventually some of the QAnon faithful would have their faith sorely tested. Some have responded to this with anger and paranoia, lashing out at what they perceive as a world that continues to betray them and betray Trump.
Others have simply taken on more of a tone of ennui, or have become disillusioned with the political system. Many of these people seem to be voters who didn't previously participate in the U.S. political system at all, perhaps thinking it had always been "rigged," and one gets the sense that this disillusionment following Trump's defeat might keep them from participating in the future.
The QAnon faithful respond to these doubters in the two ways they know how: By insisting that they should "Trust The Plan," and by deriding them if they still have doubts. Everyone else either rationalizes desperately or flirts with self-awareness about the QAnon delusions that have consumed them. In the end, this disillusionment is probably a long-term positive, as it suggests some of the QAnon believers may indeed emerge from this dark corner of the internet and get help from friends, family or counselors.
We can only hope that the result is that they start listening to the friends and family trying to pull them back to reality. Although it is discouraging that some Anons come to the conclusion that "Q was a LARP," but simultaneously still believe that things like the Deep State exist. One would hope that enlightenment in one area would lead to the realization that maybe the world isn't being run by a Satanic cabal.
NO MORE EMPTY ASSURANCES!
My heart genuinely goes out to people like this whose lives have been thrown into chaos by QAnon and conspiracy theories in general. Even he is aware that it's negatively affecting his physical and mental health—if only he could realize that walking away from all the misinformation is an option.
Rest assured, there's a lot of Hail Mary prayers going out right now, looking for divine intervention to save Trump.
This is how Q influencers like Joe M respond to the doubters in the QAnon ranks—like a sergeant screaming at quavering troops to get back into the trenches. Eventually, those troops are just going to abandon you.
The mistake here is in characterizing the Q delusion as "convincing" in the first place. Almost all the people who were convinced by it were the people who were really, really, really desperate to be convinced by it. This illusion consisted of hundreds of prophecies that never came true, claims that couldn't stand up to the briefest moment of scrutiny, and religious fervor disguised as patriotism. There was never anything convincing about it.
"You're telling me that the Pope wasn't arrested after all? I'm starting to think that maybe this whole thing might be ridiculous!"
Anon #1: "Why are they moving Trump's stuff out of the White House?!? This looks bad."
Anon #2: "Maybe they're all just empty boxes! Yeah, that's the ticket!"
I can't wait to watch Joe M disappear from the internet to avoid living up to this particular promise.
I absolutely cannot argue with the logic of this guy.
Make no mistake, the people brave enough to publicly question Q and Trump in settings like Parler and Gab are few and far between, and you really can't blame them—they're simply exposing themselves to ridicule and retaliation by doing so. As Trump's various challenges fell apart, and the writing was increasingly on the wall, you did start to see an undercurrent of people speaking out against Q—mostly former supporters who now feel jaded and lied to. We can only hope that many more have simply melted away from the movement, and come up for a breath of fresh air.
Also very unsurprising: Many prominent Q influencers and prophets have gone silent in the last few weeks. Some have disappeared from the web, realizing that they'd have to face the people they've been whipping up into a frenzy for the last four years, and either admit that they were wrong or that they were lying. Others have soldiered on, trying to counter the dissenters by claiming that NO MATTER WHAT, Biden would not be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021.
What you're watching here is QAnon undergoing a total crisis of faith.
A few weeks out from Inauguration Day, and Joe M is still in the trenches, defiantly telling people that it's PART OF THE PLAN that Biden appear to be the victor.
There's no shortage of people like this, promising to swear off voting entirely. That will likely be one of Trump's most lasting contributions—convincing millions of Americans never to vote, because they think the system is forever rigged.
And then there's the people who have jumped to the conclusion that Q himself and QAnon were all a "psyop" pulled on patriotic Americans in order to keep them from flooding the streets with guns in hand like they WOULD have done otherwise.
"All I got from this 'think for yourself' movement was hate." That might be the most powerful, self aware summary of QAnon I've read to date. Put that on a tee shirt and start distributing it to Anons everywhere.
Express any kind of doubt? Get called a "dipshit" and "fake patriot" by your loving comrades. What a welcoming community.
Now you're getting it, man!
Calling Lin Wood "all crumbs, no cookie" is an extremely charitable way of saying he's full of shit.
Responding to "Trump gave up. Truth hurts." with "I don't like quitters" is deliciously reminiscent of Trump himself saying "I like people who weren't captured" in reference to war hero John McCain, is it not?
You have to worry about the abject despair that so many people like this are experiencing right now. For a lot of these folks, today is the very worst day of their lives.
And of course, lest you believe that QAnon was ever going away entirely, this guy reminds you that some large portion of the Q believers will just find a new way to keep believing even after Inauguration Day. Even though it's currently been more than 40 days since Q posted anything, beliefs like this always persist for some. For the good of our country, we can only hope that they're markedly reduced.
FINALLY. After literally years of producing misinformation and propaganda; years of deluding vulnerable Americans and leading them down the QAnon rabbit hole; years of building his own follower count as a Q influencer, Joe M lays the foundation for what will presumably be his ignoble retreat from the internet. This was posted four days ago, and our friend Joe hasn't spoken to his 200,000 Gab followers since. I can't overstate what a profound effect this sort of thing has on dismantling the Q delusion—guys like Joe M are the trusted generals who rally support and have comforted Q followers through every disappointment. But the smart ones (like Joe) also know that the people they wield this influence over will turn on anyone they think has betrayed them, and he can't stand to watch the inauguration of Biden while knowing that hundreds of thousands of people will blame HIM for their disappointment. It's get out, or become the target of the same mob he worked to build.
I don't think Joe M will be back. The shame and fear of reprisal will likely be entirely too much. Other Q influencers will try to rise to take the place of guys like this, but it's going to be a hard fight for them to gain the same numbers of followers. The inauguration of Biden today slams the book shut on a chapter of QAnon's existence.
Truly, the above image is the perfect exclamation point at the end of this period of insanity—a liar in retreat, going into hiding.
Q followers took the news of Joe M's "going dark" quite well, I'd say. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
I have nothing left to say, when it comes to the havoc that QAnon has wreaked on our society. No further points to make, which the 100-some odd images in this post haven't made for me already. I just needed one final section to include some of the most inexplicable, bizarre and ludicrous things I found while spending a few months on Parler and Gab. None of these things have much to do with the topic at hand; I just couldn't help myself but screenshot them for their sheer inanity.
This is my all-time favorite QAnon post. This person thinks the moon has disappeared. I don't know why they think this, or what they think it means that the moon is apparently missing. I don't know why they're apparently totally unfamiliar with the lunar cycle and the concept of a new moon. I presume that they believe the Deep State is involved in some way, perhaps with a nefarious plot to steal our moonshine and disrupt our tides. All I know is that this person thinks the moon has disappeared.
A carefully measured and worded comment on Catholicism from Joe M, courtesy of the same people who claimed that opposing the seating of Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court was "anti-Catholic."
I have never seen an extended, religious toilet metaphor, complete with poop references, until now.
This is like a masterclass in abnormal psychology, condensed into the space of a single post. The entire thing is one run-on sentence. It's devoid of any punctuation. It ends with the protagonist trying to stop an elderly man from receiving a flu shot, and being accosted by a pharmacist. Reading this post is the very essence of surfing Parler and Gab in 2020/2021.
If you leave this long, long post with only one phrase burned into your brain forever, let it be the nonsense of "decalcified pineal gland." Somehow, that just feels right to me.
And with that, I'm done. The 2020 election is behind us, and scores of QAnon believers are just now waking up to that fact. This is a momentous day that sees the end of a frightening, destabilizing chapter in American history and hopefully the dawn of one where we can restore some small amount of our tarnished dignity. Trump is gone, a shell of his former self with dreams of starting a "Patriot Party" that QAnon faithful will no doubt flock to. Many others will no doubt be disillusioned that Q's grandest promise once again failed.
If you know one of those people, I'd urge you that this is a rare moment when they may actually be open to your compassion, empathy and assistance. If those who fell victim to QAnon ideology are going to find their way back to rationality, it will no doubt be with our help. If you get the chance to give that aid, please give it. Together, perhaps we can aid in dismantling this delusion for good.
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