Earlier this week I decided to write an oped for The Guardian about a phenomenon plaguing many of us – how people we know, mostly “loose” friends from Facebook who, more often than not, are wellness warriors or spiritual types, have suddenly bought into QAnon-inspired conspiracy theories.
I wrote the piece because I was really upset by what I was witnessing, seemingly overnight. And by the way many of us were defaulting to the standard neo-liberal way of responding to difference, that is, descending into right v wrong combative diatribe. These “loose friends” were not bots. They are not mad. They are not idiots. Something bigger and more important was going on. I felt that understanding was required as a first step, and that understanding and compassion would then steer things to a solution.
The link to the oped is here.
I didn’t have enough word-length to cover off everything in the article, so I thought I’d provide a few more links and resources here…for anyone wanting to navigate and steer things with more helpful compassion and understanding.
Using your best attempts at mindful care, you might also want to send this to your friends who found themselves tumbling down the dark rabbit hole…
Extra conspiritualist resources and ideas
In no particular order…
As a starting point, a simple rundown of QAnon.
Much of what is happening can be explained by Youtube algorithms. Once you watch a video about, say, Covid-19 vaccine developments, the algorthisms will then steer you, whether you like it or not, down a rabbit hole that is largely being controlled by the alt-right. The New York Times podcast series Rabbit Hole explains this in full. So does the Netflix series The Social Dilemma.
This New Yorker piece is great context – comparing what’s happening with similiar conspiracy theories in Japan and how the 4Chan element came into play.
I’d also add that I think the Melbourne lockdown was the trigger for the phenomenon to take off here recently. The fear, the uncertainty…a few people went down the rabbit hole and the information spread exponentially from there.
And, of course, I cover off a lot of the reasons why we are being overwhelmed and thus buying into “fake news” in This One Wild and Precious Life. (I also cover off how to get more resilient to truth etc).
We also need to be aware that Instagram influencers are being targeted to spread these messages. (Although I will also add, the bulk of “conspiritualists” don’t actually post on their feeds but instead chime in on the threads belonging to QAnon and Trump fans like Pete Evans or people like myself who rail against such politics. It has been suggested they do not want to lost any sponsorship or influencer fees by being too “controversial”).
For the best 4 ways to talk to someone who has got trapped down this QAnon rabbit hole, this link is great.
If you want to understand the cognitive biases behind why people believe in conspiracy theories this link is a good overview.
WIRED magazine pleads with us to not mock or laugh at anyone who has been lured in.
This is the Mother Jones article where I get a better feel for why the child sex trafficking conspiracy has taken off here and in the US. In my oped I refer to the fact these theories have been around for a while, ditto the tunnels stuff. Read more historical context here.
Many cite the documentary Plandemic as their source for their belief coronavirus is a hoax. This article explains how and why the documentary is the hoax. As I explain in the oped, Science magazine has systematically disproved most of its claims.
You might also be sent the Out of the Shadows (another Youtube “documentary”). Read this if you do.
The good news…
In the past few days, wellness leaders around the world have united to denounce QAnon and to speak out on what is happening in the realm.
Many have been sharing this tile:
And evangelical churches are doing the same. This is super responsible. Bravo!
As a final word…
If you decide to share this, or to engage in further comments (if you’re reading this on Facebook), please try to engage compassionate understanding. And perhaps read the links I provide to suggested techniques for discussing this issue. Thanks!