How former conspirators broke free from QAnon

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Brigitte Noël (access the author's page)

The future of QAnon – a conspiratorial movement that idolizes the US president – seems uncertain now that it is in fact a given that Donald Trump will no longer be head of the United States after January 20.

Q, who is at the heart of this conspiracy, had almost promised Donald Trump's victory, but the presidential results illustrate the failure of this prediction.

For more than a week after polling day, Q has disappeared from the web. He only resurfaced on November 13, a few days after the victory had been handed to Joe Biden, with cryptic phrases meant to be reassuring. It had to be so, he wrote on the anonymous 8kun forum. Sometimes you have to go through the darkness before you see the light.

Those who are convinced have interpreted a new rallying cry, a call to redouble their efforts to fight the elite on behalf of Trump. But for others, it was the start of a rude awakening. QAnon, who has been making false promises for more than three years, had given them one disappointment too many.

We were fooled by this story of Q, wrote an internet user a few days after the election.

A tweet from a user.Enlarge the imageIn addition to this, you will need to know more about it. (New window)In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.

Translation of this tweet: So are you ready to give up and admit that it is now Venezuela? We were fooled by this “Q” case.

Photo: Twitter

The alarm

QAnon is now an international movement that has evolved far beyond Donald Trump and the writings of the famous Q. Hundreds of thousands of people feel challenged by this belief system which, in addition to the stories of cannibalistic celebrities and satanist politicians, speaks of giving power back to the people.

Although many will continue to embed themselves in these conspiratorial beliefs, radicalization experts predict that certain factors – notably, the inauguration of Joe Biden and the possible end of the pandemic – will lead to the phenomenon running out of steam.

Qonspirations: How a mega-conspiracy takes root in Quebec

A small exodus has already started. On the Reddit website, a few ex-followers share why they've turned their backs on the movement.

One of these forums is moderated by Jitarth Jadeja, a 32-year-old Australian who for two years has been completely obsessed with QAnon. Through Reddit, he now participates in a support network for survivors of this movement that almost ruined his life.

I woke up in the morning and checked to see if Q had posted any new messages. After that, I would go to any forum, Reddit or 8chan, to talk about the latest Q-drops.

Jitarth Jadeja

At the height of his obsession, Jitarth Jadeja estimated that he was spending 80% of his waking hours on QAnon. You are in front of your computer all day, you sleep badly, you never leave the house, you eat badly, he lists.

While one might think that the majority of QAnon followers come together out of love for Donald Trump, it was his support for Bernie Sanders that led Jitarth Jadeja to the movement. The leftist candidate's defeat in the 2016 US Democratic primaries led him to suspect that US politics – and the mass media – were controlled by dark forces.

In search of an alternative medium that supported this thesis, Jitarth came across the YouTube channel of famous American conspiratorialist Alex Jones, who introduced him to QAnon. That day, he hosted two guests on the show who spoke of someone close to the Trump administration whom they called Q, he recalls. The obsession was on.

Jitarth Jadeja holds her baby in her arms.

Jitarth Jadeja, a 32 year old Australian, spent 2 years in the grip of QAnon's theories.

Photo: Courtesy of Jitarth Jadeja

It was also on YouTube that Antoine Fortin, a 25-year-old Montrealer, learned of the phenomenon. This summer, he spent two months plummeting into what is often called the rabbit hole.

I'm someone who likes to get to the bottom of things in life, he says. In the COVID situation, I was incapable, trying to find answers, but there were none.

It was the platform's algorithm that gave it its introduction, a video entitled QAnon: the storm. The discussion was co-hosted by Quebec conspiratorialist Alexis Cossette-Trudel, polemicist Stu Pitt and a QAnon blogger named Daniel Latulippe, who among other things talked about the fact that the pandemic had been exaggerated to prevent Trump's re-election.

<q data-attributes = '{"lang": {"value": "fr", "label": "Français"}, "value": {"html": "It was reassuring, in the sense that even if what they offer is even more freaking (than reality), you feel like you have a different view, he says. By dint of digging to understand the ramifications of this movement, I got surrounded by their nonsense. "," Text ":" It was reassuring, in the sense that even if what they propose is even more freaking (than reality), you have the impression of having a different vision, he says. By dint of digging to understand the ramifications of this movement, I got surrounded by their nonsense. "}} 'Lang =" fr”>It was reassuring, in the sense that even if what they offer is even more freaking (than reality), you feel like you have a different view, he says. By dint of digging to understand the ramifications of this movement, I got surrounded by their nonsense.

But his new beliefs were not unanimous among those close to him. It gets really unhealthy, you start to doubt and have speeches that your friends say: "Slack YouTube a bit there, it's okay that you get information, but it looks like you're going off the rails a bit.

Jitarth Jadeja says he alienated his entire network. I was agitated, angry, and when I walked into a room, the tension built, he recalls. Everyone hated it. His only ally was his father, whom he managed to convert to the movement. The latter remains firmly anchored in his conspiracy beliefs, to the chagrin of his son.

The guilt I feel about the fact that my father is still in there, and that I was the one who recruited him, I think I am evil.

Understand the QAnon movement to better talk to those close to them

Deprogramming

It was a humorous podcast called Le Spachoir, which pokes fun at the conspirators, that caused Antoine to snap out of QAnon. They exposed the shenanigans in an honest and direct manner, he explains. I realized that a lot of the people who I thought had a truth, were actually people who were contradicting themselves, who made a lot of money.

Antoine Fortin said he was relieved not to have soaked only mid-thigh in the QAnon universe, which he now considers a cult. I have a feeling that if I had continued, you could question everything and fall into patterns and ramifications that go into much more dangerous and extreme subjects.

Antoine Fortin wears glasses and a hat.

Antoine Fortin spent two months this summer immersing himself in QAnon. He now wants to raise awareness among the public: “Anyone can be surrounded. "

Photo: Don Ramsey

Rather, Jitarth Jadeja speaks of a gradual deprogramming, catalyzed by the inconsistencies and falsehoods he had begun to see in QAnon's words. Now freed from his conspiratorial tendencies, he says he is hyperconscious of the slippages that the movement can bring.

Followers of QAnon believe they are participating in the battle of good against evil, he explains. They think they are facing bad guys who drink the blood of children, who want to kill their families. When you believe in such things, you want your enemies to burn.

He no longer recognizes who he was during this conspiratorial phase. I didn't know I was capable of such dark thoughts.

Fragmented but dangerous

Despite the defeat of Donald Trump, the extreme passions aroused by QAnon will continue to fuel the most convinced, believes David Morin, co-holder of the UNESCO chair in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism. Some of the people at QAnon might be demotivated, he says. On the other hand, we could also witness the radicalization of a minority of people within the movement which will consider that they are entering into resistance against the deep state.

While he does not believe that the followers of QAnon are going to organize a structured call for violence, he fears that some more radical elements will feel pressured to commit dangerous acts.

In the United States, nearly a dozen violent events, including two murders, are believed to be linked to the movement. In post-election Philadelphia, two gunmen arrested for allegedly attempting to attack a polling station were behind the wheel of a truck adorned with QAnon stickers.

David Morin

David Morin

Photo: Radio-Canada

Once these people have cut all ties and social dialogue and find themselves in a bubble, we continue to feed them, and there, in a context where we have generalized anxiety and chronic stress because of the COVID, this kind of speech acts as fuel for acting out, explains David Morin.

Jitarth Jadeja adds that in several cases, QAnon followers abuse themselves, either by isolating themselves from loved ones or by refusing to see a doctor. He says the shock of his own de-radicalization was such that, without the support of his family, he would surely have committed suicide. Imagine, you spend years promoting these ideas, he says. My world fell apart when I realized I had been manipulated.

Relatives of QAnon followers talk to Family Breakup Inquiry

In a context where tens of thousands of Quebecers now adhere to a form of theory linked to QAnon, David Morin warns that an intervention plan will be necessary. We need a comprehensive strategy in Quebec to deal with this situation, because it will not improve. We will live with the effects of the pandemic on the psyche of our citizens for months and years to come.

Antoine Fortin emphasizes the importance of education. We underestimate our power to use the Internet, he says. I don't feel like we are really able as a society to understand the impact that the web, applications, interconnectivity can have.

Need help for you or a loved one?

Info-CultIn addition to this, you will need to know more about it. (New window)In addition to this, you will need to know more about it. : infosecte@qc.aibn.com
514 274-2333

Center for the prevention of radicalization leading to violenceIn addition to this, you will need to know more about it. (New window)In addition to this, you will need to know more about it. : info@info-radical.org
514 687-7141 # 116 or 1 877 687-7141 # 116

The report by Brigitte Noël and Emmanuel Marchand is presented at Investigation Thursday at 9 p.m. at ICI Télé and on Saturday at 1 p.m. At ICI RDI, it will be Sunday at 6:30 p.m.


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