An anonymous person named “Q” spread conspiracies on 4chan, a site that hosts forums dedicated to a variety of topics, on how there were satanic pedophiles in the Democratic Party on Oct. 27, 2017. “Q” claimed that former President Donald Trump would bring them to justice in order to create a bigger following for him, which resulted in the creation of the movement called QAnon.
“Trump has a tendency to love everyone who loves him, and I think that he, as well as the Republican leaders, have a very narrow minded view in that they believe that the only thing they should be doing is trying to hurt Democrats,” sophomore Brian Ng said. “So I don’t believe that Donald Trump is directly, but instead, indirectly responsible for the inflammation that is QAnon.”
According to The Washington Post, QAnon was based on PizzaGate, a conspiracy theory arguing that members of the Democratic Party are a part of a global child trafficking ring. QAnon’s distrust in the government results in them demonizing the Democratic Party and participating in violent acts against them.
Nearly one in 10 of those arrested in the storming of the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6 were connected to QAnon. According to those arrested, QAnon attacked the capitol building with the intention of stopping Congress from certifying Biden’s win.
“People follow QAnon so that they can find reasons to hate democratic leaders and feel as if their party is better than the ‘immoral, corrupt, baby-eating killers’ [of the other party],” junior Mahima Suresh said. “It’s a coping mechanism in a way.”
According to ORF, QAnon has also impacted elections across the U.S. Last fall, QAnon followers targeted the Louisiana and Kentucky state elections by flooding hashtags on Twitter with tweets that smeared their opponents. This resulted in overwhelming support for the Republican Party and created their portrayal as saviours in the government system. Known QAnon supporters, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert have also been elected to Congress, according to Forbes.
“[QAnon] gives people who have malicious intent the platform to spread their ideas,” Suresh said. “These ideas spread into our government, where it slowly impacts our policies and affects marginalized Americans and promotes extreme conservatism, further splitting our country apart and hindering our efforts to reunite.”
In just the past three years, the QAnon movement has continued to grow by 34%, according to CBS. It has acted as a binding force between its core tenet of long-running conspiracy theories about vaccines, white supremacist tropes and far-right, libertarian politics.
“When the pandemic started, people started to panic, and the former president downplaying the virus on one hand and governors and mayors scrambling on the other created a very confusing message, as many people believed that their personal liberties were under attack,” Ng said. “People also have extra time to find a source where their resentment was shared, so conspiracies like QAnon are really appealing and help provide legitimacy to these beliefs.”
Thousands of families and marriages have been torn apart because of QAnon as they have watched their loved ones fall into its illusions. According to The Conversation, those with psychological problems and emotional detachment are prone to develop a conspiratorial mindset. QAnon has led some of its followers to isolate themselves from their family and friends who differ from their beliefs.
“QAnon will do the most to inflame us further,” Ng said. “Any force that drives us so far apart to the point where we hate one simply for their views is awful.”