I Left QAnon in 2019. But I’m Still Not Free.

These days, QAnon hasn’t made the headlines like it was after January 6th. I guess most of the world doesn’t pay attention to QAnon anymore unless his followers do something particularly strange, like the recent gathering in Dallas where hundreds met in hopes of seeing John F. Kennedy Jr. is alive. But from where I stand, I don’t see QAnon fading out – I see it getting stronger.

I was drawn to QAnon in the winter of 2017. At that time, I followed a different plot show online and the internet led me to Q. I was living in Australia, where I still live, but I was interested in American politics since spending six months in the US a few years ago. I had attracted Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary and was frustrated when he lost.

When I found QAnon, I didn’t just flirt with her – I sank deep. She has internalized the idea that the world is run by the Cabal, a group of liberal politicians, Hollywood tycoons, billionaires and other influential elites who worship Satan and molest children. I believed that Donald Trump was leading the fight against the Kabbalah and that there was a plan in place to defeat them. I couldn’t wait for the storm to come, Qunun’s version of doomsday that would herald the declaration of martial law and a wave of public executions. I was looking forward to the execution of Hillary Clinton, whom Keough had portrayed as a pedophile and a murderer. I would have cheered up. Qunun showed me that I can be passionate about violence, and it’s hard to forgive myself for that.

I understood that QAnon was a lie on June 13, 2019. Just minutes after writing an internet post laden with QAnon conspiracies, I watched a YouTube video reviewing the times Trump has used the phrase “tippy top” over the years. Q said that when Trump said that phrase, he was referring to Annonz, the “Patriots,” that everything is going according to plan in the fight with the Deep State. But the video showed Trump had always used that phrase a lot, long before he ran for president and a question arose. That’s when it clicked on me: This was all a lie.

I went out on my porch in Sydney, Australia, smoked a cigarette and the idea came to mind that I had lost two years of my life to a vile conspiracy set by a psychopath. I even introduced my father to it. still an affiliate. I can not reach him.

Then I went inside and sat down and wrote a different post, this time on a Reddit forum dedicated to exposing the conspiracy. I’m addressing the post: You guys were right.

The pain and shame that accompanied the disappointment was overwhelming. I could not look into people’s eyes. I felt like I had committed a violent crime and was running for my life. I was terrified that someone would find out my secret and my life would be ruined forever. I lived with this fear for a year. During that time, I didn’t talk about QAnon or read anything about American politics because it reminds me of my time in Q’s slavery.

There was only one way I re-exposed myself to QAnon during that time: I re-read the comments on a Reddit post I had written in the hour I quit. The kind words from strangers saying that it wasn’t my fault and that I was brave to get out made me feel better. Through this post a journalist found me in June 2020 and I got my first interview request. The only thing the journalist asked me about was to tell my story.

the only thing? “I thought. There was no such thing as Just Tells my story. I asked everyone in my life who knew about my time with Qanoun if I should speak with the reporter. Every one of them tried to get me out of it.

However, the general public was just aware of QAnon and was underestimating the real danger that an online conspiracy could cause. I thought people should know more. I also wanted to be able to reach out to those who were about to fall into or leave a canon. I thought making my experience public might give them a boost that would help them escape the lie. I also didn’t understand the point of doing this halfway – if I wanted the Anons to take me seriously, I needed to put my name on the registry.

I also felt more physically safe speaking in Australia than I would if I lived in the US, I knew Anons could be violent (someone later posted my address and a picture of my house online) and found comfort in knowing that most QAnon followers seem To live in the US and that it would take an expensive plane ticket and a very long flight for anyone to get to me. Australia also has stricter laws on guns, so there was no need to worry about someone showing up armed.

“Whatever. I’ll do it. Life is too short. Who cares?” I believed. After ignoring the interview request for a month, I answered and said I would.

I was very nervous during my first interview, but was relieved to extract my experience. Even before that story was published, more interview requests came in, and I accepted them all. These interviews, one after the other, drained me of my shyness. Now tell all your ex Anons to share their stories – it’s healing. For a long time, my biggest fear was that someone would find out that I had followed Q. By telling the whole world about it, I removed all the power he had to shame. I still feel guilty for my beliefs, but I’m no longer afraid or ashamed.

Over the past year, I have spoken with many journalists, researchers and family members of those who have fallen in love with Qanoun. No one told me that my story helped them escape from Qunun, but I do speak to current Anons surprisingly often. Usually, they reach out to each other to make fun of me or confront me, but I always manage to turn it into a real conversation. I know how to talk to them because I used to be one of them – I don’t put them down, but I also don’t let them get away with bullshit and false thinking. These conversations are very stressful – they can take 12 hours and require writing long articles, with their arguments being addressed point by point. The trick is not to let them walk over you and respond to their beliefs without insulting their intelligence. And if you care about someone, you can try asking them why being right is more important to them than having an effective relationship with you.

A few months ago, I did a live broadcast of the QAnon conference in Dallas. Those present did not refer to their movement as Qanun, but all the elements were present – the ideas, slogans, and current “celebrities” of the conspiracy movement. I wanted to be there to talk to them. why? Going from pro-Bernie Sanders to pro-Trump to political homeless left me a lot of emotional and intellectual unfinished business with the right and the left. I sorted all my unfinished business with the left by talking to the media. I think most of the media stayed, but I also saw how journalism worked and how carefully I was scrutinized before my story was considered credible. But I still feel angry and betrayed by the Right. The intellectual right has a lot of great ideas, but they have abandoned them all to side with Trump and his allegations of election fraud. what happened? I was going to talk to the Dallas attendees about that.

Although I wasn’t there, the only thing that surprised me about the Dallas convention was how well-rounded and professionally good it was. He tells me that the traffic infrastructure is improving and it is growing. I don’t agree with people who say QAnon is fading – I think his believers are growing as fast as the fan base of “Game of Thrones” when it came out. Its content may be banned from popular social media but I believe it still exists, thriving out of the prying eyes of the polite community.

This worries me. I think QAnon has a lot in common with doomsday cults and in the past, doomsday rituals turned violent. I wasn’t surprised when the FBI said that “digital soldiers” could turn violent, nor was I surprised that they stormed the Capitol on January 6. I think more real-world violence is inevitable in the future. Eventually, Anons will get tired of waiting for the storm. After that, they will take the martial law enforcement order into their own hands.

I don’t see a natural end point for this plot now. She survived Q’s disappearance and Trump’s loss in 2020, which, according to the theory, should never have happened. But the movement is changing. Qunun has always been an all-encompassing conspiracy that has allowed people to bring in them the conspiratorial beliefs they wanted. Now, without Trump in the White House and Q trying to direct his flow, this inclusiveness is becoming more and more apparent. What remains is a more decentralized movement, with a growing set of beliefs, united by a shared culture of mistrust towards institutions and a do-it-yourself approach to conspiracy theories.

My biggest dream right now is to see other former QAnon followers score with their experience so I can fade into mystery and optimism. I had a life before that and I want to go back to it. But no one is willing to take on these responsibilities from me. Once a reporter told me that maybe no one is talking because I already do. Maybe so. But I don’t want to do this forever.

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