EDIT: Forgot the link.
My god. I think we underestimated the allure of QAnon for much too long. It all seemed so ludicrous that anybody outside of the usual conspiracy theorists would believe that the Clintons, Obamas, and democrats are running an underground satanic pedophilia cannibal ring and using the blood of children as a drug to get high and the only person that could save them was Donald Trump. I mean, even typing that last sentence after reading the article, I still almost want to laugh while rolling my eyes. But it’s not funny. It’s grown from conspiracy to cult in a tremendously short time:
Shortly before Joe Biden was inaugurated, Sam’s mother began stocking up on food in a panic. He didn’t know why, but he knew it probably had something to do with QAnon.
The 19-year-old started to notice changes in his mother’s behavior around the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. She had always been a nervous woman: She stopped flying after 9/11 and had hovered closely to Sam and his two younger siblings for their entire lives. But during the COVID-19 crisis, his mom’s paranoia spiraled from quirky to deranged. It has turned her into someone he hardly recognizes.
Though she didn’t used to be very political, she now fears the president is a pedophile who stole the election. She’s scared of radiation from the 5G towers in her neighborhood and, as a white woman, she told her son, she’s afraid of being harmed by Black Lives Matter protesters — a movement she once supported. She worries that Sam’s brother and sister are being “indoctrinated” at their public high school and wants to move them to a Catholic one. She’s also refusing to get them immunized against COVID-19 as false rumors swirl that the vaccine contains a secret location-tracking microchip. (She was initially terrified of the virus but now considers the lockdowns an affront to her freedoms.)
“She wasn’t always like this,” Sam said. “It just keeps getting worse.”
Sam moved back into his mom’s Michigan home last March when his college campus shut down. His dad, who’d been divorced from his mother for many years, had recently died, and it was nice to be back around family. But Sam quickly noticed his mom was spending almost all of her time online. For hours into the night she’d be on Facebook and, later, Parler, obsessing over articles from obscure, ultraconservative websites that traffic in fake news. She’d send posts to Sam pushing political claims that were risibly false, and they’d get into furious arguments over dinner as he tried to debunk them.
As his mom grew increasingly irritable and combative, Sam spent more time hiding out in his bedroom. It was disturbing to hear his mother rattling off such brazen and hateful falsehoods, unwilling to listen to reason. She seemed angry all the time and was suddenly gravely concerned about things like pedophilia. So a few months ago, Sam decided to look into #SaveTheChildren, a hashtag she’d been using a lot on social media. It led him straight to QAnon. And at once, things started to make sense.