By: Michael Lundie
The author of this piece in The Atlantic exposes the genealogy of the QAnon conspiracy community
The QAnon community is emblematic of the most virulent and dangerous purveyors of misinformation in online media. Virulent, because of the alarming rate at which fringe conspiracy theories transition to the mainstream, signaled by the congressional primary victory in Georgia by Republican candidate Majorie Taylor Green. Dangerous, because such misinformation poses a serious threat to our democracy. What’s interesting about the QAnon community in particular, as pointed out by Adrienne LaFrance, the insightful author of the article from The Atlantic, is that it has subsumed other conspiracies along the way (e.g., Pizzagate). So it has functioned as a sort of siren call attracting many disparate conspiracy groups together under a single recognizable banner.
My sense is that the QAnon conspiracy theory is attractive primarily because it canvasses a compelling portrait of a good vs evil struggle over the world of the mundane. It casts its adherents as patriots engaged in an epic struggle for the soul of the country. And thus, it confers a powerful motivating force to take political action. However, this zero-sum picture of the political landscape leaves no room for compromise. To do so would amount to a betrayal of one’s fellow patriots.
This presents a serious conundrum. Are there are ways of framing the discussion that would undermine confidence in the tenets of QAnon to which its adherents would be receptive? Perhaps the solution would involve supplanting the Qanon narrative with an equally compelling alternative? These are worthwhile questions that remain to be explored further.