Uncovering the enigma
Facebook announced this week that it will be expanding its drive to push QAnon content off its platform. This is but one of the many companies worldwide that are now waging an ever-growing battle to contain what may be one of the most prolific conspiracy theories to exist in modern times. The movement is now one that spans across the world, having its own merchandise, symbology and even influential followers such as celebrities and politicians. The nature of the movement has allowed it to ballon almost without restraint as the basic belief of the conspiracy is simply that the rich and the influential are organising themselves in (optionally satanic cabals) that wish to deceive the world and consolidate power in their hands at the detriment of humanity. Under this umbrella movement, one may find everything from anti-vaxxers to climate sceptics, all existing to bring about the 'great beginning' that Q promised at the very beginning.
The roots of this now asymmetrically spread conspiracy machine can be traced back to the ever-controversial message board 4chan. 4chan has existed on the fringe of societal discussions on all sorts of controversial topics since its start and has on many occasions been referred to as the 'troubled teenager' of the internet, politically incorrect to a fault. In 2017, an anonymous account by the name of Q started posting an elaborate but not altogether original conspiracy theory regarding the presence of a global cabal of devil-worshipping paedophiles that are involved in a truly large-scale child trafficking operation. All that is done by this group is ultimately in the name of continuing their immoral plans. The lynchpin of the whole theory was that President Donald Trump was waging a global battle against this cabal and that all negative coverage and pushback against him was a result of a wider effort by the controlled media to suppress him. The sheer level of detail in the conspiracy, with Q calling out several public figures as cabal members, is mind-boggling, Perhaps aware of the level of absurdity to the claims being made, Q fashioned itself as an insider, someone who could see past the layer of reality that all of us are subjected to and constantly a slave of. The promise of an unspecific great awakening is what has made the conspiracy so attractive as an umbrella group. In the world of Q, everything except Q and his chosen apostles are false. Every scientific reality, every undeniable fact is just a story that has been doctored to serve particular interests.
As outlandish as the movement may appear, it has found great popularity in those that sometimes feel disenfranchised by their modern political systems and the obsession to be politically correct. Even before the pandemic, the movement was spreading like wildfire across the world, fuelled in no small part by President Trump and his supporters who have embraced the movement as the perfect representation of their political movement. Indeed, Q has become something of a cultural icon. The pandemic has only served to further strengthen the movement with a report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue stating that QAnon discussions have surged 120 per cent on platforms like Twitter and Facebook in the month of March. Different reasons have been given for this spread. First, that Q is actively calling for the digital warriors of the movement to come together and protect their glorious and impending revolution, Second, researchers have stated that Russian Government supported organisations have played a significant role in amplifying the conspiracy theories of Q. But most importantly, times of doubt and fear always form fertile ground for such conspiracies to thrive and provide answers for the perceived hardships and miseries of life.
Of course, since the QAnon movement lacks definite structure, it has on occasion been known to do good as well, organising real protests against the very real and serious problem of child trafficking. But the real danger is that it provides dangerous fringe groups like neo-Nazis to organise under a banner of relatively greater legitimacy. As Q gains more followers from everywhere from Germany to India, this 'parasite' of the web is likely to continue dividing society in already divided times.