by Dawn Via, Contributor
QAnon has wracked social media feeds since President Trump’s election. If you’ve had the unfortunate chance of being subjected to these posts, your first reaction is likely confusion. If not confusion, then perhaps curiosity. Let’s take a look at what, or who, QAnon is and how it’s affecting the rest of us.
QAnon: The “Organization”
Organization is in quotes, because it did not start as an organization. QAnon him/herself, yes, an individual, was an anonymous user called “Q Clearance Patriot” posting conspiracy theories on 4chan, an imageboard website – basically a message board with pictures. This user influenced others of their ilk to post similarly worded conspiracies until it grew into what is essentially a cult. This may have been the intention from the start. If not, they took their new mantle and ran with it.
What does the “Q” stand for? The Q is in reference to the Q clearance of the department within the United States Department of Energy. This is the clearance you would need to access information about materials, such as nuclear weapons. Thus, not knowing who the user actually was, Q was put in front of Anonymous and shortened to QAnon.
They attempted to infiltrate many social media sites. Some sites have banned QAnon for inciting violence.
What have “They” done?
QAnon galvanized the people of the right into believing that President Trump had a grand master plan to arrest a ring of the most popular Democrats, among other fables. Here are two conspiracy theories propagated by QAnon that seem to be the most popular.
This conspiracy theory popped up just at the end of the Presidential race of 2016. It started when a known white supremacist Twitter account, presenting itself falsely as a lawyer, presented information from the New York City Police Department. The information was related to a case against Democrat Anthony Weiner who was part of an investigation due to a sexting scandal. It claimed that the police had found information on a pedophilia ring that involved other members of the Democratic party.
It goes deeper. Others also interpreted data collected during the data breach of John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as being code for human trafficking. Some took it as far as stating it was a ring for Satanic rituals.
As with whisper down the lane, the story gets more warped as it went from news site to news site. Different accounts, all stating that they were part of QAnon, posting their own version of what they believed was going on, ultimately claiming that the police had raided Hillary’s place of residence and stating that the FBI had confirmed that story. These stories were fact-checked by multiple sources and found to be false — not that you needed the FBI to deny the claim, anyway.
Why is it called Pizzagate? The ring was said to have been operating out of a pizza shop. The theory has been debunked and fact-checked (or false checked, really), by The New York Times, Snopes.com, and Fox News.
Despite being proven entirely untrue, this set the stage for another downpour of interesting information.
In short, this theory is exactly like Pizzagate. The difference is the brilliance of fiction in regard to who is being put under the microscope in Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The beginning of the storm, or the calm before the storm as it was called, occurred when President Trump commented on a gathering of military personnel, and when asked why this was happening, he only commented, “You’ll see.” QAnon grasped onto this subject and took it for a ride.
This newly cooked theory spread like wildfire amongst social media, Twitter being the at the head. Everyone was excited for the arrests of Hillary Clinton, Obama, and the like.
To fan the fire even more, QAnon claimed that there would be a message sent out via Emergency Broadcast Service to avoid all of the fake news media sources. This never happened, as any sensible person could have predicted. The Storm still went on for the avid supporter of QAnon.
Alex Jones, seeing an opportunity to gain even more supporters, absorbed the QAnon into his fold, saying that he could confirm the theories with his own sources.
The Stable Genius is QAnon
Another puzzle piece added to all of this information that doesn’t fit, is that the mighty original Q is actually President Trump himself. The train of thought is that President Trump has been slowly leaking information to the public because he cannot announce it as himself.
This has also been fact-checked by sources. It’s unlikely that QAnon has anything to do with President Trump, other than being on the high side of the see-saw.
Influence on Mainstream Ideas
QAnon and all of its stories have had an impact on anyone who has access to social media, especially 4chan, 8chan, and Twitter. Whether you believe the theories or not isn’t the issue. It’s whether you contribute to the spark that creates the current.
The reason that these theories worked so well to worm their way into news feeds is that they were easily adaptable. When the “intel drops” were first released, they were vague enough to allow those who were chomping at the bit to form their own theories. Whether they were factual or not, as has been set as the precedent by the President, does not matter.
It also helped give those who were feeling oppressed by Robert Mueller’s investigation to feel enlightened and hopeful that there would be Democrats taking the brunt of the hammer. They’re still waiting for the investigations into the Democrats that President-Elect Trump had promised to shine through. In the worst circumstance, it encourages people like Cesar Sayoc to commit atrocities against his fellow humankind.
Rallying as QAnon
With this group feeling a twisted form of togetherness in their doctored stories, they’ve felt it necessary to take their presence from digital to physical.
Sporting QAnon shirts, whether branded or homemade, supporters attended rallies. In Florida, people harassed the media as President Trump has stirred them to do. Billboards using advertising that echoes Info Wars popped up around the same time. Even children were taking to the QAnon name, thinking of it as a source of new hip internet memes.
It’s clear the leaking of another poison into the political waters has only proven to make the environment more toxic. What will clean up this spill? Not being content with being dormant. Voting at more than just the top levels. Do something. The only thing that good people must do to ensure corrupt intentions succeed is to do nothing.
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