The baseless theory has spread online since 2017 through messaging services and forums such as 8Chan by a mysterious figure known as Q, claimed that there was a deep state agenda against Donald Trump led by Satanists and sex offenders.
Followers of Q, who sported the letter on banners and their clothing soon started appearing at Trump rallies and were even photographed with former vice president Mike Pence. Many of those who stormed the US Capitol building on 6 January wore Q merchandise.
However, after Joe Biden was sworn in as Trump’s successor in the White House, many followers of QAnon were either left disheartened that their theory didn’t come true, while for others it further emboldened their beliefs.
Some have since appeared to have left the conspiracy behind altogether including one person who took part in a Reddit AMA session on Sunday 24 January. The individual that goes by the username of u/diceblue admitted that they used to believe in many conspiracy theories including Q, Pizzagate, 9/11, the Illuminati and area 51.
Perhaps the most enlightening part of the session was when they were asked what their epiphany was, and diceblue explained:
"Honestly? It was a couple of posts made by Q on the chans that seemed highly suspicious because of how ignorant they were of technology. Q posts often had weird syntaxe as a kind of code
Kind Of [writing like this] as if there was [a secret] in using brackets To Tell The Truth.
One morning Q claimed to have shut down 7 FBI super computers (named after the seven dwarves no less) via satellite hacking and all the rabid fans ate it up, claiming that "their internet was running a little bit faster)
FBI Super Computer ::SLEEPY::[[OFFLINE]]
Alarm bells went off in my head because come on, that's not how any of this works. Using elementary school syntax form To SpeLl a [[Secret Code ]] felt fishy, and claiming your email in rural Montana loaded faster because seven super computers got shut down by remote hacking was a bridge too far for me. I realised that most of the Q believers I had seen were Boomers with no idea how technology works or people my age with no idea how computers operate. That day, I Googled Q Anon Debunked and got out."
When asked why they decided to drop all the conspiracy theories, diceblue explained that they felt being brought up as a fundamentalist Christian made them more prone to beliefs of ‘evil forces’.
“I did drop it all at once. Yeah. It was massively humbling to realize I'd been a sucker. I think a huge part of the problem was growing up fundamentalist Christian. Theories about evil evolution, science denial and The End of The world rapture return of Christ stuff is all pretty crazy too. There's a strong link between the two.”
He added that a perk of being part of the movement was that Q would compliment them and “stroke our egos” which gave them a “massive ego boost” but is now much happier that he doesn’t believe in the theories anymore. They added, “People don't realize how F**king Scary [sic] life is when you think about the world is being run by a cabal of evil demon-possessed overlords intent on destroying your way of life.”
When asked if he really believed what was being said or simply suspended his disbelief, he said that “I really believed. Worth noting, conspiracy thinking hooks the brain because it feels like critical thinking.” In the intro to the thread diceblue speculated on why he thinks conspiracy theorist get such satisfaction from their beliefs.
“There is a perverse comfort in Con Ts [conspiracy theorists] because of the false sense of order and purpose it brings to the world. Either the world is a board game chess match [sic] between Good and Evil forces working behind the scenes, and you might be a pawn but at least you are on The Right Side or you admit that the world is a mess, nobody is in charge, there is no grand battle of good and evil behind the scenes and your life has less purpose and order than you hoped.”