Ex-QAnon follower explains how she realised the conspiracy is false

Ex-QAnon follower explains how she realised the conspiracy is false
TikTok/Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A 27-year-old woman from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina revealed how she disentangled herself from the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Like other QAnon followers, Ashley Vanderbilt believed that Joe Biden and other Democrats, as well as the ‘Hollywood elite’, would be arrested on Inauguration Day.

When that failed to happen, she began to re-examine her beliefs. She explained in a TikTok video that, after her “heartbreak and disappointment” on Inauguration Day, she decided to step back from the conspiracy theory. She said:

“I was wrong, and it sucks. I have spent the better part of the day crying. Some of it out of disappointment, some of it out of anger and some of it out of fear.

“And I’m seeing different TikToks coming up too; the conspiracies keep going, you know, ‘it was fake, it was pre-recorded’, and I don’t think I’m going to buy into that one.

“I think I need to find some time on personal development and in prayer. I can’t go through that heartbreak and disappointment again.”

In an interview with Insider, Vanderbilt explained that she was “convinced” that Biden’s inauguration would be interrupted by an “emergency broadcasting system” and that the president-elect would be arrested.

“When Kamala Harris was sworn in, I started to get a little nervous,” she said. “[My television] froze and my heart dropped. I thought, oh my God, it’s going to happen”.

When Biden was sworn in, Vanderbilt broke down in tears. She had painstakingly prepared for ‘The Storm’ – the day on which QAnon followers believed Trump would hold onto power – by stockpiling food and filling her car up with petrol.

Vanderbilt also explained why she said she felt “fear” after Biden was sworn in.

“I thought that anybody who was registered as a Republican would get sent off to re-education camps,” she said. “The Democrats were going to start shutting churches and it would escalate to the point of them beginning to execute Christian people.”

When she checked in on her QAnon-supporting Facebook groups, Vanderbilt found that other followers had dismissed ‘The Storm’s’ failure and were now holding out for March 4th, the day on which some conspiracy theorists believe Trump will be sworn in as president again.

“I just didn’t believe it anymore,” she said. “It just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know how a president could be sworn in, it could look so official, and then things could still change.”

The reactions to her TikTok video cemented Vanderbilt’s distrust of QAnon. “The questions I was getting made me self-reflect and made me really tear everything apart and realise how insane it all was,” she explained. “They really ended up pulling me out of it all.”

Vanderbilt now intends to educate people about how easy it is to get caught up in a conspiracy theory on TikTok, the same app on which she says she first encountered QAnon material.

“I’d tell current QAnon followers that whenever they’re ready to explore other options and seek out alternative answers that there’s a huge support system and a lot of encouragement to be given,” she added. “They need to know that it’s OK and it’s actually safe out here.”

Other QAnon supporters have also explained why they left the movement.

The anonymous message-board conspiracy theorist made a series of promises and predictions that failed to materialise, particularly in the wake of president Biden’s election.

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