“My mother is starting to scare me”, “my wife has become a stranger”: these families torn apart by conspiracy theories

More than a conspiracy theory, QAnon is described by some as a cult. According to proponents of this theory, President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against corrupt elites and pedophilia. Facts that are not based on any evidence and that are more hoax than anything else. Thanks to the clues left on forums by an anonymous figure, called “Q”, those who believe in the theory would be informed of the next actions of Donald Trump in this “war”. Particularly popular with supporters of Donald Trump, the movement was born in the United States around 2017. But the phenomenon is not isolated: in September, the movement seemed to gradually spread in Europe.

My mom has been digging deep into QAnon conspiracy theories since about 2017, but she didn’t talk much about it at first. I think, like many people, his interest and engagement started to intensify near the start of the pandemic. We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve decided not to talk about it to preserve our relationship, but she’s starting to convince other members of my family that these conspiracies are true. “, writes a surfer.

In this discussion space, the testimonies follow one another and are alike. The description sets the tone: ” Do you have a loved one who has been caught up in the QAnon conspiratorial fantasy? Here you will find emotional support and a place where you can let off steam. The forum was created in July 2019. As of June 2020, less than 3,500 members had joined the forum. It now brings together more than 70,000 people at the time of writing this article, in January 2021. The forum brings together testimonials from users from Canada, England and the Netherlands.

Users define themselves as collateral victims of QAnon theories. This forum allows them to talk about their loved ones and find emotional support. Taking advantage of the anonymity offered by the internet, some open up and share very personal things. “My husband refuses to believe Trump lost the election “, can we read in a publication.” I have lost all hope, we are in the process of a divorce. It’s almost like you’re dealing with an addict; at some point you just have to walk away “, continues the user.

In response to the post, messages of support are piling up. Some also give advice, based on their own experience.

A glimmer of hope

Fortunately, not all the testimonies are calls for help. Among them, some seek to restore hope.

One of the things I’ve seen repeated here is that instead of trying to chat with them, just listen to them and ask them why they believe what they are saying. So I tried this yesterday while visiting a friend “Says a forum user.” I followed this advice. It seemed to work and make him think “, he continues.” I feel like I have progressed. The general tone of the conversation was not as aggressive as in some of our arguments in the past. “.

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