QAnon, the bogus conspiracy theory that claims President Donald Trump is working to uncover a secret global pedophile ring, has become more mainstream — and several Republican congressional candidates running for office this year have claimed to be true Q believers.
However, belief in this conspiracy theory is often all-consuming for its adherents, which is why it has also left a string of broken relationships in its wake.
In a Reddit forum called /r/QAnonCasualties, people who have had their relationships with family and friends destroyed by belief in QAnon come together to talk about their experiences and offer emotional support to others who have had similar experiences to what they’ve had.
One recent post, for example, described a “30-year friendship gone” and was written by a user who found themselves unable to tolerate a person who had gotten trapped into the warped logic of the conspiracy theory.
“He truly felt like he was one of the few who saw reality as it really was,” this person explained. “Anything I said to him could be dismissed as the propaganda of the indoctrinated whereas everything he felt was true could be validated based on his personal interpretation of ‘critical thinking.'”
Another user with several QAnon-following family members declared that he was “losing everyone” because of the conspiracy theory.
“Normally, escaping to friends/family is where you go when the rest of the world seems crazy,” they wrote. “Now? There is no escape. Everyone is in on the cult — but you. There is no escape. Even my friends who are liberal and anti-Trump are sharing and posting stuff from Q-Anon pages. They’re sucked in. They’re posting false kidnapping/missing children statistics, daily. And if you simply provide actual statistics and fact-check, you’re ‘defending pedophilia.'”
Another user said that they were “honestly at my wits end here because my Facebook feed is all Qanon conspiracy theories,” while another woman said that her “heart has been sinking” because her fiance had “gone down this rabbit hole” and is refusing to hear any information that would contradict the conspiracy theory.
Often these users ask what they can do to bring their loved ones back and the answer is usually: Not much in the near term.
“I wouldn’t even bother [trying to change their minds],” one person wrote in response to a distressed user. “I keep going back and forth on whether or not to engage my in-laws. They have assimilated their faith in Christ and the end times in a web of Q bs. Prob not worth my efforts and headaches to try to change their minds.”