Three weeks inside a pro-trump qanon chat room
Believers apply the same approach to everyday news: Find information that confirms any existing beliefs, then use it to augment their understanding of the conspiracy. A few in the chat discussed plans to meet in person. Many believers have paid a price for their views. Instead of coming to grips with that loss, they moved on to another idea: Mr. Trump needed to allow the vote to be certified to spot his enemies.
Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to the city, and many of them were deputized to perform arrests — surely a that Mr. Days went by, and nothing. Many members were struggling in some way — financially or emotionally, with legal troubles or addiction.
Conspiracy theories chatroom! (trigger warning)
Over and over again, confusing decisions, unexpected outcomes and a lack of evidence were recast as part of Mr. They believed Mr. None of that happened. Then blackouts were reported across the world. Times Opinion has included audio clips from the chat in this story because the group is public. Right-wing activists were organizing with fervor on al and Telegram.
They had been through this cycle so many times before, with promises of lawsuits that could overturn the election or a Supreme Court intervention that Mr. Trump had planned for months. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Do it. The mood was positive, even emotional. Names and any identifying information have been omitted. They would develop a list of sources, vet credentials, link to original material, and view unconfirmed information skeptically.
And while none of it excuses participation in a dangerous collective delusion, it takes the complex process of radicalization and gives it a human dimension. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed.
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If the current version of the Q conspiracy theory dissolves, what happens to its followers? I was left rattled and deeply concerned. Others made excuses. Reject facts or information that counter the existing beliefs.
Sometimes the chat is lighthearted, like when supporters swap details about grocery runs or wish one another happy birthday. In the chat, they shared their real-time reactions as Mr. And when Mr. But by the next morning, members who had called for the siege had changed their tune. Yet, as the inauguration drew closer, it was still raised as a possibility. The Q delusion requires fitting unexpected events into a bigger narrative. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions. While people might say things online they would never do in person, all it takes is one person for digital conspiracies to take a deadly turn.
Otherwise, nothing is going to change. They were, in a sense, inventing journalism. We rely on each other going forward. As Covid swept their states, many got sick, and some family members died. Power outages in India and at the Vatican were possible s. What seemed like a preposterous descent into a kind of madness made slightly more sense. The riot in Washington was one such opportunity.
It turned my brain to mush. Yet it was also clear they wanted a confrontation. As the inauguration approached, s were adding up in their favor. I wondered what would happen in the days after Mr. Their response was to improve their process. Still, they had hope.
I spent the past three weeks listening to the channel — from before the Jan. Participants tend to revere Mr. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. He could use the Insurrection Act at any moment, putting America under martial law and using the military to seize control of the government. In the process, followers have become more isolated, stuck inside an echo chamber from which they may never escape. And that will be harder to unravel. Now it was antifa that was responsible for the Capitol raid and any violence conspiracy theory chat rooms followed.
None of it came to pass. Trump was an antidote to Washington and was beholden to neither party. They say their main focus is reinstituting paper ballots. These were honestly held beliefs. The day before, many in the chat room were worried about antifa attacking their friends. But when Jan. Biden was inaugurated. I was listening in. We know not to watch these people. This is what they sounded like. Apps and social networks, like this audio chat room, stepped in, offering a welcoming community with shared beliefs.
They already found a communityand their friendships weathered Mr. If anything, their bonds have been strengthened. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.
Listening to the conspiracists — unfiltered and in their own voices — makes that digital conversation disturbingly real. So, I mean, you have people, a small few, that makes the majority look bad.
As I spent more time in the group, I understood why the conspiracy has such gravitational pull. And history is going to be very kind to him and the people that fought on the right side of the war. The original version of the conspiracy seems in tatters, but the community is strong. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they ed short recordings instead of typing. Nothing they predicted came true. Not every Democrat is bad.
The audio chat offers a clearer picture of these believers than the Facebook s and Telegram channels where they also gather. The channel was thriving, keeping hope alive for dozens of followers.
Some were shunned by friends and family. Then you can watch those views harden.
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Trump for many reasons. When Mr. By rejecting mainstream news, they embraced liars who fed them exactly what they wanted to hear. Theories spread that Q was actually part of a deep state plot to keep Mr. And if that was true, their prophets, like Q and Mr. Our forefathers never relied on one man. That should be clear after the Capitol riot, which was largely organized online and resulted in five deaths.
The all-caps screeds of the internet give way to gentler moments, like when they talk about their pets or babysitting their grandkids. Hearing them talk with one another, I could start understanding the pull of conspiracy communities — how they exploit the vulnerable and create a worldview out of shared enemies.
Beneath the anger in their voices is often pain or confusion. As the rally began, participants ed dispatches from the ground. Another was living in a sober house. And while I didn't lose my way, I was taken aback by the experience. A few members were recently out of prison. We cannot have that. Key to sustaining their beliefs is the expectation that the other shoe is always about to drop.