Who is falling for QAnon?

This is kind of depressing: KT Nelson trawled through QAnon facebook groups to get a feel for what kind of people go for it. And the answer is…old, gullible people who have totally alienated themselves from their families with their obsessive crank theorizing.

As you probably noticed from the examples I have provided, the Q crew is made up of a very specific archetype of internet denizen: elderly right-wingers who have gone too far down the online rabbit hole. Diving into any given thread you’d be lucky to find someone whose age drops below 55—but you will encounter one of the most unnerving melanges of psychotic ramblings and hateful screeds available anywhere. Calls for sanity are met with accusations of “controlled opposition,” and the only theories that are criticized are ones that question if the group has gone too far. But more importantly, almost every single member of Q’s following seems to have one glaring and unifying trait: They are deeply, heartbreakingly lonely.

Yikes. The pain and suffering inflicted on the people who adore Trump almost makes me feels some sympathy for them.

Wait…over 55? But that’s not that old, I’m over 55.

It gets worse.

Theories about Q’s endgame abound, but after watching closely for several months now, I think the odds are in favor of Q being an elaborate troll, aimed directly at one of the most gullible demographics in the world—old people on Facebook. A recent study found that people over 65 were several times more likely to share “fake news” online than young folks were, and nobody loves sharing a hot bowl of bullshit more than QAnon adherents. I thought early on that as more and more Q predictions did not come to pass, the following would dwindle, but these incredibly online grandparents have seemingly endless capacity for dissembling, and can conspiracy-brain themselves out of almost any corner.

Old people on Facebook? I’m on Facebook!

I was talking to my daughter the other day, and she informed me that the only people still using Facebook are old boring people, which is why she doesn’t use it much. I asked her what the young exciting people were using nowadays, and she hesitated — like she didn’t want to encourage some old gomer to discover the haunts of beautiful young people, and ruin them — and reluctantly admitted that some of them were using Instagram, but I think she might be hiding something. I have a conspiracy theory about that, and clearly Zuckerberg is in trouble.

At least I haven’t alienated my family…yet. Or they aren’t telling me.


  1. davidnangle says

    I’ve got proof right here, probably from some Navy SEAL, Ranger, special forces, off-the-books government agent, that proves that all the most favorite right wing theories were created by Shillary and Nancy Pelosi, and hating Shillary and Nancy Pelosi is exactly what they demand those Q-sheeple do, all day and every day. They fell for it!

    And the left’s agenda is being fulfilled with every new post against them. Damn!

  2. chrislawson says

    This is a near-replication of Leon Festinger’s famous doomsday cult study that led to him coining the phrase “cognitive dissonance.” The nature of the cult’s beliefs has changed, but not the behavioural patterns.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m actually working on a scenario for Delta Green (for the uninitiated, it’s a tabletop Cthulhu Mythos horror/conspiracy role-playing game. Think X-Files meets H. P. Lovecraft) where the agents have to track down the source of a QAnon style conspiracy-monger exposing supernatural secrets. Turns out it will be a new avatar of Nyarlathotep spreading madness over the Internet.

  4. petermountain says

    I thought QAnon was exclusively 4chan. But, I can see how Facebook has more potential.

  5. says

    I suspect checking out the relevant reddit and 4chan QAnon groups would bring down the average age of QAnon true believers considerably.

  6. stevewatson says

    About the old lonely guy: I bet there’s a reason his family never calls him. Like maybe how every conversation, before too long, takes a hard right turn into his latest loony obsession, and then he gets angry when they won’t go there with him…..

  7. asoricaho says

    “Instagram … clearly Zuckerberg is in trouble”

    You know that Facebook owns Instagram, right?

  8. cartomancer says

    I think if we take a step back from this peculiar phenomenon we have to acknowledge that it arises in part because American society (in particular, but some other countries are not that different) is rapidly losing the kinds of collective social opportunities it once had. Sure, some of them are lonely because they are hissing, boggle-eyed misanthropes and always have been, but I suspect a good number simply get caught up because society is genuinely a more lonely place and few but this crew of misfits will have them.

    This increased social atomisation has many causes. Urban planning which isolates people, lack of funding for community initiatives, increasing work hours and reduced wages putting a strain on what people can afford to do and the spare time they have to do it, all kinds of things. Social cohesion needs to be supported and worked on, it won’t just happen by itself. And when it isn’t supported, people end up isolated and lonely and easier prey for these sorts of things.

  9. says

    Poe’s Law is in effect here… it’d be just like the trolls from 4chan to pose as right-wing seniors (“how do you do, fellow elders”?) gone far down the rabbit hole “for the lulz”– “I am so alienated from my ungrateful lib brats I’m living out in a clapboard shack in the woods on grain alcohol and varmints, and will be long cannibalized by coyotes before they find my ornery old hide! All hail QAnon!”– just to see if they encourage others to do so, or make light of the misery of anyone whose relationship with their family members has been damaged by this nonsense.

  10. says

    The youths were using Snapchat for a while, but that’s history now.

    I’m curious how much of the Qanon cult is people who voted for the Hamberdler and can’t accept how much of a buffoon he is and that someone as incompetent as he is not only got their votes but managed to be elected to the most powerful political office in the world. He has to be a secret genius, otherwise they’d have made a mistake and the world is broken.

  11. doubtthat says

    Gotta say that the age thing surprised me. Totally believe that Boomers spread the most bullshit, but I thought that Q-Anon stuff was the gamergate/incel/MRA crowd. The olds I’m acquainted with on Facebook that spread bullshit haven’t dug into the Q stuff, explicitly (though I bet a good percentage of the meme nonsense they share originated from that mess).
    Very sad and very strange. More evidence that the lead-poisoned Boomers are the worst generation in human history.

  12. says

    I kind of get the impression that younger people generally think of social media sites as being sort of like cell phone games, except with the potential to get you in trouble long after you’ve finally kicked your addiction and stopped playing, and so they aren’t using them the way that Facebook kind of demands that you use it — getting more and more enmeshed, with lots of private information either entered explicitly or potentially deducible from what you post.

  13. robro says

    I was talking to my daughter the other day, and she informed me that the only people still using Facebook are old boring people, which is why she doesn’t use it much. I asked her what the young exciting people were using nowadays, and she hesitated

    Ha! I’ve had almost exactly the same conversation with my 27 year old son who sometimes refers to FaceBook as BoomerBook or BoomerVile. A few years ago he described FaceBook as a “resume stain.”

    But it’s a mixed bag. My mid-50s wife is very much of the same opinion as our son, although she likes Instagram. And another 71 year old friend hates FB.

  14. hemidactylus says

    I know someone squarely in the demographic who is somewhat alienated from his family and has alienated me with repeated instances of dark and dogmatic flights of fancy stemming from trips down the Youtube breadcrumb trail that inevitability leads to reptilian caverns in LA and India and the extra-biblical Nephilim. Pessimistic fatalism plays a role. When you’re in your 50s relative (pun?) deprivation rears its head and disillusionment with the idealistic life promoted in younger years if that didn’t play out. I am actually empathetic with that punctured bubble. Arrogance toward misled sheeple others is strong, but who doesn’t think ideological antagonists are deluded by the powers that be? The IDW trope of “regressive leftism” is a great example of sheeplism. That’s a common elitist trait outside the conspiracy mindset. My developing philosophy of jaded cynicism has a role for PR and mass media distortion, but also acknowledges Hanlon’s razor.

    @9 cartomancer seems to invoke Putnam’s bowling alone thesis. That’s an interesting take.

    Thankfully I got the conspiracism out of my system in my early 20s via Trilateralism. Now I think much better of Brzezinski as a visionary. There’s still gotta be a subset of nutters or deluded followers in the younger group. How else can we hear that the Illuminati have an obsession with famous black men wearing dresses as an initiation rite, a concern that now that I type it out sounds transphobic on its face. My guess is that among the younger set a heavy pot habit may contribute to seeing patterns where they don’t exist. “Dude we like live in a Matrix and the interdimensional lizards gave us Big Momma’s House and Madea.” Pass the blunt.

    It is not to their credit that Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx cut their teeth on cheap laugh trans disparagement during their careers.

  15. hemidactylus says

    Oh and I never had a Facebook. I saw that trainwreck coming early on, long before I learned what a creepy asshole Zuckerberg was at Harvard. Granted I have been tempted to join, but never did. Never had to unfriend a MAGA acquaintance or family member for posting toxicity. I foresaw the problems with crossing streams on the wall of shame or whatever they call it. Who seriously ever thought that would be a good idea? Friends, family, coworkers, and high school classmates you never really liked collected in the same cesspit? I’ll pass, especially now in the age of fake news, “memes”, and Trump tweets.

  16. lotharloo says

    I had the most sympathy after reading this sentence

    … but after watching closely for several months now,

    I cannot imagine how someone can follow Q-anon for even a week. So this person must be very dedicated to journalism.

  17. says

    Strange coincidence, but last night one of my sons (mid 20s) actually suggested that I use Instagram.
    …And I’m so old that there are actually many countries that are younger than me!!

  18. ck, the Irate Lump says

    I hate to say it, but Russia is becoming the QAnon for liberals. Every inconvenient voice or critic of the Democratic party gets tied to Russia in a demented “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”-style game. Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Ilhan Omar, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and so many others are apparently all agents of Russia to these people because of retweets, appearances on Russian media, or any photograph where they appear with someone with a Russian name.

    To me, the worst part of all conspiracy theories is often that they help excuse the real things that happen with similarities to the conspiracy theory and how they turn off people’s ability to reason critically. QAnon isn’t wrong that there are pedophiles and other abusers in the halls of power, but it then misdirects it at a single political power and excuses those whose political alignment doesn’t align with the conspiracy. Russiagate isn’t wrong that propaganda was created to attempt to influence politics, but then it misdirects by becoming a sword to cut down anyone who defies the established Democratic centre.