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You know we’re in trouble when your granny joins QAnon

July 24, 2020

One of the more interesting things about the BBC’s recent feature about QAnon is the claim that large numbers of older people are signing up to its interesting worldview. There was a plaintive piece to camera from one guy who said that “the person I knew as my mother is no longer present and is probably not coming back”, meaning that she was away with the conspiracy fairies, presumably. It seems that there’s even a popular forum on Reddit just for people who are worried about their elderly relatives succumbing to this strange cult.

I can relate to that. My wife and I know people who subscribe to the whole nine yards: a kind of batshit-crazy unified theory of everything which encompasses the deep state: Roswell, Kennedy, 9/11, the COVID hoax, 5G, Ghislane Maxwell/Mossad and satanist paedophiles. We converse with them on such matters in much the same way as you would with people suffering from dementia: accept their reality on that particular day, and gently try to divert the conversation.

I have to admit that I’m weakening. Over the past couple of days both our email accounts have fallen over – hers on her IPad, mine on Outlook. Yet mine works fine on Apple devices and hers is OK on Android. Our collective mood is bad enough when her email goes down, because there’s nothing I can do to sort the problem. The IPad Pro is an infuriating machine as it is, all the worse when it decides not to provide you with your email. When mine goes down as well, our household becomes an inferno of imprecations, accusations and grief.

That’s the moment when I decide that someone’s got it in for us. Is it the deep state playing mind games with us in an effort to drive older people to distraction? Or is it Microsoft and Apple acting in concert? Or is it BT displaying their usual incompetence? Or is something going on that we don’t know about? Solar flares perhaps, an alien invasion, or a hi-tech version of the Chinese water torture?

Then there’s this blog. A few days after I suggested that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul should be made available both for Christian and Muslim worship, someone writing for the Wall Street Journal came up with the same idea. And a few days after I posted a piece lamenting the decline of the cartoonist’s art, the BBC came up with a piece suggesting the very same thing. Can it be that people are actually reading the stuff I come up with and stealing my ideas? Clearly I’m being monitored by that vast, interlinked, Satan-controlled fake news network.

And how is it that the choice of French cheeses in my local supermarket is so drastically reduced? Is the deep state, or Boris, softening us up for Brexit? Who is creating all these cycle lanes that are turning major arteries through London, such as Marylebone and Euston Roads, into one lane of crawling traffic, with the effect that it takes about an hour to get from the Westway to Islington? Is the Mayor of London trying to force traffic off the road because he’s being secretly funded by Chinese energy companies who want to turn half of England into a vast field full of solar panels?

As for our government, well, we all know that these days it answers to the Kremlin. What’s less known is that Putin has developed a weapon that’s accidentally turning Siberia into a fiery wasteland. To explain it away, he’s blaming climate change. The reason Russia owns half of Britain is that its elite need a bolt-hole into which it can retreat when the whole of Russia becomes uninhabitable.

There’s also an overlying theory about COVID that hasn’t yet gained traction. The big story is not that the Chinese developed it in a Wuhan lab and released it deliberately. It’s actually that the tech giants helped them do so. They did so because they knew that the virus would wipe out all face-to-face commerce. When there are no more shops and offices, all that would be left would be Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others on whom we will be depending for our shopping, our gizmos and our home-working software. The Chinese have as much to gain as the tech giants, since COVID is an opportunity to fulfil their ambition of being able to monitor and control every aspect of their citizens’ lives. In the West, of course, dark forces are in league with the tech giants to achieve the same objective.

In America, only Trump the Liberator will defeat the deep state. Here in the UK, it’s fair to say that we’re done for. It’s time to take to the hills. Or simply sit in docile acquiescence at home, waiting to see which club the deep state will determine should win next year’s football Premier League.

But enough of this nonsense. The point is that if anything goes wrong in our lives, the chances are that we can find a suitable conspiracy theory to blame for our misfortunes. And if we have the time to dwell on such matters, sooner or later we might be looking to join up the dots.

So is QAnon a cult? It would certainly seem so. Perhaps another way of looking at it is that a section of the populations of countries in which it’s gaining strength is suffering from a collective attack of paranoid schizophrenia.

Instead of voices in the head and imaginary enemies, we have the videos, disembodied voices of chat-rooms and “group enemies”. I’ll leave the question of whether there’s a second virus on the loose that’s inducing such symptoms. No doubt doctors and psychologists would have a view. But some of us certainly seem to be suffering from a strange affliction.

Alternatively, perhaps we’re in the middle of a mass psychosis similar to that which gripped the West as the first millennium drew close – prophesies, religious cults and portents indicating the imminent arrival of the second coming. That would certainly chime with the beliefs of many on the religious right. We even have a comet passing by, which, as in 1066 (above), is always a useful sign of an imminent apocalypse.

Unless the apocalypse is really on the way, in which case I shall sit in the bath with a plate of cheese on toast and await my destruction, we’ll presumably arrive at a point when we determine that the worst hasn’t happened, nor is it likely to happen, at least for now.

When their predictions are revealed to be false and their theories untrue, cultists rarely apologise. But we in Britain have a great talent for apologising (Boris Johnson excepted, of course), so I very much look forward to a new group springing up under the banner of QSorry.

I doubt if that will catch on in America, though. They’ll just move on to the next set of theories, because everything must be explained, and whatever the faithful might think, there’s nothing in the universe that “passeth understanding.”

How strange we become when we seek to make sense of the inexplicable.

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