Believers in the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy have waited years for the storm to come.
But on Jan. 20, 2021, as Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, many of these conspiratorial Trump supporters were finally met with a dose of reality: Perhaps, the storm wasn’t going to come after all.
“Well, I’m the official laughing stock of my family now,” read a comment from one true believer in a QAnon chat.
Things aren’t looking pretty in the QAnon group chat pic.twitter.com/jvVM8td2s9
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) January 20, 2021
Since 2017, QAnon believers have followed the vague online posts of an anonymous internet user called Q. They’ve waited for their hero, now-former President Trump, to begin mass arresting his political enemies — also known as “The Storm.”
Prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites, they believed, would be unveiled as cannibalistic pedophiles running a global satanic child trafficking ring. According to QAnon, this would lead to a Great Awakening. The world would suddenly know the truth about the evils Trump was up against, and the QAnon faithful would be vindicated to family and friends who didn’t believe in Q.
QAnon’s believers would continue to kick the can down the road believing that they misunderstood and the next big date would be the one for President Trump to pull through.
But here, at the very end of Trump’s presidency, it’s hard to kick the can any further down the road. Inauguration Day has presented the conspiracy theory with a dead end. Trump is no longer the president, and he no longer has the power to do any of what QAnon expected of him.
Up until the very moment of Biden’s swearing in as President, the QAnon faithful held out for Donald Trump to appear and for the mass arrests to begin. There would be a blackout, they believed, orchestrated by Trump and during that time Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, et al would be arrested by the military in one fell swoop. After all, why were there so many National Guard members at the inauguration? It surely couldn’t be because of the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol two weeks ago. (It was.)
A comment seen on 4Chan.
Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able,” said major QAnon booster Ron Watkins. Watkins is the former administrator for 8kun (formerly known as 8chan), the imageboard where Q disseminated his posts.
“As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years,” he conceded.
QAnon is banned on many major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter so many of these users shared their thoughts on right wing forums and Telegram groups. And on those sites, QAnon believers appeared to be in total disarray.
“Q was a LARP the entire f—-ing time.”
“There is no plan.’
“It’s over and nothing makes sense… absolutely nothing…” pic.twitter.com/I2k8C7708m
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 20, 2021
Anger, disappointment, confusion — QAnon followers feelings on Biden’s inauguration ran the gamut.
While this event may finally cause some diehard believers to break away from the cult, there are signs that QAnon will continue to be a problem.
For one, some people are simply in too deep to back out.
Others will no doubt go on believing that The Storm is still just right around the corner. Prominent members of the QAnon community, for example, are now claiming that Joe Biden is part of Trump’s plan after some sort of deal was cut between the two.
The QAnon influencer who was moving the goalposts earlier this morning is now claiming Biden has been part of QAnon all along. pic.twitter.com/z7bCi1FsXP
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) January 20, 2021
But there is a more concerning road many of these QAnon believers may take, one with much more far-reaching consequences. Extremists on the far right and white supremacist groups are viewing the QAnon fallout as an opportunity to further radicalize QAnon believers and bring them into their ranks.
If there was ever a time to reach out to QAnon-believing family and friends, this might be your last opportunity before they fall into a rabbit hole that’s even more nefarious than the lies perpetrated by Q.