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‘Through the looking glass’: How conspiracy theories wreck lives – Times of India


PARIS: Suddenly a cherished one turns into a stranger. A dad, a mother or a good friend misplaced to a parallel world made up of conspiracy theories and harmful fantasies destroying {couples} and households.
Some name conspiracy theories the evil of the century. Others say they’re a mirrored image of a world starved of which means. Either approach, they’re spreading quick on the web, with very actual penalties offline.
A discussion board on the US web site Reddit gives a glimpse into conspiracy misery.
QAnon Casualties, launched in 2019, counts greater than 150,000 members whose family members imagine in QAnon, an extremist motion claiming that former US president Donald Trump has been main a secret warfare in opposition to Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
The visibility of QAnon — which has by no means produced proof for its claims — bought a lift when some of the motion’s members had been in the crowd that attacked the US Capitol in January.
The Reddit discussion board’s members provide one another assist for coping with folks near them who subscribe to outlandish claims, with hostility in the direction of Covid-19 vaccinations now excessive on the record of subjects.
“My mother has gone full QAnon. I have baby-stepped around the issue, but it’s gotten out of hand,” stated one consumer.
“My family has been ripped apart by Q insanity,” posted one other. “I can’t talk to my two younger brothers at all because they’re literally obsessed with Q and adjacent nonsense about vaccines, the election, etc..”
The motion takes its identify from “Q”, believed to be a former US senior official near Trump who posted cryptic messages alluding to conspiracies on social media.
People with conspiracy believers of their lives are sometimes reluctant to come back ahead, feeling ashamed at an uncle who believes that the Earth is flat (a “flat-earther”), or a husband who threatens to disown his youngsters in the event that they put on facemasks to guard in opposition to Covid-19.
A French retired instructor, who recognized himself solely as Yves, stated he was shocked when an outdated good friend posted “the pandemic is bogus” in a WhatsApp group.
Yves advised AFP he’d identified the man for 50 years “and we’ve often had lively debates, but never, never have our views of reality been this far apart”.
Conspiracy theories normally unfold when folks really feel that they’re being lied to, stated Marie Peltier, an writer and knowledgeable in the subject.
She stated the 9/11 assaults in 2001 had been instrumental for modern conspiracy theories, amplified by social media, whereas extra just lately Covid-19 had develop into a focus.
“Conspiracy theories offer an explanatory software that designates the heroes and the villains,” she stated. “That’s a big part of their success.”
French bookseller Paul — not his actual identify — nonetheless finds it exhausting to come back to phrases with how his mom, fearful of a second coronavirus lockdown, left her dwelling late final summer time to affix a person who had purchased a whole village in Bulgaria to deal with a group of French folks wishing to flee restrictions at dwelling.
“My mother has become completely inaccessible. She has gone through the looking glass to the other side,” the 48-yr outdated advised AFP.
Even earlier than her departure, she lived like a recluse and “spent an incredible amount of time online, looking for answers to her rage against the injustices of the world”, Paul stated.
From backing the far left in the Seventies, together with terror assaults dedicated by the Red Brigades group, Paul’s mom moved to the far proper — “with Putin as a screensaver on her PC” — and joined a bunch denouncing alleged Zionist plots.
“The lockdown was the last straw and Covid confirmed all her theories about the end of the world,” he stated.
Pascale Duval, spokesperson for French anti-cult affiliation Unadfi, stated believers in conspiracy theories usually undergo a triple break from society.
“First, a person will completely modify their values and their identity to mark their loyalty to a community. Then they will cut themselves off from their core environment making dialogue impossible, and finally they break with society,” she stated.
Duval stated that behind each cult motion there’s a “political project, or at least a societal one”, saying excessive varieties of New Age beliefs present in some private improvement, yoga or vegan circles might function gateways into conspiracy theories.
QAnon’s strategy is marked by “the hyper-aggressive way these beliefs are shared, and the disconnection that happens when the loved one doesn’t want to go down the Q rabbit hole,” stated Mike Rothschild, a author whose e book “The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything” is to be printed subsequent month.
Sometimes folks make their approach again into the world they left behind, perhaps after instantly noticing that one thing of their newfound theories would not fairly gel, stated Rothschild.
“That opens the door for further questioning, which usually is the start of a long and painful process of realising how wrong they were,” he stated. “But it’s rare so far.”

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