An insidious phenomenon is storming the world. Washington Post, The Guardian and ABC News (not The Australian ABC) have published just some among a growing number of stories about it. The story? People are losing their loved ones to global conspiracy.
I have suffered the gradual degradation of a key relationship in my life too, spurred on by their indoctrination into deeper and deeper conspiracy thinking. All too recently, I realised how many of their conspiratorial ideations lead back to the online influence of QAnon.
Here, I have curated six podcast episodes that capture the phenomenon. Each one has helped me in its own way; to understand and come to terms with the loss of my loved one to this divorce from reality. The episodes are roughly arranged in order from more human to more cerebral – choose as you will based on what works for you. I hope others can find comfort and understanding here, as I have.
My Mum Thinks The Earth Is Flat – Days Like These
From a podcast that collects incredible stories from everyday Australians, this episode couldn’t be more honest. The story centres on a journalist who discovers her mother thinks the Earth is flat – only to unearth that this divergence in understanding between them runs much, much deeper.
This episode hits hard and explores the personal impact of misinformation like nothing else I’ve encountered. I found solidarity and comfort here in understanding my loss as part of a wider phenomenon. Days Like These is an ABC Radio production presented by Elizabeth Kulas and Pat Abboud.
I provide Apple Podcast links throughout, like here, but you can find each episode wherever you get your podcasts.
Qanon Casualties – Endless Thread
I confess, I tuned into Endless Thread podcast solely for this episode, but I was not disappointed (clearly – it makes the list!). This episode is a first-hand interview with Redditor Jitarth Jadeja, who got deep into QAnon. He describes himself as a kind of addict – consumed by a constant compulsion to talk about Q. The honesty from Jitarth is stunning, and so constructive.
This episode gave me hope. Listen to it here to discover how Jitarth found his way out of the Q vortex.
The New Age to QAnon Pipeline – QAnon Anonymous
This podcast came highly recommended to me from an avid podcast-listening friend. Being personally effected by the influence of QAnon, the jovial tone of this show is sometimes a bit grating. That said, hosts Jake, Julian and Travis are an informative bunch.
This episode is of particular value because it demonstrates the online pipelines that lead from the realms of New Age health and spirituality straight into QAnon. The episode traces the online histories of three instagram influencers from pre-Q to post red pill. The transformations they experience are astounding.
Listen to the episode here.
Losing Relatives to Fox News – You’re Wrong About
You’re Wrong About is a podcast centred on retelling the stories of people or events that have been mischaracterised in the public imagination.
This episode explores the demographics, politics and psychology of the Fox News / Fake News / QAnon / ‘conspiracy theories anonymous’ phenomenon. Hosts Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall (both journalists) also discuss roads out of Qanon. What hope is there of getting through to your loved one? Their view isn’t a hugely positive one.
Unmasking Q edition – Oh No! Ross and Carrie
On No! Ross and Carrie is an old favourite podcast of mine. Both journalists, Ross and Carrie grew up in evangelical churches and slowly unfurled themselves during early adulthood. They bring to every investigation of pseudoscientific or paranormal topics a general open-mindedness and kindness, that allowed them to infiltrate scientology, join the Mormon church, participate in ayahuasca sittings, and so much more.
This episode is in discussion with QAnon expert and data analyst Joe Ondrak of Logically. They unpack the origins and complexity of QAnon as a meta-conspiracy, and talk in detail about how the soft edges of QAnon are exported via social media platforms to lefties and mums groups alike. This is a gritty episode on the mechanics of the beast.
Crossing the Abyss – Making Sense with Sam Harris
Sam Harris has become a contentious character for some on the left, but consumed through a critical lens, this podcast is invaluable. Sam Harris engages leading minds from diverse fields in often-detailed conversations about everything from meditation to social politics, economics and technology.
This episode is an interview with General Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell about radicalisation of the American Right, the storming of the Capitol, the effect of censoring social media, and more. The discussion gave me a sense of the scope and impact of Q-fuelled online communities.
You can listen to the episode here.
If you have been effected by this phenomenon and are looking for community, check out the subreddit QAnonCasualties. Be warned – it’s an emotionally-charged discussion board. People share their personal stories as ‘recovered’ QAnon followers or as loved ones now estranged from family members and friends who have gone the way of the Q. But if you feel strong enough to stomach that emotionality – and have a box of tissues at hand – there’s something to be gained.
Also note that this conspiratorial shit storm has no doubt been fuelled by feelings of helplessness and confusion, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. There is hope that the new year – in combination with important work of journalists and companies like Logically – will bring on calmer, less conspiratorial times.