Friday, July 17, 2020

Coronavirus Update 7-17-2020: It’s a scary world at there, and I’m not just talking about the virus

I thought it was an innocent enough tweet.

And then came the replies.

These are just a few of the hundreds of people who took time out of their day yesterday to share their thoughts with me. (I'm ignoring the ad hominem attacks on me or my last name.) Many of them are devout followers of QAnon.

QAnon started out as a groundless conspiracy theory centered around an unnamed individual (or individuals) known as “Q.” Purportedly, “Q” started posting anonymous messages on online bulletin boards such 4Chan as early as 2017, claiming to have credentials and top security clearance. These so-called qualifications make the person's cryptic posts about national and worldwide conspiracy theories, referred to as “breadcrumbs” or “drops,” sound credible to QAnon followers.

Among the theories, QAnon claims that former special counsel Robert Mueller was conducting an investigation of former President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and others, for various actions they have taken as part of a global conspiracy. None of the theories have been substantiated, and all have been largely debunked by various media outlets.

Its baseless theories also now encompass COVID-19, by claiming that the deep state created the virus to indoctrinate us through compulsory vaccinations or by wearing masks, or that it implanted 5G antennae in the face masks we are forced to wear in public. It's all nuts, but it's also quite scary because a lot of people believe this, some of them are running for office this year, and some of them will win. Think of it as the Tea Party but in tinfoil hats. We're not just fighting the virus, but also a vocal minority who believe that it's part of a wide-reaching conspiracy to take down President Trump and control our lives.

Stay safe, be well, and believe in science. It's what ultimately will save us, whether some of us like it or not.