Few could have predicted that a single letter of the alphabet would cause such controversy within society and mainstream media over the last few years.
The seventeenth letter of the alphabet, also known as “Q” has definitely had its moment of television fame in recent years, with the most recent being the storming of the U.S. Capitol on the 6th of January, 2021. However, the media has not covered the conspiracy group since then.
Despite losing media coverage, Q has gained a multitude of supporters over the years. Its supporters align with right-wing ideologies and believe that President Trump would uphold his promise of “draining the swamp” of corrupt politicians. While everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, some may think beliefs such as this are quite perplexing and concerning.
Ella Filippi '23, who is co-president of the Republican Club here on campus, stated these types of beliefs “would not put a good taste in America’s mouth.” Q has not convinced everyone that they are a real threat however. Some students here at Saint Mary’s believe Q is nothing more than a joke. An anonymous student said they thought Q was “just a meme...didn’t think it was real.” These conflicting opinions lead to Q being disproved as of late. Even despite this, Q created an infectious ideology that many could not help but be optimistic about.
While mainstream media ostracized Q and its supporters, they are no different than other concepts. This is especially true for the people associated with ProjectCensored.org. Project Censored educates society about how imperative the free press is all while exposing news censorship. The people of Project Censored believe an “informed public is crucial to democracy.”
However, not all news is created equal. Supporters of Q have been portrayed as a domestic threat thanks to social media. Mr. Huff, director of Project Censored, stated that followers of Q “are people that are disaffected.” One cannot blame people for believing what Q claimed due to how alluring it all was. When people lose trust in public institutions, many latch on to ideas that seem “more explanatory than the truth,” Huff added. In recent history, it’s common to see people seek outlets to escape from society and drama. When it comes to students here at St. Mary’s, not many go down rabbit holes Q has burrowed and for good reason.
It has been just under nine months since the storming of the State Capitol. Many people have moved on and prefer to figure out their own life rather than worry about an organization that may have been behind the insurrection. For some St. Mary’s students, Q is an unfamiliar topic. It is “something people really shouldn’t have to worry about” according to Smith ‘23, a junior and president of the Republican Club. While Smith did admit he did not know much about the movement, he went on to say that followers of Q “like to challenge authority and the status quo.”
Of course, social media played a major role in them being identified like this however not everyone buys this narrative. As mentioned prior, people associate these individuals as more of “internet trolls” than a real threat.
Mason Konrad ‘22, Vice President of Collegiate Sales Society, believes that they are “ridiculous…neglected guys”. When the average person hears this, they may wonder why social media gave them a platform in the first place. Sadly, social media loves division. In regards to January 6th, Huff stated that the media has “a frenzy with this kind of stuff.” Media is going to cover what is relevant. They need topics that will bring in viewers.
Huff concluded his statement by saying that “media divides...and keeps us focused on things that shouldn’t technically matter.” Media is useful to society however, the reins of power have been abused. When it comes to Q, social media immediately carved up the right and left. They achieved this goal depicting QAnon followers as belligerent conspiracy theorists rather than just a group of people with similar, odd beliefs. This is to no surprise though as there are many theories and ideologies Q proposes. According to Oscar Gonzalez (2020) at CNET.com, followers believe “Trump is working to remove Satanic criminals inside the government, the Democratic Party and Hollywood” (paras. 58). This accusation was and may still be one of the more prevalent theories in their arsenal, however this is just one of the many they give credence to.
Other hypotheses such as a flat earth, Hollywood pedophile rings, and anti-vax claims are all concepts that many Q supporters believe. Some went as far as traveling to Dallas, Texas on November 2nd to witness the “apparent” return of John F. Kennedy Jr. who died in a plane crash in 1999 (Gonzalez, 2020). What they expected to happen if he came back is anyone’s guess. Regardless, these individuals do not seem like a threat but more so a group with a lot of time on their hands.
According to people at St. Mary’s, no one really knows if Q is an apparent threat or not. What they do know is that it is not something to be concerned with in the present time. It seems as though followers of Q are still just looking for an escape. While some cannot fathom that President Trump did not “drain the swamp,” people can sleep soundly knowing they are just a group with similar beliefs rather than extremists.
Melanie Moyer '22,