Over the last couple days, a few friends have picked my brain about what would happen to QAnon after today.
This was of course under the assumption that The Storm would not be carried out, that Trump would leave for Florida in shame, and that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be sworn in as every sane, rational human expected.
We knew this day was coming for a while, and the January 6th QCoup probably helped take some of the steam out of the Q Cult. After successfully breaching the Capitol, and realizing Ted Cruz wasn’t there to greet them, and the National Guard wasn’t on its way to arrest Democrats, and the general sense that they had no idea what to actually do once they had made it to the Senate chamber (beyond livestreaming themselves committing crimes, occasionally getting shot, and making the job of the feds who would eventually arrest them hilariously easy) set in, online Q chatter seemed to show some cracks in faith.
Maybe Q was a hoax.
Maybe The Plan was thwarted.
Maybe The Storm was a fantasy.
Maybe Donald Trump body-switched with Joe Biden and he outsmarted the Deep State conspiracy against him serving a second term by becoming Joe Biden.
All these theories were floated (and some presented as objective fact, namely that last one) on online Q discussion boards.
But doubt wouldn’t turn to disillusionment until today’s QAnon Virtual Watch Party for The Storm. There were no public hangings of Democrats. No trucks full of grateful cherubic children flooding out of secret pizza parlor dungeons, freed from the bondage of devil-worshipping pedophiles. Donald Trump was not sworn in as president. Suddenly, reality collided with fantasy in ways that even some of the Q Cult couldn’t deny. That really was Joe Biden being sworn in as president (the deep fake theory didn’t get much traction). And just like the Millerites, some 180 years ago, finding themselves unable to deny the fact that the very much non-ended world had not ended, the Red-Pilled Faction struggled to make sense of it all.
That’s where we are today. And so the question many of us are asking is what happens next.
I don’t know, obviously. But I’m willing to make some predictions that I feel pretty confident about.
One, the Q Cult isn’t over. Will it soften a little bit? Maybe. Certainly it will reform somehow. But the elements upon which it was built run far deeper than Q itself, and it’s important to remember that none – none – of the Q Drops ever bore any relationship to reality, and that never seemed to bother any of the true believers. It’s worth pointing out that Q hasn’t dropped anything since early December, and that didn’t do anything to stop the terror attack on the Capitol, at which Q Cultists had a very visible presence.
Two, it will lose followers. That’s a certainty. It already has (and not just the ones who are about to spend some well-earned time in prison, like the Q Shaman).
But the vast majority of them will, I suspect, follow the lead of the Millerites once they got over the whole non-glorious non-arrival of Jesus thing. Because many of them carried on the basic framework of Miller’s teaching in the Adventist branch of protestantism. And my guess is that the next thing we’ll see is the Seventh Day Adventist version of QAnon. They will divorce themselves from Q himself (who seems to have shrugged and gone home anyway) and instead accept the basic underlying premises of the Q Cult (Deep States, Satanic child sex rings, Plandemics, and the rest of George Soros’s and the Illuminati’s and the rest of the ChiCom Globalists’ nefarious plans to undo our pesky freedoms with healthcare and vaccines) as they tilt at windmills together as an initially loose but increasingly cohesive online coalition.
The rest will likely move one step back in the Red Pill ladder and re-up with the InfoWars narrative. InfoWars’ Alex Jones has always railed against Q as a bunch of loonies (in reality he was miffed that a competing grift that, to be fair, he thought of first, and who were taking all his vitamin-and-t-shirt money away from him). He took to calling them Q-Tards, despite the fact that the actual differences between Q’s beliefs and his own are miniscule and cosmetic at best, and that one of his most frequent and beloved guest, Mike Flynn, is basically the John the Baptist of the Q cult. And, smartly, he gave up on the idea of Trump remaining president a week or so ago, so he can do a victory lap now, and it’s likely that he’ll regain some clout with the right-wing conspiracy theorists on the fringes. Many Q Cultists will likely float between Jones and the harder-core, pilledest of the red pilled before settling on a new ideological home.
But I think the short answer is that Q has been dealt a blow, yes, but has already proven its durability, and history tells us that these sort of apocalyptic, moral-panic-driven ideologies don’t go away when facts present an obstacle. Q is here to stay, and we need to understand January 6th as an opening shot, not a Hail Mary pass.