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We have been friends with a married couple for years, though we haven't seen them much lately. We both homeschooled but our kids are all grown. Our dd who is friends with one of their daughters told me that they have fallen down the Q rabbit hole. They are in deep. I am so disturbed and sad.

I'm not wanting to discuss the conspiracy theory or politics here. I just don't understand how this happens to otherwise intelligent people. We were thinking of reconnecting with them but now, I don't know. 

If you've had family or friends get involved in a conspiracy theory, how did you cope? Did you try to keep up the relationship? Did you listen to them talk about the craziness or was that off bounds? 

I'm grieving the loss of the friends I once knew and don't know if it will ever be the same again.

 

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It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

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4 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

Interesting...  I hadn't thought of it like that.  That does make some sense.

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Posted (edited)

I have a few close relative who have fallen down some conspiracy stuff.  I love them and still enjoy their company but I do not put up with their rants about conspiracy stuff.  If they are at my house and it is a civil conversation I will just leave the room and allow it to continue.  If it becomes a heated conversation I ask them to change the subject, if that makes them double down I'd ask them to leave and come back when they can have a civil conversation again.  It has never gotten to the point that I've had to ask anyone to leave.  And most of them do not even discuss their conspiracy stuff around me anymore because they know I won't tolerate it.  We are back to nice non crazy convos but to get there I had to set clear boundaries and stick to them.

Edit to add:  I also acknowledge that my families mental health history is a key indicator that we are more prone to get sucked into conspiracies and I have to allow a lot of grace with my relatives because I'm a fortunate one that was not plagued with the worst of our family's mental health issues.

Edited by hjffkj
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21 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

This is a very thoughtful response. Thank you.

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16 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

That's a good explanation. I think my friends are trying to make sense of (what they perceive as) the scariness. Of course the cult bubble just magnifies that. 

Another woman (more of an acquaintance) is also deeply into this. She's divorced with grown kids and I think she's trying to fill up something inside. I think it makes her feel important that she has "inside information". After she posted something particularly hateful on FB I called her out in a private message. She responded that she'd been researching for YEARS and I probably hadn't so I just didn't realize. Poor PrairieSong. A while later I unfriended her because she would not stop the hate and nuttiness, and I'm not close to her anyway.

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16 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

 

If you've had family or friends get involved in a conspiracy theory, how did you cope? Did you try to keep up the relationship? Did you listen to them talk about the craziness or was that off bounds?

 

I tried to just keep things normal, and to continue in the same vein.  We did not talk about anything conspiracy related. In our case, our friends are a couple, and so the wife and I were able to continue for quite some time by ignoring the obvious Q hole that her husband had, maybe predictably for him, fallen into.  We did not see each other in person, but both worked hard at maintaining normalcy with frequent texts and calls, mostly joking and keeping updated on kids.  

This shifted at the beginning of the year, and contact became more one sided on my part, until after months of one-sided contact … I’ve gotten the message that our friendship is over.  The husband had stopped all contact earlier, maybe last summer we noticed that he no longer waved if he saw us out, and things became chillier through the fall and winter.  Maybe I should have known it would happen with the wife, but it hit me hard around April, when it was blatantly obvious, and I’ve really grieved.

We ignored the Q stuff, in part because after reading a lot on the topic, I felt doing so was the best option for us to maintain a relationship.  It didn’t work, but honestly our friendship may have been doomed from the moment the Q hole opened up and swallowed her DH.  It’s hard to say.

OP, I’m so sorry you’re facing this.  It’s been a very painful experience here.  I miss our friends, and it feels almost unreal to think this has caused such a rift. 

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If you really liked the couple and enjoy your time with them, then I’d attempt to remain friends.

I wouldn’t talk about Q stuff, though. I’d make it very clear that those topics are off limits.

The reason that I would remain friends with them would be two-fold:

1. If I liked them, then I’d enjoy my time with them.

2. I wouldn’t want them to be so isolated in Q-Land that they forget that people not in Q-Land aren’t the enemy. I’d want to be a normal presence in their lives, so that at least on some level they’d have to realize that not everyone who is Anti-Q is the enemy. If you remain friends with them, they have not know that you are not the enemy. This might one day help them back away from Q-Land, if they see that rational, reasonable, kind people who aren’t as radical as Q aren’t the enemy.

I’d make it clear that I disagreed with them, but that I didn’t want to talk about it. 

And then the ball’s in their court. They might not want to be friends with a sheeple.

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36 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

Oh wow, that would be so hard to see and deal with.  I don't think there would be a way I could stay friends with them when they are in the Q hole.

I might try, maybe through texts at first. Not sure yet.

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9 minutes ago, Spryte said:

I tried to just keep things normal, and to continue in the same vein.  We did not talk about anything conspiracy related. In our case, our friends are a couple, and so the wife and I were able to continue for quite some time by ignoring the obvious Q hole that her husband had, maybe predictably for him, fallen into.  We did not see each other in person, but both worked hard at maintaining normalcy with frequent texts and calls, mostly joking and keeping updated on kids.  

This shifted at the beginning of the year, and contact became more one sided on my part, until after months of one-sided contact … I’ve gotten the message that our friendship is over.  The husband had stopped all contact earlier, maybe last summer we noticed that he no longer waved if he saw us out, and things became chillier through the fall and winter.  Maybe I should have known it would happen with the wife, but it hit me hard around April, when it was blatantly obvious, and I’ve really grieved.

We ignored the Q stuff, in part because after reading a lot on the topic, I felt doing so was the best option for us to maintain a relationship.  It didn’t work, but honestly our friendship may have been doomed from the moment the Q hole opened up and swallowed her DH.  It’s hard to say.

OP, I’m so sorry you’re facing this.  It’s been a very painful experience here.  I miss our friends, and it feels almost unreal to think this has caused such a rift. 

Spryte, I'm so sorry this happened between you and your friends. How awful. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Garga said:

If you really liked the couple and enjoy your time with them, then I’d attempt to remain friends.

I wouldn’t talk about Q stuff, though. I’d make it very clear that those topics are off limits.

The reason that I would remain friends with them would be two-fold:

1. If I liked them, then I’d enjoy my time with them.

2. I wouldn’t want them to be so isolated in Q-Land that they forget that people not in Q-Land aren’t the enemy. I’d want to be a normal presence in their lives, so that at least on some level they’d have to realize that not everyone who is Anti-Q is the enemy. If you remain friends with them, they have not know that you are not the enemy. This might one day help them back away from Q-Land, if they see that rational, reasonable, kind people who aren’t as radical as Q aren’t the enemy.

I’d make it clear that I disagreed with them, but that I didn’t want to talk about it. 

And then the ball’s in their court. They might not want to be friends with a sheeple.

I think about #2 a lot. I don't want them to be isolated from everyone else who is not in Q-Land, and I'd like them to know that even if they choose not to remain close now, if they ever change their minds in the future, that door is open.

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Posted (edited)

Seeing friends and relatives get swallowed up by conspiracy theories might be the most disturbing and bizarre thing I've lived through.  If they're people that were already a little hard to tolerate, then I'm fine quietly keeping my distance.  But several of them are people I've always really enjoyed and cared about very much.  So, I try and stay involved in their lives...  I guess partly with the hope that they might someday see that I'm a nice and thoughtful person who cares for them but doesn't believe in conspiracy theories, and they might begin to wonder a little...  Who knows.  There are a couple of those people with whom I've been able to have short but civil conversations about conspiracy theories from time to time.  Others I know to avoid those conversations completely, and if they brought them up I'd probably just keep changing the subject.

I will say that most of these people I don't actually see in person too often due to the pandemic and us living a distance apart.  I'm not sure how it would play out if we lived right near each other and/or saw each other daily.  

Edited by J-rap
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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

Spryte, I'm so sorry this happened between you and your friends. How awful. 

 

Thanks, it really does sting.  
 

I’m still holding out hope that we will reconnect at some point, but I think DH has given up.

Edited by Spryte
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43 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

I agree but would add that it can happen when people have been emotionally traumatized and unsupported, not just emotionally unfulfilled. So there can be deeply painful and traumatic emotions involved. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Spryte said:

Thanks, it really does sting.  
 

I’m still holding out hope that we will reconnect at some point, but I think DH has given up.

I wonder if this will eventually fade away or at least weaken after predictions keep failing to come true? Yet there is another date set when it WILL happen. "Trust the plan."  But after many months or years?? I've seen stories of people leaving and talking about their experiences, so I will hold onto hope.

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2 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

I wonder if this will eventually fade away or at least weaken after predictions keep failing to come true? Yet there is another date set when it WILL happen. "Trust the plan."  But after many months or years?? I've seen stories of people leaving and talking about their experiences, so I will hold onto hope.

That’s my hope, too.  Our friends live on our street, so I hope, too, that they will thaw with small, friendly interactions (we still wave and try to be friendly and caring).  
 

 

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Personally, I would walk away--though I will admit that I am quick to cut off people ever since my ex-husband broke my trust. I have a sort of no-tolerance policy for B.S. 

I don't have the time to deal with people who refuse to think rationally and are outright belligerent to me and my opinions. And I really do not try to rock the boat, either. For example, before Q I was friends with a couple with completely different political views. We would meet weekly for lunch and it was generally pleasant. I avoided bringing up politics. But the husband in the other couple made a point to bring up politics in a baiting way. I eventually stopped going to lunch with them because he refused to pick up on the fact that we didn't want to go there.

Now, with Q, it wouldn't be "eventually," it would be immediate. This is a new level of conspiracy, deception, and belligerence. 

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I think it happens because of lack of trust in mainstream information sources.  Some of the conspiracy spreaders have gotten very good at making lies look like truth.  It's not a small time operation after all.  You can say there's a conspiracy behind the conspiracies.

What I do when someone indicates that kind of belief is that it's hard to know what to believe any more, and I've been getting all my news from ___ (a middle-of-the-biases, still-relatively-respected source).  Beyond that, there's not much to do.

I don't dump friends and loved ones over mistakes.  They will figure it out sooner or later.  Or they won't.  It doesn't change who they are.

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18 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

I wonder if this will eventually fade away or at least weaken after predictions keep failing to come true? Yet there is another date set when it WILL happen. "Trust the plan."  But after many months or years?? I've seen stories of people leaving and talking about their experiences, so I will hold onto hope.

Research into doomsday cults has shown that they an amazing ability to rally when the world doesn't end when they say it will. They will say their preparations prevented the end from happening, pat themselves on the back, and carry on until the next doomsday. 

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Just now, SKL said:

I don't dump friends and loved ones over mistakes.  They will figure it out sooner or later.  Or they won't.  It doesn't change who they are.

I would argue that it does change who they are. They transform into awful, bitter people who attack people with different beliefs out of nowhere.

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I guess I should say that I have close relatives who have fallen for various other conspiracies - temporarily - over the decades.  I still like the people.  We can agree to disagree.

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2 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

I would argue that it does change who they are. They transform into awful, bitter people who attack people with different beliefs out of nowhere.

Not in my experience, but I am sure there are some who spiral downhill ... and maybe Q isn't the underlying reason, but just a symptom ....

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I only personally know one person who is completely into Q with all of the craziness that goes along with those beliefs. But I know many more people who are Q adjacent. Most of them don't realize the connection between the things they believe and Q. These are people who spent years listening to alternative media and right-wing propaganda. They didn't wake up one morning believing that the election was stolen. It started much smaller than that. I just heard that some people we used to know, who are well educated, aren't getting the COVID vaccine. I know they've been deeply influenced by right-wing media over the years. I don't think it was a big leap for them to turn into COVID deniers and vaccine refusers when they were steeped in that endless us versus them for years. 

 

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1 hour ago, Tanaqui said:

It's like joining a cult or being in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anybody, no matter how smart you are, because these sort of things are things you do when you are emotionally unfulfilled. People fall into these rabbit holes because the conspiracy theory helps them deal with uncomfortable and painful emotions. It allows them to make sense of a sometimes scary and confusing world, and even can give them a support network.

This is interesting. I know someone who had a harsh step dad and a very hands off mother. In the last few years, he’s gone further down the hole. He now believes a weird theory …something about the government being able to flip a switch and cause death to all who received the vax, as population control measures. Anyway, most people with emotional trauma don’t end up this way, but maybe getting into conspiracies could be a factor for some. I’ve never thought of it that way.

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This will sound flippant, but I don’t know how else to word it and it is *not* flippant advice.  My mil gets sucked into political conspiracy stuff, too.  What I find that has worked for our relationship (and we do still have a good relationship), is that I have perfected my RBF (resting bitch face).  When I display that, usually as she starts trying to “subtly” slide into conspiracy mode, the RBF blocks any more sliding.   (I know that sounds flippant.)  but the facial expressions work without me having to actually say anything and make the situation awkward.     It’s an easy natural deterrent for us.   Of course, ymmv.  

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39 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

I would argue that it does change who they are. They transform into awful, bitter people who attack people with different beliefs out of nowhere.

This is what I’ve observed with the one person I posted about above. They had always been highly opinionated and always had a chip on their shoulder. Would be quick to anger and easily ticked off. Personally, I’ve been through my own stuff, and, because of that, I don’t have the energy for this in my life. This person is someone who isn’t pleasant to be around. 

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1 hour ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

I don't have the time to deal with people who refuse to think rationally and are outright belligerent to me and my opinions.

I agree. But I guess I would try to be more understanding if they weren’t bitter and mean, and if there could be some sort of relationship.

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49 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

This is interesting. I know someone who had a harsh step dad and a very hands off mother. In the last few years, he’s gone further down the hole. He now believes a weird theory …something about the government being able to flip a switch and cause death to all who received the vax, as population control measures. Anyway, most people with emotional trauma don’t end up this way, but maybe getting into conspiracies could be a factor for some. I’ve never thought of it that way.

Wow, hadn't heard that.

Thing is, if there really were a Thanos figure looking to adjust population to fit global resources / climate capacity by simply killing them off... he could do it that way, OR he could wait until half the world were vaccinated and then unleash a fast-spreading variant (call it: Delta) to finish off the unvaccinated.  The Q-predicted way, the Sheeple get snapped, the other way (call it: science) the Resisters get polished off by natural-looking causes. Which type would Thanos prefer in a world he controlled?

Once you posit a Thanos figure as both real, and a counterforce to the power of Q, it seems to me that the Choose Your Adventure decision tree shifts rather dramatically.

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1 hour ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

I would argue that it does change who they are. They transform into awful, bitter people who attack people with different beliefs out of nowhere.

My experience is that many of them were already bitter people who attack others with different beliefs but those beliefs have shifted enough to no longer guard me from their rude side.  So, really they didn't change, just the dynamic of our relationship changed.

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Posted (edited)

I have a couple very close family members who fell down the Q Conspiracy rabbit hole. Our relationships are close enough that I just tell them they are in a cult of bullshit, I have no reason to listen to their opinions that I did not ask for, and I hope they are able to escape some day, but today please change the subject. Basically we agree to disagree and are not afraid to call each other idiots, but do move on.
 

The only friend I have that fell in was mostly just an acquaintance at this point, so while I feel sad for her, I don't feel a loss of relationship. I say Hi when I see her in public, just as I always have.

The majority of my family and friends remain in the neutral/sane zone. Some chose to vax, some didn't, some I have no idea. None of them shove their reasons down anyone else's throat.

Edited by fraidycat
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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I only personally know one person who is completely into Q with all of the craziness that goes along with those beliefs. But I know many more people who are Q adjacent. Most of them don't realize the connection between the things they believe and Q. These are people who spent years listening to alternative media and right-wing propaganda. They didn't wake up one morning believing that the election was stolen. It started much smaller than that. I just heard that some people we used to know, who are well educated, aren't getting the COVID vaccine. I know they've been deeply influenced by right-wing media over the years. I don't think it was a big leap for them to turn into COVID deniers and vaccine refusers when they were steeped in that endless us versus them for years. 

 

I think this is pretty accurate.

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I have friends with all types of beliefs and ideas, many that are different from my own.  I would not want to get into constant, prolonged, heated discussions regarding conspiracy theory.  But, I have friends who are deep into conspiracy theory and we have meaningful conversations about many other things.  Occasionally, conspiracy theory topics come up; they are not heated or pushy--sometimes I think what they are saying is totally bizarre and I feel free to question them and tell them why I don't agree with them; the conversations also enlighten me as to what they really think or believe and where they are getting their information (which is sometimes different from what the media portrays it to be).  If conversations became pushy and rude, I would change the conversation and if this occured repeatedly then I would limit contact because it wouldn't be enjoyable.  At the same time, I have some friends who are so aggressively anti-conspiracy theory that I have to walk away from conversations because they are being rude and unpleasant.  So, I would not choose to spend time with someone based upon their beliefs and ideas but how they communicated and interacted. I have also had friends who have surprisingly turned 180 degrees.

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8 hours ago, Pam in CT said:

Thing is, if there really were a Thanos figure looking to adjust population to fit global resources / climate capacity by simply killing them off... he could do it that way, OR he could wait until half the world were vaccinated and then unleash a fast-spreading variant (call it: Delta) to finish off the unvaccinated.  The Q-predicted way, the Sheeple get snapped, the other way (call it: science) the Resisters get polished off by natural-looking causes. Which type would Thanos prefer in a world he controlled?

Once you posit a Thanos figure as both real, and a counterforce to the power of Q, it seems to me that the Choose Your Adventure decision tree shifts rather dramatically.

The Q/Thanos theory reminds me of a conversation I had with 21yo ds. He'd heard of Q but didn't really know much about it.  After I told him what I knew, he said, "Wow, that sounds like a really bad comic book."

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12 hours ago, PrairieSong said:

The Q/Thanos theory reminds me of a conversation I had with 21yo ds. He'd heard of Q but didn't really know much about it.  After I told him what I knew, he said, "Wow, that sounds like a really bad comic book."

This made me smile this morning. You've raised an awesome human!

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We dropped a LOT of friendships over the past two years.  The number of conspiracies that were promoted by people we loved was just astounding.  We circled up.  Our first duty is to protect our kids. Our second is to protect ourselves.  Our third is to stand for people with no voices. Some of these conspiracies were actually dangerous to us.  Some were harmless to us and dangerous to others.  We had to make a choice: are these people going to listen to reasonable information?  If yes, we shared our POV.  If not, they were cut loose from the rope to their own echo chamber. I can't save people from themselves.  I can only hope they eventually come to their senses.

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