Image: Hypnotist swinging pocket watch (GETTY IMAGES: David McGlynn)
Over the last year and a half, the Qanon phenomena has gained traction with a large quadrant of the Trump supporting right-wing . This development has drawn concern from independent journalists and derision from the establishment press. In this post, I'd like to take a brief look at the "how" of Qanon, especially in contrast with information published by organizations like WikiLeaks. This op-ed stems from a conversation I had with a Q supporter a few months ago.
First, a basic contention: Qanon doesn't give information in terms of facts.
Instead, Q makes vague statements that resemble a verbal equivalent of the Rorschach inkblot test. When provided with a bare minimum of material and random input, our subconscious or personal perspective fills in the rest to create meaning and understanding. I'm not the only one who's noticed this manipulative technique in relation to Q.
The interpretation we ultimately draw from a Q post or an inkblot will be inherently different for every person that views it. In both cases, the intent is not to provide evidence: it is to provoke an emotional, personal response in the viewer.
So, what's the problem with this? An inkblot isn't manipulative. Subjectivity is not negative or harmful by itself. The problem arises when subjectivity is confused with fact.
It is the conflation or equivocation of subjectivity with evidence that can become a method of psychological manipulation: when the meaning gained from subjective material is given the same evidential weight as factual evidence. In such a scenario, there is no objective fact at all, as everything is questioned. That "the sky is blue" becomes a matter of perception rather than fact. This consequence can be witnessed in the statements made by both Q supporters and Russiagate proponents.
For example, a random near-year-old Q post is pictured below. Rather than viewing the post as a puzzle to be deciphered, I see it, and Qanon in general, as the swinging pocket-watch or metronome of a hypnotist. It sucks people in and mesmerizes them out of critical thinking by melting reality and facts into infinite non-tangible possibilities.
Aside from linking a tweet by WikiLeaks, the post contains zero factual information. Instead, it contains a series of nonfactual and largely senseless statements. "Q followers" and "Q skeptics" can agree on one simple point about this post and posts like it: there is no factual evidence communicated by the post in and of itself. Any meaning drawn from it requires personal interpretation.
The end result of the search for meaning from Q posts like the one above is large-scale pacification, inaction, indecision, and the inability to differentiate reality and evidence from postulation and theory.
In contrast, the evidence published by WikiLeaks is totally free from interpretation, as it consists of 100% primary source material. WikiLeaks publishes no narrative, no interpretation, no subjective opinions: only raw data. This can render WikiLeaks releases inaccessible and remote, but it also places it at the opposite end of the information-spectrum from the Q narrative (Or Russiagate).
By presenting incredibly vague statements, the reader is left to create full meaning from their own inner world, in the same way that an inkblot test requires the viewer's subconscious to become intelligible, having no inherent meaning by itself.
In my unprofessional opinion, this is why Qanon's readers become insidiously interlocked with Q's postulations - precisely because it is their own subconscious that must act and fill in the blanks in order to interpret any post. Over time, some might feel that the invalidation of Qanon is an invalidation and an affront of their sense of self, and react harshly to any questioning of the Qanon persona.
Where does "Q" end and the mind of the reader begin? There is no factually defined, evidential boundary between the two. In the world of the blot-test, hypnotism, NLP and Q, all is subjective, reality is malleable.
A common refrain on the left that echoes this effort to meld all of reality into subjective meaninglessness, would include now-forgotten calls from Russiagaters to "wait for the Mueller report." This required the same shedding of critical thinking and logic that "trusting the plan" does.
Some readers may reply: "But cable news is fake news! The MSM hates Qanon, so that means Q must be legitimate." In fact, we saw just this argument recently posted by Jordan Sather on Twitter in response to statements made by Caitlin Johnstone. Sather posted:
A "logical" response to such a sentiment is to point out that legacy press is not the only source of propaganda narratives, and that the fact that a topic is scorned by MSM is not evidence that the narrative is valid.
Yes, much of the content amplified by mainstream press™ is absolutely in service to plutocracy-friendly propaganda narratives.
However, as independent journalism and connectivity on social media has loosened the shackles of the American public from a few easily controlled establishment news sources, the unelected power structure has no doubt worked to seed clearly visible propaganda narratives from within alternative media spaces.
This is likely to have occurred not simply amongst alternative journalism, but generally alternative platforms, especially via alternative venues, which have gained both market share and a reputation for rebelliousness. The chan image boards are a perfect matrix for such narratives to be seeded while appearing anti-establishment.
The fact that corporate media attacks the Q narrative is not evidence that Q is legitimate, it is simply the combined effect of two propaganda sources reinforcing their credibility with their respective target audiences.
The Q-narrative gains credibility amongst some aspects of the alternative social media audience by being attacked. The legacy media simultaneously gains credibility by mocking tin-foil theories as "other," appealing especially to a certain flavor of intelligentsia that considers themselves better educated and above manipulation because they have a subscription to the New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, or listen to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
Finally: I've chosen not to reproduce a chronology of the myriad examples of Qanon has been factually debunked, as the issue has been thoroughly covered elsewhere. I learned via participating in the factual debunking the Russiagate propaganda narrative(s) that factual refutation does not counter a narrative that is fundamentally non-factual in the first place, and is instead based primarily on personal meaning and faith.