As I listened over these three weeks, I saw that they’re drawn to Q and Mr

Trump for many reasons. The political status quo wasn’t working for them. Mr. Trump was an antidote to Washington and was beholden to neither party. And Q offered not just a political orientation but also a way to place themselves in a bigger narrative that explains life’s shortcomings.

Many believers have paid a price for their views

Some were shunned by friends and family. Apps and social networks, like this audio chat room, stepped in, offering a welcoming community with shared beliefs.

“I have family that think that way. I think they’re crazy for not seeing what the heck’s going on,” another replied.

Beneath the anger in their voices is often pain or confusion. When the chat dies down to just a few members, they’ll share stories about their struggles with affording health insurance or the shame of going on government assistance. Hearing them talk with one another, I could start understanding the pull of conspiracy communities – how they exploit the vulnerable and create a worldview out of shared enemies. Then you can watch those views harden.

And while none of it excuses participation in a dangerous collective delusion, it takes the complex process of radicalization and gives it a human dimension. What seemed like a preposterous descent into a kind of madness made slightly more sense.

“Not every politician is bad. Continue reading