Voices: My mom got sucked in to QAnon – I can imagine how it happened to Marjorie Taylor Greene

Marjorie Taylor Greene had amplified conspiracy theories linked to QAnon  (Getty)
Marjorie Taylor Greene had amplified conspiracy theories linked to QAnon (Getty)

My mom has always been a bit alternative and into doing the opposite of whatever the rest of society is up to. When I was a kid, we were vegan and didn’t eat sugar or processed foods. I remember all the other kids at school trading different parts of their lunches and nobody ever wanting to trade with me.

Then she joined a network marketing company that sold health supplements. She thrived at it because she was willing to talk to literally anybody about it, even random people seated next to her on a plane or a waiter while he was trying to take her order. She told everyone that these natural products could cure pretty much any disease but the FDA wouldn’t let them say that because they were “in bed with all the pharmaceutical companies”.

Then came all the health gadgets: foot baths, balance pendants, crystal wands, Jade mats, psychic pendulums, lasers. She wholeheartedly believed in it all and wanted to help everybody she could. When we were on a family trip in Belize, some men broke into our place in the middle of the night and stole my phone and stabbed me with a kitchen knife. As I was airlifted to the hospital, bleeding on to the floor of a small plane, I just remember my mom placing a bunch of violet lasers all over me.

My mom was always very anti cell phones. She wore anti EMF blankets to protect her from the radiation waves, she made me put my phone on airplane mode when I was around her. She even helped organize local protests to try and block new cell phone towers in our area. Eventually she realized she needed to get one for emergencies mostly, and ended up getting addicted to it almost immediately. She now watches YouTube videos from the moment she wakes up in the morning until she is lying in bed at night.

At first, she’d say things like “I don’t know if I believe this, but I saw this thing about how Michelle Obama might be a man named Michael. I don’t care if it’s true or not, I just thought it was interesting.” That slowly turned into her telling me she knew people who were trafficked by the Democrats, and when I’d ask her who they were, she’d say, “Well I don’t know them personally, but I’ve seen videos of them online.” And then just a few months later she was saying things like “Donald Trump is my personal hero and a true patriot who is fighting all the powerful pedophiles.”

At first this transformation came as quite a shock to me. But she did venture onto these sites already armed with a strong mistrust of our government, as well as a penchant for silver bullet solutions to some of life’s more complicated problems.

In a way, the QAnon message is one of hope. It says that no matter how bad things seem right now, it’s all a part of a bigger plan, and everything is going to be okay in the end. And I think that feeling of comfort, as well as the rush of always uncovering more information is what keeps her coming back day after day.

A good friend of mine recently had steroid-induced psychosis that lasted for a few months. He described how euphoric and amazing it felt to have his brain make a bunch of complicated connections and to finally feel like everything made sense for the first time. He ended up doing a lot of work to get himself out of it, and one of the key things was to accept the fact that he didn’t know almost anything. And then he was back. Maybe that’s what we all need to do.

I was heartened to hear that Marjorie Taylor Green recently backed away from the QAnon conspiracies that she had embraced in her career. When asked about QAnon conspiracies on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz, she said, “Well, like a lot of people today, I had easily gotten sucked into some things I had seen on the internet”. If she was truly able to make it through to the other side, then there is truly hope for anyone.

After I recovered from the stabbing incident, I heard that the doctor who had helped get me on the plane in Belize that he didn’t think I was going to make it. Was it the lasers my mom put on me that saved me? I guess I will never know for sure, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

Sean Donnelly is a filmmaker and animator whose documentary about his mother can be found here.