• Nthato Tlhakudi

Virtual Cults

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

Ever since the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, a wide range of conspiracies have emerged, sparking various theories that have led to the fight being turned away from battling the virus, and instead, battling over the virus’s very existence. The spread of these conspiracy theories have led to certain citizens underestimating the impact of the virus. Various resistance movements against public health safety mandates have resorted to taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

(Jelinger, 2020).

Multiple conspiracy theorist groups have been reported to be responsible for the rise of dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories. Over the course of the pandemic, various conspiracy theorist groups such as QAnon and StandUpX have gained traction and have been seen enlisting large amounts of recruits into their ranks.

QAnon is a conspiracy theorist group that first started 3 years ago. In its early stages the conspiracy was nothing more than a series of posts on a message board by an anonymous user, whose followers later bestowed the user with the pseudonym “Q”. With its recent growth in followers, who call themselves “believers”, the group has expressed anarchic sentiments, as virtually anybody can create a conspiracy and tag it with QAnon hashtags. The conspiracy will then spread like wildfire, leaving nobody accountable for the damage and mayhem left in its wake.

QAnon conspiracy theories are mainly targeted at politicians, businesses, and celebrities who they claim are associated with paedophilic activities. One of their claims that has recently picked up steam is that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is leading a top-secret investigation to arrest all members of the higher social class for their involvement in corruption and child abuse.

StandUpX is a another conspiracy theorist group, who like QAnon are also rapidly gaining members. Unlike QAnon however, whose contradictory claims mainly focus on ensuring paedophiles don’t escape justice, StandUpX mostly protests Covid-19 preventative measures implemented by the government, as they believe they threaten their democratic rights as citizens.

StandUpX has recently made headlines, as members have been seen protesting within various supermarkets across London. StandUpX has taken a stance against the implementation of 5G networks, claiming that 5G signals are not only harmful to humans, but that the government will also be using the 5G towers to discreetly spread viruses amongst the public. A member of the group explained: “At StandUpX, we all agree 5G is not good in general, but people have different opinions on its effects. My opinion is that we are electric beings, you can move your hands because of an electric signal. If you think other kinds of electrical magnetic fields and radiation aren’t going to affect you, then you don’t understand human biology.”

The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon many lives, and with the large amount of uncertainty circulating, the virus’s impact has only increased. Conspiracy groups are taking advantage of people’s need for a sense of security to bolster their numbers. With their followers blindly following and overcrowding social media with any false conspiracy they can get their hands on, they have become an even greater threat to society, becoming more than just conspiracy groups, but rather virtual cults.

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