The surreal case of QAnon: LARP got out of control turned into Psychological Operation? Part-1
For more than a year the debate around the American right has been monopolized by a mysterious account that, since October 2017, has made its appearance on 4chan, one of the web platforms preferred by followers of the US ultra-right. The account in question, simply signs Q since he made his first appearance on the web, it became famous with the nickname of QAnon. In a few months, QAnon has invaded Twitter, Facebook and blogs all over the world, including Italy, with delusional pro-Trump conspiracy theories, becoming the protagonist of very active communities and discussion groups. QAnon theories are so absurd and confusing, to suggest that at the origin of everything there could be a Live Action Role-Playing (LARP), got out of control and turned into an articulated and studied psychological operation (PSY-OP). What is certain is that those who conceived it, put on a powerful semiotic game with formidable viral skills. So powerful as to have played a role in the action of what the network has immediately renamed the #MAGABomber, Cesar Sayoc, as well as in the massacre in the Pittsburgh.
The semiotics of QAnon: an Italian origin
Psychological operations are nothing new of the digital era, during the Cold War they were a fundamental instrument for actions aimed at influencing opinions, emotions, attitudes and behaviors of an adversary, exploiting their ethnic, cultural, religious or economic differences, in order to weaken. Mutatis mutandis, political communication in the era of Digital Transformation has inherited the psy-ops, even amplifying its scope and effectiveness, but with a substantial novelty: the risk of losing control. What revolves around the phantom QAnon, has the making of being a psy-op started with a given objective, perhaps even for play (a LARP in the jargon of the network), then escaped control or maybe exploited by someone else for seconds purposes.
At the origins of everything there is most likely a reworking of two key novels of Italian fiction of the eighties and nineties, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco and Q by the bononian collective Luther Blissett. Professor Eco, a great scholar of global conspiracy theories, passed away a few years ago, and therefore unable to confirm, on the contrary, the bononian collective, now renamed in Wu-Ming (that mean “anonymous” in chinese), has admitted the remarkable contacts and similarities between his literary creature and the imaginary QAnon.
The history of Q, widely documented and explained by the interviews released by Wu-Ming to various media outlets, see for example the interview with Buzzfeed or the widely documented articles that appeared in the Daily Beast, and Motherboard Vice, not to mention those in the mainstream press, are not very different from the conspiracy theories that preceded it. However, unlike these it appears even more viral and dangerous. The anonymous source Q Clearance Patriot, which has begun to spread “revelations”, is instigating the civil war virus in the online debate. The message of Q is a call to arms aimed at the Patriots, like Cesar Sayoc, to take up arms against the deep state, or like Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh against the Jewish lobby. A deadly mix, such as to endanger the democratic hold of a nation in which many firearms moving freely and anti-establishment sentiments proliferate.
Q and all the Patriots who in a few months have begun to proliferate on the web, in the US but not only, are working to help POTUS Donald Trump, in the an unending struggle engaged against the “Deep State”, ie the set of apparatus and agencies controlled by the Democrats and the hostile wing of the Republican Party, committed to sabotage the presumed effort of the president to bring the government into the hands of the dèmos, the chosen place of this dispute is the web. Twitter in particular for months is flooded with accounts related to the “revelations” of Q, whose messages bounce around the web, change and grow in significance, gradually taking on the most absurd and magmatic forms of a plot so large, to be able to bring anything and everything.
For those wishing to get a direct opinion of the phenomenon it is sufficient to log in to Twitter and search through the hastags connected to QAnon, for example: Where We Go One We Go All (present on Twitter in the form #WWG1WGA), or #FollowTheWhiteRabbit, #TheGreatAwakening and of course the famous Calm Before The Storm (#CBTS). Millions of tweets, likes and interactions, many in favor of the theory, others against, some simply intrigued. If it is a game, then it is out of hand, if it is a psy-op, then the volume of interactions shows that it has been successful and the measure of this success depends on the quantity and quality of the chaos entered into the system, as well as the level of violence that is increasing…
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