Inauguration Day marked a strange milestone for QAnon believers, many of whom thought the day would be a set up for key Democrats, who would be arrested for running a global sex trafficking ring and Donald Trump would somehow become President for a second term in what they long called the “Great Awakening.” But when none of those things happened, and instead Trump left for Florida and Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president, the followers of the conspiracy thread were left confused, disillusioned and divided over whether they have all been tricked.
“It simply doesn’t make sense that we all got played,” one user wrote on Telegram, according to screenshots shared by Alex Kaplan of media watchdog, Media Matters for America.
Another wrote, “It’s not like Q abandoned us.”
Others attempted to keep the faith. “Anons, hold the line for a few more hours,” one user wrote. “Victory is at hand.”
But even in the early hours of Trump’s last day as president, conspiracy theories ran amok. Some believed the number of flags behind Trump as he took the stage in his final presidential speech somehow proved Q’s existence. Others claimed certain lines in Trump and his family’s farewell speech were a nod to Q, who has reportedly not been active since December.
And even prominent QAnon follower Ron Watkins, who many believed to be Q himself, appeared to abandon the theory. “We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution,” he wrote on Telegram, according to The New York Times. His message came after being kicked off Twitter. “As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years," he wrote.
The let down and disappointed believers of the untrue conspiracy theory on Inauguration Day comes after weeks of anxiety among the QAnon community, with many anticipating Trump would stage a violent coup, enact martial law or even call for the execution of top Democrats, NBC News reported.
One woman even claimed her brother called her, panicked, telling her to buy a ham radio “because we’re not going to be able to talk on regular phones and everything is going to be dark,” she told NBC News.
And as major tech companies, including their web hosting platform Amazon, cut ties with Parler, an influx of their displaced users flocked to Telegram, where militant groups were “really ready for this flood of users,” and encouraged violent radicalization, Meili Criezis, an expert in white supremacist radicalization, told NBC News.
"I've seen some Trump supporters kind of fumbling onto Telegram not knowing how to use it exactly, and it was really concerning, because it's such a huge recruitment pool,” Criezis said.