‘Sense of significance’

“While debunking or fact-checking are valuable, they aren’t going to move someone who feels a sense of significance through absorbing and promoting esoteric but baseless theories.”

Travis View, host of QAnon Anonymous podcast, speaking to NYT’s Charlie Warzel

This is the heart of the matter when it comes to conspiracy theories and today’s distrust in media.

Two forces at play. Number one: the sense of belonging in our isolated world is a powerful force, whether it’s flat earthers, QAnon fanatics, angry “gamergaters”, whoever. Many of these people would have previously gravitated towards sports or other interest-based communities — they’re now instead finding their social needs fulfilled (in a flawed sense) by conspiratorial groups. The social web has driven “fandom” to dark places.

Number two: Once the collective filter is in place — “the media is lying to you” — every fact presented can be written off incredibly easily. Experts become the “Deep State”, opposition protests become Soros-funded. These people don’t lose touch with reality, they just put a filter on it that strengthens their own position. Whenever the media makes a genuine mistake, as can happen, the assuredness becomes even more entrenched.