1."Like many, I have that one uncle. He strongly believes that COVID was a hoax to put trackers into everyone's arm. He refused to get the vaccine (and/or wear a mask) in order to attend his own mother's funeral in 2021. When Jan 6 happened he posted on FB that he was mad he wasn't able to afford a plane ticket to go, cause he wishes he could have been there for the 'revolution'.
"When I finally saw him for the first time in five plus years he went off on how I was a dumb liberal women. I'm too stupid to understand politics and women should not be allowed to vote. All women should be at home taking care of kids and obeying husbands.
It's so sad. My mother said he was super smart as a kid but married into a super weird family and his whole personality/belief system changed. If there is a conspiracy theory, he will believe it."
2."Former co-worker’s parents went full-on QAnon. They have burner phones when they travel, they think the vaccine changes your DNA and you won’t go to heaven, they believe Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization even though their daughter is married to a Black man, they hoarded food before the last election because if Biden got elected it would be the end times, etc."
"Their daughter is a freaking saint and still tolerates them. I’m not sure how she does it. I’m still mad at my sister for voting for Trump in 2016 because he was 'the lesser of two evils.'"
3."My cousin 100% believes Trump won. Believes he's going to win in November. Believes that being gay is horrible and abortion at any time/instance is wrong. Wants immigrants out and wants the government to quit offering welfare to people. We grew up close but in the last few years have drifted from each other because of our differences. I try to talk some sense into her but she goes on these long rants and I'm just tired of hearing it."
"My mom is also, but not as bad. She was the worst during COVID, sending me links to new podcasts and articles saying how C-19 was government-created and is their plan for population control. She's gotten better as its blown over but there was a time there when I'd just ignore her texts because I never knew what she was going to say. Again, [there's] no reasoning with her if I tried."
4."Ex went FAR down the QAnon rabbit hole. Pizza-gate, baby-eating, adrenochrome harvesting, the whole nine. She'd been into Strawman Theory (which was fun to explore for me, but I came to my senses) for a while, but COVID exacerbated the problem. She finds this guy via YouTube videos who claims to be Post-Master General for THE WORLD and he created a way of writing called Quantum Syntax Grammer to circumvent and negate ALL written contracts globally. Fast forward to eight months of us going back and forth with me saying it's all nonsense and that she would get thrown under the jail if she ever attempted to use this rationale in an actual court."
"There were other factors involved, but she had a nervous breakdown, claimed this guy was communicating with her telepathically in the 'astral' realm, they were having an 'etherical affair,' he was controlling her body, resulting in her being sent to a psych ward after trying to ram herself into the walls of our living room. Lastly, she tried to dive head first through our glass fireplace screen. I had to catch her mid air and throw her onto the floor with all of my strength (I'm 6'2" 280lbs, she's 5'1" and 120lbs) while EMS was on their way. I still have PTSD from trying to keep my then-wife from killing herself."
5."Had a good friend for almost 20 years. We bonded over our shared appreciation of hip-hop, stand-up comedy, and strip clubs. We supported each other in good times and bad, and then the Cheeto happened. We disagreed, but different political ideologies alone weren’t enough to end our friendship. In fact, I kind of enjoyed talking with him to understand some of the thinking on the other side and I didn’t mind that he thought I was naive or that some of my ideas were 'stupid.' He’d started falling down the far-right rabbit hole so far that he believed racially fueled crimes were on a massive uptick after George Floyd and BLM…so he happily became an active member of the then lesser-known group The Proud Boys."
"We still spoke, although less frequently, because I genuinely wanted to bridge the gap and understand what 'logic' he was following. I’d cite news that I found on wire services to avoid him claiming 'fake news' and kept hoping that he could source something other than some random dude’s YouTube channel for the 'truth.' Spoiler alert: he couldn’t. Then, after months of this madness, he called me, not my ideas, 'stupid.' I hung up right then. I wasn’t going to tolerate batshit absurdity and blatant disrespect. Months passed and he called again…and believing that time heals all wounds, I picked up. He sounded squirrelly on the phone as he wanted to speak in person…because he’d been in DC…in January…on the 6th… because he’s a 'fucking patriot' and was afraid someone might have been listening….And while I miss the old days, that was waaaaaay too much for me. We haven’t spoken since."
6."My mom is deep into the QAnon. Everyone thinks it's silly, but she is truly unhinged and it's dangerous. She wouldn't follow COVID protocols and her mom got COVID and was hospitalized for a long time, but survived. When the vaccine became available, she wouldn't let her mom get it. She had a heart attack this last October, and my mom refuses to believe there is a connection. She is a retired NICU nurse. She also had friends die of COVID (none died of the vaccine, but she swears it's bad for you) She also suddenly doesn't like brown people, and thinks they are all illegal. My dad is a brown South American — she had four kids with him, she sponsored my cousin when she immigrated to the US, and several others, and she did her mission in South America. She knows Spanish. She came with me once to drop my kid off at school and said in a disgusted tone, 'ugh, there are a lot of Mexicans here.'"
"I told her that hurt me, and she didn't care because she did the same thing a year later. I tried so hard to talk to her but she refuses to believe anything but her QAnon, alt right, propaganda. I show her proof of how she's wrong, I will remind her all the times she was wrong, but she refuses to believe anything else. it's scary how delusional she is, like she isn't my mother. I'm afraid she is going to attack someone, give all her money to a scammer who's 'saving the children' or ingest something deadly because she thinks it's better than vaccines. Everyone thinks I'm overreacting over her beliefs but she literally drank hydrogen peroxide in front of me because she was feeling like she was getting sick. I don't think I'm overreacting over her delusional political beliefs."
7."My family is in the south of Spain. These are my uncles and aunt, my mom’s siblings. They’ve never left home and never had a job, and are in their fifties now, so they’ve always had their issues, they’ve always parroted my grandpa’s very outdated views, but it remained ‘conservative’ and at least not totally racist and unhinged. Then, a combo of the pandemic and more far-right parties emerging (a Nazi part named Vox) have made them go balls deep into the QAnon rabbit hole (while in Spain!). They say COVID is fake, and all vaccines are bad, things about 5G (while being addicted to their phones), and even stuff about pizza pedophiles or how Trump will save them all (again, while never having left Spain)."
"At first, I would try to reason with them, especially my aunt who has a heart transplant. I know she used to love and trust her doctors, so i asked her what do they say. But she just changed the subject. I’ve told them that Trump would not like them because they are tan and Hispanic, and I’ve showed them the racism that I’ve endured in the US, the stuff they say about Hispanic people. They just go blank and move on. I’ve had a baby since then and have just refused to see them and let them see my baby until they vaccinate. I told them it’s their choice, and if they trust some rando online more than me, even if it hurts me, it’s their decision, just like it is my decision to protect my baby. I am sad, frustrated and at times bewildered by the wild shit they say. The cognitive dissonance is just too much for me. I mean, they were vaccinated as kids.
They are very isolated and bitter, and once my remaining grandparent passes, I have no idea how they will survive, but since I know they would hurt someone who is LGBTQ or a minority, I really don’t care anymore. I grieve, but it is more for the family I could have had, and no amount of grief will make me give them a pass or forgive them unless they do a 180 in their views. In Spain, the majority of the population did vaccinate and wears masks when needed, so they are really outcasts by their own choosing, but since their FrEeDoM is more important, i hope they enjoy it. It does mean I’ve lost a big chunk of my already small family, but I cannot compromise my baby’s health to cater to their bonkers, hurtful views. At this point it isn’t even just the vaccine but the sexist, racist, homophobic shit they say. I don’t want my baby to be exposed to that."
8."My sister did rely on science, climate change, had common sense, then moved to North Dakota, found God, became a maga person, found QAnon, spread hate to our Jewish family...as they put it, she went full Hitler on us. She has fallen for just about every conspiracy theory out there. She is convinced that everyone who has gotten the jab is going to turn into zombies and die. She really believes this stuff. She is scared and angry. All of Trump's enemies are her enemies — that's her mother, her son, her granddaughter and me...that's okay, we will all be dead soon, then they will live in Paradise. That's just a glimpse in her mind. There's brainwashing, but this seems to go farther than just simple brainwashing. How do you get this many people to believe batshit conspiracies that are beyond rationale?"
9."It started with my friend being dubious about the speed of the COVID vaccine, saying it was unsafe. Then it became that 'They' had always had the vaccine because 'they' created Covid in the first place. 'They' were using COVID to control the population because we had to rely on the government and Big Pharma to keep us safe. Then it turned into 'the vaccine makes people think they're trans'. We were both at a party in December where he repeatedly and deliberately referred to a trans friend by the wrong pronouns, and we haven't spoken since."
10."I haven't lost her yet, but my mom is into this type of thing. She really believes in the ice wall and the earth being flat. She says all the astronauts are liars. She also thinks she has parasites ... and she tells us to do cleanses for them also. I can't talk to her about any normie medical thing because she will start ranting about some far-right conspiracy. I think she still judges me for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It makes me sad because she really is better than this."
11."I lost my grandma to the MAGA cult. She used to be this really kind person who knew everyone is different and believes different things. But ever since COVID started she's been completely different. She says that the vaccines have microchips that track you and COVID was just for population control, the BLM movement is BS and that 'all lives matter, not just African Americans,' and that trans women are 'saying that they are trans just so they can play against the woman and be better than them because they aren't good at their sport.'
"I love her, but she needs to learn that the world has changed and she needs to be respectful of people who aren't far-right weirdos. I am a part of the LGBTQIA++ community and I haven't been able to come out to my family (who are a bit like my grandma, but not as bad as her) in fear of being disowned and kicked out of our family home (I've been at home for a few months because I've been trying to find an apartment after college) because of her wild beliefs."
12."Best friend for 15 years. She was always a little kooky but I liked that about her. Her dad was a conspiracy theorist but she usually rolled her eyes at his zany nonsense. But after Trump’s election, the #metoo movement, and COVID, she went full QAnon, and instead of not taking her father too seriously she began believing every word he said. Would send me 'info' from the most bonkers websites and did very little research beyond what was being fed to her from him. We were in our forties!"
"No big blow up or falling out, we just one day mutually stopped talking. It’s been about four years now. It’s weird how little I miss her. No hard feelings and I wish her well, but it became clear to me that I was putting energy and effort into a relationship that was no longer positive. No clue what she’s up to now."
13."Sad and angry that I lost my best friend to the QAnon stuff during COVID. We’d been so close for 10 years and I loved her deeply, she was more than a sister to me. But she fell so deeply into the conspiracy hole that I no longer knew how to talk to her. Actually, it was impossible to talk to her because she was so consumed by all this stuff. COVID wasn’t real, some worldwide Cabal was eating babies, demons were living under the earth in big tunnels and feeding off humans and creating toxic fumes that was actually the real covid, microchips, Trump coming to rescue the world, the ‘happening/awaking’, calling me a sheep because I didn’t believe..."
"It was so scary and so hard. Gradually I stopped phoning her/picking up because I couldn’t handle it. And then I called less and less because I didn’t know what to say, or how to broach the subject to talk about it. To this day she thinks it’s because my SO doesn’t like her (not true) and I don’t want to hurt her by telling her the truth. Plus she started changing her mind about some of it and denied saying some of it.
I sporadically called her after lockdown finished, but she also stopped picking up or returning my calls, so I got to the point where I decided to wait for her to call me. Anyway, it’s been so long now, I can’t remember the last time we spoke and I guess it won’t be any time soon."
14."My parents both retired during the pandemic and started spending way too much time alone and online. They went from being reasonable, caring, educated people to questioning everything and everyone. They texted my brother and I that we needed to be careful because people were running red lights because of solar flares. They’ve come up with all these weird theories about municipal water and the poles flipping and climate change being worsened by the liberal agenda. Now they’ve sold their home close to the rest of the family and bought a house in the middle of nowhere in a small city in Utah where they will be more alone and spend more time on Facebook and will only further alienate themselves from their kids and grandkids."
"They didn’t even buy an off-grid-capable house, it’s got an HOA and is on city water and sewer, and they can’t even have food gardens or animals with the HOA restrictions…Their old house had more capabilities of being self-sustaining, so the whole thing really baffles me. And they bought it mere months after my partner and I spent every penny we had and bought a house close to them, at their insistence that 'family sticks together' and a 40-minute drive was 'too far away.' And now they’ll be a seven-to-eight hour drive from us. At least our kids won’t be poisoned as frequently with their conspiracy theories, though!"
15."Not QAnon, but much earlier. Early 1990s. A formerly intelligent friend of mine who was bright enough to teach himself to play guitar in two months, suddenly started spouting the most ridiculous bullshit I've ever heard. Fake moon landing, chemtrails, illuminati, and/or lizard people. (Could someone please tell me why these crackpots have to steal movie plotlines?) The things that really killed our friendship was his insistence that George H.W. Bush was going to throw a switch somewhere and ignite the planet Jupiter into another sun at the turn of the century/millennium to demonstrate the power of the new world order/illuminati/lizard people."
"For a couple of years, he didn't even know that the century/millennium changed at midnight January first 2001 so he had to adjust his timeline. The really bad thing about this is that when I would point out the obvious flaws in his insipid theories, he'd treat me like I was an idiot. He has no friends now, is completely unemployable, and thinks that this is because 'they' are out to get him. Thank God 'they' took his guns away. Our state doesn't have red flag laws."
16."My father has always been a Republican but he was always reasonable and more to the middle. As an example he was pro-choice and made that clear to me, his daughter, when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, a few years ago he moved down south, he’s become isolated and only seems to engage with people who hold conservative beliefs and people who believe in conspiracy theories. For example, one of his closest friends didn’t want to get the COVID vaccine because he thought babies might be born 'with bones for wings' and other mutations. I’ve had to go no contact with my father and it’s just really sad. I’ll be honest, after spending a lot of time trying to understand what’s happened to him, it does seem like he’s acting from a place of fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of people who are different from him, fear of being alone."
"The truth is, these groups provide a real sense of belonging, yes the beliefs are wild, but it gives people a group, something that helps them feel connected to other people, sometimes it even makes them feel special, like they know something the rest of us don’t know. That being said, watching someone who really should know better (meaning someone well educated and who has access to resources to help him learn/make an informed decision) devolve into basically madness, it’s just incredibly sad and, of course, scary. Sadly there’s nothing I can do and I just had to stop trying because you can’t fight fire with fire and you really can’t ignore the absurdity."
17."Once Trump got elected and it became somewhat acceptable to 'grab her by the. . .' and make fun of people with disabilities, my boyfriend turned into a complete jerk to just about everyone except for his few right-wing friends. Every argument we had somehow devolved into how tired he was of pandering to the 'woke left' and the 'libtards' and he's just going to 'tell it like it is.' I ended up leaving him, he lost almost all of his friends, and his son hates him."
18."My father-in-law and step mother-in-law have had a QAnon sticker on the back of their vehicles for nearly four years, since COVID and lockdowns started. At that time, we lived a few hours away from them, and only communicated via texts and phone calls. My husband and I were venting about how wild things were then, when there was no toilet paper, masks were suddenly required, social distancing was born, most things closed down, etc. We were speaking from the general viewpoint of, 'Wow, this was all really unexpected,' and were met with responses like, 'it was planned by the government, they're turning frogs gay, and Donald Trump is a victim.' We kind of brushed it off and figured boomers would be boomers. But once restrictions started getting lifted and we finally went to visit them, we realized how deep they were into the far right belief system."
"I made the mistake of mentioning issues I was having with Fibromyalgia, and my MIL told me that it was from the 'chemicals' that the government puts in food, and told me to drink diluted borax. I wish I could say things have improved, but I spent this last Christmas watching videos that 'prove' that the moon landing was fake and used as a front for the US government to launder money. At this point, I just nod and smile to hide the fact that I'm internally screaming at their blatant gullibility."
19."My grandmother’s neighbor, let’s call her Anne, is very far right/conspiracy theorist. Her son is a sort of prominent member of a very far-right party in our country which has an unhinged guy for a leader (if you’re interested, his name is Thierry Baudet and he has openly admitted he believes in lizard people and supports Russia in the war on Ukraine). Anyway, my grandmother is a very sweet lady who has a very big heart and is also really trusting (and therefore a little naive) and the number of times we (her grandchildren) had to explain to her that what Anne says about things is just plain bullshit is just wild. One example: my grandmother is at a higher risk of COVID because she had several lung infections in the past. We encouraged her to take the vaccine and one day she said she didn’t want to take it anymore because she is worried that it will break down her DNA because it is an RNA vaccine."
"My sister and I had to explain to her that it is not the case and it is not how RNA works. We had a very hard time convincing her but in the end she believed us. The wild thing here, my sister is already a doctor and I will be a doctor in a few years and yet our grandmother takes the advice of a random senior who has no medical knowledge whatsoever over the advice of her own grandchildren who are already working in the field. The same goes with AI and all the conspiracies Anne told her about. I followed classes about data science, deep learning and AI, yet she is trying to explain to me how governments are using AI in very unrealistic, almost magical ways to get control over civilians. Just to clarify, my grandmother is not at all a conspiracy theorist and is not far right, that is what makes it so messed up. The people who are, like Anne, are so caught up in their world and the conspiracies they hear about, they are able to transmit these kind of thoughts to other innocent people who have no interest in these stories at all. That is how dangerous the whole situation and polarization is."
20."Growing up, my dad and my mom never talked politics — all I knew was my mom was a Republican and my dad was a Democrat. Honestly, (IMO) they were never really super interested in it. I started taking an interest to politics in my early twenties, voted for Obama, and later found out my dad did too. My mom and I were going through a really horrible rough patch in our relationship, but my dad and I built such an amazing bond, and it was really cool to have similar beliefs and views as my boomer generation father. Fast forward to Trump years, and suddenly my dad changes his party to Republican (full transparency, he was two years into an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but to this day is still very much mentally and cognitively sound). Then all logic went out the window."
"Topics we used to agree on turned into enormous, heated arguments. He still mocks me for being a Democrat any chance he gets. It’s wildly frustrating. To actually have to argue over the legitimacy of the COVID-19 pandemic was my breaking point, where I had to distance myself."
21."I had been best friends with her for 20 years. She was the only person in the world I was really close, too. Our daughters were born five days apart and they became best friends too. She was my family. Until she jumped on the MAGA bandwagon. It started when I had decided to have my daughter get the HPV vaccine at age 11. She started sending me all this anti-vax propaganda, and said I was harming my daughter by having her get it. I myself had contracted HPV from my ex-husband and had to have a surgical procedure. If I could prevent that from happening to her, why wouldn't I? That had opened the crack. Then came the 2016 election. At first she didn't even want to tell me that she was voting for Trump, and when I tried to have an honest conversation about what she saw in Trump she refused to talk about it."
"I tried to see past it because I didn't want to throw away 20 years of friendship over an election. Her and her husband became big evangelicals and moved to Texas, where they only became more extreme. Her husband, who was actually a youth pastor, was posting all sorts of extreme right conspiracy theory stuff every day. Her own posts weren't as bad but they were still pretty far out there. When the COVID pandemic started, we hadn't talked in awhile and she sent me an email going into theories about the end times and how she was praying for me. I was done. She had fully drank the kool-aid and it was clear there was no coming back from this. She's been blocked ever since. I wish things had turned out differently. My daughter and I both lost a best friend."
22."My ex and I remained good friends after we broke up. He’s such a great guy. He takes such good care of his mom and niece. He’s the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back. So when I told him I got the vaccine, I was shocked when he went off, saying it was a government conspiracy, and that he lost respect for me since he used to think I was a smart guy who wouldn’t fall for something like that. It’s so hard for me to talk to him now, and it’s so difficult to reconcile the wonderful person I know him to be, with the wild conspiracies he spouts to anyone who’ll listen. It just makes me so sad."
23."Great group of women. There were seven of us. Every Saturday morning we’d meet at our local YMCA for boxing. We’d have coffee, get together during the week. One girlfriend went down the conspiracy hole. One of the last times I saw her and her husband, they were telling me the 'Democrats' sent someone to the school in Texas to shoot it up. Something about gun control. We never had an argument and she didn’t push her beliefs down my throat. I just slowly pulled away after that. I really miss those times before COVID."
24."One of my family members changed dramatically after getting married. One result of those far-right changes is that she refuses to get the COVID vaccine. She's had two kids since 2020 (both unvaxed) and is pregnant again. Because i'm seriously immunocompromised, I will never get to meet those kids."
25."One of my cousins. I used to be really close with him until he pulled some bullshit back in 2020 which I won't get into or else my comment will be even more of a novel. I found out from my mom, because I want absolutely nothing to do with him, that at one point in time, he refused to get the COVID vaccine, because he fell for the 'The vaccine has a chip in it for the government to track you' conspiracy theory. He also posted some disgustingly racist things on his Facebook after George Floyd was murdered (I also found this out from my mom), forgetting that he has two cousins who are half-Black. 🙄"
26."Cut off my Trump-loving, racist, 90-year-old gaslighting parents four years ago. The best decision of my (and my wife’s) life. The amount of hatred and nonsense they spewed for decades got worse as they aged (and exist in the Fox weirdo world). They have tried to gaslight us through other family members, and we have all contact blocked. Should have rid ourselves of these poisonous people decades ago."
27."It happened before COVID, around the time of all the Mueller Report hearings in 2019 — or at least that’s when it became noticeable. So noticeable that I was inspired to co-author a journal article related to the issue (published in September 2020). Naturally, the family member has gotten deeper into the far right ideology since, having discarded all previously-held values. 😔It’s a very, very painful issue. It’s not safe to reason with the person because they are prone to angry outbursts when met with differing opinions and/or experiences."
28.And finally, we'll end on a somewhat positive store: "My aunt has a biology degree from a liberal arts college, and yet after spending way too much time on Facebook from 2018-present, now she’s a strong QAnon anti-vaxxer. We all live close together and have a family dinner at least once a week, and after the initial battle of 'get vaccinated so you don’t kill your immunocompromised niece and 90-year-old-parents,' we just ignore it and change the subject. She eventually got two COVID shots, one for each of her parents’ birthdays, but won’t get any boosters or ever wear a mask. And even though my grandparents (her parents) are quite conservative, whenever my aunt brings up wild shit, they just change the subject."
"It’s actually worked super well and everything always stays peaceful and civil! Even with disagreements over the Hamas/Israel conflict, each side can state their argument, agree to disagree, and then move on. Often it’s sheer ignorance on one side, and we’ve had some good conversations about why the other side feels the way they do. It really shows that when you all agree you don’t want to fight, you can peacefully coexist even when one side is super far right and another is super far left."
Does anyone have any stories about bringing somebody back from their alt-right beliefs and conspiracy theories, or being brought back yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.