‘We All Got Played’: QAnon followers implode after big moment never came

QAnon followers 

As Joe Biden was sworn in as president, QAnon followers finally saw their hope for the
“storm”—when President Donald Trump would bring down the “deep state” and expose a far-reaching child-sex-trafficking ring—disappear, leaving followers of the unhinged conspiracy theory in despair and searching for answers, while one of the most prominent adherents gave up.

QAnon adherents appeared to have fractured into two groups on popular far-right message boards Wednesday, with some realizing their crackpot conspiracy theory was a fraud, while others tried to somehow keep the flame of the Crazy Candle alive.

Ron Watkins, the founder of 8chan who is one of several people suspected of being the anonymous poster “Q” who spawned the conspiracy theory, conceded shortly after Biden was sworn in, telling his supporters it was time for believers to keep their “chins up” and “go back to our lives.”

Up until the final minute of Trump’s presidency, some QAnon adherents were cheering for Trump to do something spectacular, with one instructing fellow followers Wednesday morning to “pray” because the next five hours would “determine the fate of the world.” They got that part right.

That optimism unraveled for some as the day wore on, especially after Trump gave no hints of a plan to take over the U.S. in his final speech at Joint Base Andrews, with one user lamenting on Telegram that “it simply doesn’t make sense that we all got played.”

Moderators of some pro-QAnon message boards warned followers who turned their backs on the conspiracy theory after the inauguration would be banned:

Others sought to move the goalposts, picking out passages from Trump’s speech and Eric Trump’s farewell post on Twitter as signs of hope. 

By midday, a new spin to the conspiracy theory gripped the far-right message boards: Biden has been their savior all along, a twist multiple QAnon influencers threw their support behind. 

“Biden is Q” a post on the donald.win read, while others brushed aside that theory and urged believers to stick with Trump. 
At high noon on Wednesday, QAnon followers believed that Trump would announce through the emergency broadcast system that “the storm” had come, so goes the wacky conspiracy theory. Democrats and other members of the deep state would be arrested, and Trump would continue being president.

After the clock struck noon and Biden officially became president, some message boards turned increasingly vitriolic. “It’s over and nothing makes sense . . . absolutely nothing,” one user said. “He sold us out,” another believer wrote. “It’s revolution time.” Some of the big-name QAnon influencers were unswayed, however. 

“We have just witness the biggest crime ever committed in the history of the United States all on live television,” @MajorPatriot, a prominent QAnon influencer whom Trump retweeted multiple times before his account was suspended by Twitter, said on Gab, moments after Biden was sworn in.
“So far, Q believers seem to be in shock over Joe Biden actually being sworn in and becoming president,” Mike Rothschild, who recently published a book about conspiracy theories and tracks the QAnon conspiracy online, told Forbes Wednesday. 

“This type of failure was something that most of them never allowed to penetrate their minds, so to see it happening—and them rendered powerless to stop it—is truly jarring.”
Some QAnon followers believed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was part of the “plan.” When Trump opted not to pardon Assange before leaving office Wednesday, many QAnon adherents were disappointed.
QAnon message boards lit up during Trump’s farewell speech after some believers noticed there were 17 flags around the stage. The number 17 is code for QAnon followers, as the letter “Q” is the seventeenth letter of the alphabet.
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