Ashley Vanderbilt, 27, has broken her silence to share how she became so indoctrinated by the extreme right-wing conspiracy that even her four-year-old daughter Emmerson knew ‘something was wrong with her mom.’
Before getting caught up in QAnon, Vanderbilt said she was passive with politics, didn’t read the news and had always been someone ‘that you just tell me what to do and I do it.’
She said she had always been a Republican as she grew up being told to be and was a Donald Trump supporter but ended up so far ‘down the rabbit hole’ she started viewing him as being above God.
She said only realized that she ‘wasn’t 100% there’ after Joe Biden’s inauguration when she called her mom and told her ‘we’re all going to die.’
The 27-year-old placed part of the blame on Donald Trump for pushing his agenda on ‘fake news’ and for not denouncing QAnon – the debunked extreme right wing conspiracy theory that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles are plotting against him and are running a global child sex trafficking ring.
Vanderbilt is now speaking out about her experience on TikTok in the hope others can learn from what happened to her.
A South Carolina mom not interested in politics has revealed how she was lured into QAnon conspiracy theories on TikTok when she lost her job during the pandemic. Ashley Vanderbilt
Ashley Vanderbilt , 27, (pictured) has broken her silence to share how she became so indoctrinated by the extreme right-wing conspiracy that even her four-year-old daughter Emmerson knew ‘something was wrong with her mom’
Vanderbilt told CNN she was first introduced to QAnon on TikTok as she spent an increased amount of time online after losing her job in the office of a construction company near the start of lockdown.
She said she usually followed entertainment accounts on TikTok, but started watching pro-Trump and anti-Biden videos in the run-up to the election.
Such content quickly took her further toward content spewing QAnon conspiracy theories.
Vanderbilt then started being targeted with more content of this type through TikTok’s algorithms, she said.
‘I didn’t know they were conspiracy theories,’ she said. ‘I just thought they were telling me something no one else knew.’
TikTok told CNN content and accounts promoting QAnon are banned on its platform.
She said she started reaching out to friends who were also Trump supporters asking them if they had seen the content and they would then send her more videos on Facebook and YouTube.
The 27-year-old’s obsession escalated and she was soon spending hours every night on various social media channels learning more about QAnon.
‘I just went down this rabbit hole learning all this stuff,’ she said.
‘What have we heard the last four or five years? Don’t watch the news. ‘Fake news.’ ‘Fake news.’
Vanderbilt said she didn’t watch the news or read newspapers but ‘was always that you just tell me what to do and I do it.’
‘I grew up being told we were Republicans, so I’ve always been that straight red ticket,’ she told CNN.
Vanderbilt is now speaking out about her experience on TikTok in the hope others can learn from what happened to her
THE QANON CONSPIRACIES SHE IS NOW ‘UNLEARNING’
- Before the election: That Trump would win by a landslide in the presidential election.
- When Biden won: That on inauguration day, the Democrats, Hollywood celebrities in attendance and some Republicans would be arrested and held in Guantanamo Bay. The military would run the country ‘because the left were too unhinged’ and then Trump would come back.
- After the inauguration: That the US would be owned by China, ‘we were all going to die’ and ‘they’ would take her daughter so she should pull her from school.
Vanderbilt, who credits her faith for helping her escape QAnon, said she was spending more time involved in online conspiracy theory forums than at church and asked herself: ‘Am I putting even Trump above God?’
Even after Biden won the presidential election, Vanderbilt said she didn’t expect Biden to be sworn in on inauguration day but that the Democrats would be rounded up and arrested – the theory doing the rounds among the QAnon circles at the time.
‘I expected a blackout. I expected the TV to go black and nothing to work so we wouldn’t see anything,’ she said
‘So the assumption of what would happen would be that most of the Democratic leaders there, quite a few of the Republican leaders, all the Hollywood elite that had attended they would all be arrested.
‘The military would haul them off. They said that Trump opened back up Guantanamo Bay and then the military would run the country, put it in martial law because the left were too unhinged and they were a danger to us and then Trump would come back when the government was rebuilt.’
She added: ‘I know it sounds crazy.’
When Biden’s inauguration went ahead as planned, she said she went into ‘panic mode’ and planned to pull her daughter out of school.
‘When President Biden was sworn in, I was just crying. I mean, I couldn’t stop, like, that ugly cry that you do. It just kept going. And I was like, oh, my gosh. Like, I’m seeing the funeral of our country. And instantly I went into panic mode,’ she said.
Vanderbilt said she called her mom and told her: ‘It’s like we’re all going to die. We’re going to be owned by China.
‘And I was like, I might have to pull my daughter out of school because they’re going to take her. I was scared to death.’
‘I wasn’t one hundred percent there like I should have been,’ she added.
Vanderbilt said her mom tried to reassure her it was ‘God’s will’ to have Biden as president and not to take her daughter from school.
The QAnon believer said she finally realized it was a conspiracy when several parts of the theory’s ‘master plan’ came to fruition and so theorists kept changing the plan.
The theory had already spouted that Trump would win the election and then that he would halt Biden’s inauguration.
When that also didn’t happen, some supporters said Trump would instead return in a few weeks.
Vanderbilt cited a number of factors that led her down the ‘rabbit hole’ including that she was ‘super depressed’ and ‘isolated’ after losing her job in the pandemic.
But she believes if Trump had denounced QAnon she could have escaped it sooner.
Vanderbilt said she was passive with politics and didn’t read the news and had always been someone ‘that you just tell me what to do and I do it.’ Pictured the QAnon Shaman who was among the MAGA mob rioters that stormed the Capitol
Vanderbilt believes if Trump had denounced QAnon she could have escaped it sooner. Trump often threw his support behind QAnon and its believers. He backed Marjorie Taylor Greene (pictured) the QAnon-supporting congresswoman now potentially facing expulsion
QAnon flags and symbols were also widely seen among the mob of MAGA mob rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in the violent insurrection that left five including a cop dead
‘I was the biggest Trump supporter there was if he would have said something and if he were to say Q is illegitimate, nothing is real in there I think some people would leave,’ she said.
Trump often threw his support behind QAnon and its believers.
He backed Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon-supporting congresswoman now potentially facing expulsion over her pushing of the theory alongside several other conspiracies ranging from school shootings to 9/11.
QAnon flags and symbols were also widely seen among the mob of MAGA mob rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in the violent insurrection that left five including a cop dead.
Vanderbilt now posts TikTok videos about her experience to try to help others escape QAnon.
In one video, she told followers she is ‘still learning’ to undo the ‘ingrained’ QAnon beliefs.
‘Those beliefs were ingrained in me as I believed them so much that I am literally unlearning right now,’ she said.