This yoga instructor fights the rise of QAnon in the wellness community

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Seane Corn would never have thought that his duties as a yoga teacher would one day be to warn people of the dangers of an international right-wing conspiracy theory.

The Los Angeles yoga teacher is one of many high profile Instagram influencers using their platforms to fight the rise of QAnon conspiracy theory in wellness spaces.

“I just didn’t think I would have to talk about things like a cabal of people in the United States kidnapping children and drinking their blood to take power,” Corn said. As it happens host Carol Off.

“I never thought this would be a conversation I should have with my community to say, ‘That’s not true. This is not the case. Please use more judgment. “”

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that posits that US President Donald Trump is secretly fighting an international cabal of leftist elites who worship Satan and run a global child sex trafficking ring.

It tends to overlap with conspiracy theories that involve anti-vaccination and anti-mask beliefs, and has roots in anti-Semitism and white supremacy.

Once relegated to the fringes of the Internet, QAnon has recently made its way into more mainstream spaces. QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene recently won the Republican nomination in Georgia’s primary race, and the president himself has referred to conspiracy theory supporters. like people who “love our country”.

But it has also started to gain traction among people interested in wellness, yoga, spirituality and alternative medicine.

Conspirituality, a podcast that examines the links between welfare and conspiracy, has curated a list over two dozen wellness influencers who alluded to QAnon in their posts.

Corn says she started noticing it creeping into her social media feed at the start of the pandemic, with her followers using the ‘yoga talk’ and wellness brand to radicalize people online.

“The colors can be pastel. The fonts are very specific. There might be a post from someone doing yoga. The next day is their food. The next day is a style photo of life, ”she said.

“But maybe on the fourth day there will be an article that says, you know, very nicely ‘COVID is a hoax’ and then a bunch of slides that keep giving out misinformation and invite you to another link that you know. then gives more misinformation. “

“Magical thought”

For Corn, the proliferation of conspiracy theory in his community isn’t all that surprising.

“In the wellness community there are often a lot of magical thoughts,” she said.

For example, she says people can turn to crystals or prayer as a band-aid solution for problems in their life, without engaging with those problems on a deeper level.

“I think some of QAnon’s posts involve magical thinking. People are scared. Their gut tells them that something else is going on, but ‘I just don’t know what it is. I think I’m lied to, ‘”she said.

“Someone comes in and says, ‘You actually are,’ and takes them to that rabbit hole.”

Protesters hold a sign with a QAnon slogan during an anti-mask protest in Montreal. (Jonathan Montpetit / CBC)

Ali Breland, a Mother Jones reporter who covered the overlap between QAnon and welfare, agrees.

He said on CBC radio Day 6 earlier this month, wellness communities were already plagued by anti-vaccination sentiment.

“[It’s the idea that] these big, powerful interests – these external interests that are beyond us, like Big Pharma, that we cannot conceptualize, are trying to hurt our children… and we have to protect them because no one else will, ”she said. declared.

“This is QAnon’s dominant belief.”

There are many women in this community who are sensitive and empathetic. And so you bring in, you know, victimized children and you’re going to call on that part of them that wants to do something, that wants to get involved.– Seane Corn

Annie Kelly, researcher who studies digital extremism, recently wrote in the New York Times that the “ranks of QAnon are populated by a significantly high percentage of women”.

While suburban moms with yoga mats might not be the first image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of online conspiracy theorists, Corn says it actually has a lot. meaningful, especially since QAnon followers are flooding hashtags like #SaveTheChildren.

“There are a lot of women in this community who are sensitive and empathetic. And so you bring in, you know, victimized children and you’re going to appeal to that part of them that wants to do something, that wants to get involved. . ”Corn said.

Risks of speaking out

Corn, with her 100,000 Instagram followers, is trying to stem the tide by sharing posts that attempt to neutralize misinformation.

Others are also answering the call. Shannon Algeo, a yoga and meditation teacher in LA with 25,000 followers, is one of many influencers who shared an Instagram post taking a stand against the QAnon movement.

“I have a community that stands behind me, or rather with me,” Corn said. “I am not alone in this effort.”

This is the kind of position that could, at best, cost them some of their followers and income, and at worst, invite harassment and even violence.

Last week, a Texas woman was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he hit two strangers with his car. According to the affidavits of arrest, she believed they were pedophiles. Two people who knew her told the Right Wing Watch website she followed QAnon content online and sent them pro-QAnon messages.

Still, Corn says she needs to speak up. She has already done interviews with the New York Times, Rolling stone and more.

“I would feel worse if I kept quiet. It would make me complicit, and I just can’t live with myself that way,” she said. “So, I hope I’ll stay safe and we’ll see what happens.”


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview conducted by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes.


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