My Escape From the Rabbit Hole - Pinkbunion

Pinkbunion

New Member
Escaped the Rabbit Hole for almost 2 years - after 12 years of Conspiracy Theories and Religion

Hello everyone, this is my first time to post on this forum, and I'm quite nervous about it. I fell in the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories in 2010 (not sure) when I looked up my favorite band, and the search result with the band's name and illuminati came up. I ended up on vigilantcitizen.com, got intrigued by the articles, and on it went. These beliefs were pretty much maintained until the year 2020. The escape all started last September 2020, when I watched a conspiracy theorist video that exposed the evil of the Old Testament (the creator was not Christian) and the reasons why some crazier conspiracy theories were false. So, first, I am going to relate what happened to my beliefs from 2010-2014, where it remained the same. Second, I'll discuss what I believed during 2014-2020, where there was a shift in my beliefs and I became more doubtful of some theories, but became more committed and certain of others. Finally, I'll state my beliefs from September 2020 to now, when I escaped from the rabbit hole.

My journey down the rabbit hole all started in the year 2010. I was searching for the name of my favorite band in the Google search engine. One of the suggested search results was the band's name plus the illuminati word. At the time, I laughed it off because in my mind it was too absurd. How could a music band be affiliated with a "world elite" that controls the world? However, I still clicked on it. I then encountered the website called vigilantcitizen.com, read their articles, and got intrigued by what it was all about. The first article I read, which was about the band and the illuminati, confused me because it was all new to me. However, as the months went by, it all became clearer and scarier. I also became more addicted to reading the articles and then I came to believe the theories themselves.

After 2010, some things changed. The conspiracy theorists would include Christian wording and ideas in their theories. Therefore, I included my Roman Catholic religion with the theories too. For example, theorists usually said that the elite are going to control the world and the rapture will come, and it's going to be hell for those who will be left behind. I used the Christian religion as a way of facing the grim and often hopeless picture the conspiracy theorists were painting. There were times I became more paranoid, more serious, and kind of avoidant and scared of the world, and distrustful of people around me, because of the conspiracy theories. I, of course, had no community in real life to tell this to, so the conspiracy theorists became my community. I told none of my parents or family about this, since I was afraid of the backlash.

However, it has helped me in several areas. It helped me to look deeper about subjects and events I have not cared about before, such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, economics, biology, psychology, history, world events, the importance of healthy foods and healthy eating, being compassionate and kind to others (in order to be more mentally and psychologically equipped to face the situation created by the "New World Order"), integrity of politicians and public figures, etc. Even though the conspiracy theories helped me in learning more about these subjects, I just now realized, after being out of that world, that they were mixed with conspiracy bunk, which made me feel sad and outraged that I ever believed in the conspiracy theory version of said subjects. Also, some conspiracy theorists I watched were also good writers of inspirational and uplifting messages, perhaps, in order to keep on in a world threatened by the elite. This made me even more supportive and connected to the conspiracy theory community. Right now, I regretted ever believing in such theories and in such a community, knowing it wasn't true.

During 2014-2020, I noticed that a lot of conspiracy theorists that I watched rejected religion. They despised how the church was too formulaic, too rules based and restricting. They didn't want to join Church, and instead, wanted to have a personal, individual relationship with Jesus. I just continued and followed with whatever they told me, just like before, since it was where I got my purpose in life and a general understanding of life. I never really thought to stop and think if these things were real. A community is hard to find for me at this point because most of the people around me were your typical Christian believers and "normies", as those conspiracy theorists would call them. Therefore, these conspiracy theorists were my community, as it were. I also didn't tell anyone about my new belief, since I was afraid of what their reaction might be. I never told any of these to my parents in a serious manner or conversation, since I know they won't accept it and they'll keep justifying their beliefs. I still used my new version of Christian spirituality to make me secure in the dark worldview that the conspiracy theorists were presenting. Regarding conspiracy theories, I just believed in the famous ones as they come, like the Pizzagate theory, fake actors in false flag events, QAnon etc. I really did not have a lot of doubts about them, since I just watched the conspiracy theory videos and swallowed whatever they told me, which made me more committed to them, and I didn't believe in the more bizarre conspiracy theories (even though the famous ones are bizarre enough) like Flat Earth or that elite people are lizard men. I was even anti-vaxx, and at one point didn't believe in Covid.

As the years went by, I felt my doubts about conspiracy theories and Christianity grow. I doubted some ideas about Christianity that I didn't agree with, such as being against LGBTQ+. I also doubted some conspiracy theories, even though I maintained my belief to other theories and became more committed to them. I thought it was somehow ridiculous that every triangle or eye picture that you can see in products or pictures is Illuminati, even in pictures that don't look like it's an "Illuminati" symbol. What if the person just did it as a random pose, and that there's no meaning behind it? However, some theories gave me comfort since these allowed me to transfer abstract and undefinable threats and problems of life to a definable and identifiable one - the elite, who caused these problems in the first place. Thus, it means me and the conspiracy theory community can do something about the problem by taking on the elite. Furthermore, during this time, I went from not believing that Covid exists to the opposite. However, I still thought that people didn't need to wear masks or social distance. I changed my belief because I thought that it was too unbelievable that the whole world will undergo a really drastic change that affects everything - socially, mentally, financially, economically etc., in a person's, nation's and community's life, if Covid wasn't true. However, I still followed these rules when I went outside in order to avoid trouble. In that year, I unsubscribed from a lot of conspiracy theorists on Youtube because I think they spread a lot of the more bizarre conspiracy theories, which I didn't believe, but I still followed a lot of them. Then, on the year 2020, before September, I unsubscribed from most of the conspiracy theorists on Youtube, since I now doubted more of the conspiracy stuff in general.

So on to the year 2020. During September, I watched a Youtube video from a conspiracy theorist that I always watch. He was into meditation and posted a lot about meditation videos along with the theories. He stated how the Old Testament was evil, since it requires a blood sacrifice and loss of life for forgiveness, which in truth, was unnecessary. He also had several videos like this that I watched. He also posted several videos about how some conspiracy theories were false or were posted by other "conspiracy truthers" for money and views. Starting from that point on, I doubted the 2 world views. It was crazy how they were intertwined in my life, and how they broke together at the same time. The double fracture of my 2 world views breaking (world of Christianity and world of conspiracy theories) was like dropping a BIIIG 2,000 megaton nuclear bomb, on a nuclear testing site! Since then, my belief in conspiracy theories lessened, as I searched for more information debunking said theories. I found Mick West's YouTube channel, his book, this forum, several YouTube channels exposing the theories and several books that do the same. Ever since then, I have been discarding my beliefs in conspiracy theories for science and information from real experts, not experts that are conspiracy theorists.

I have changed in my belief systems over the years. From 2010-2014, I encountered conspiracy theories and became more serious with it as I saw that they included Christian belief. Moreover, from 2014-2020, I moved from a religious Christianity to a more personal Christian spirituality. At the same time, my doubts about the religion and conspiracy theories grew, while maintaining belief in other theories. Finally, from September 2020, up to now, I have experienced the deconversion from both worldviews and its huge effects on my life. Right now, I still hope to discover more about the world through learning new information about it that is not affected by conspiracy theories. At the moment, I'm happy with my choice and I hope that those who escaped the rabbit hole will have the strength to see it through too and have happy lives. It took some courage to finally tell the world of my experiences, but cheers to myself and to others for doing so, and let's have fun in the journey ahead!!​
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Also, some conspiracy theorists I watched were also good writers of inspirational and uplifting messages, perhaps, in order to keep on in a world threatened by the elite. This made me even more supportive and connected to the conspiracy theory community.
This seems to be a common feature of many cult-like groups: to establish the feeling that the group will support you, while the outside world will not. This appeals especially to people undergoing a crisis in their life.

The lasting effect is actually detrimental:
There were times I became more paranoid, more serious, and kind of avoidant and scared of the world, and distrustful of people around me, because of the conspiracy theories.

Do you agree with this take, am I simplifying too much, or am I wrong in any of this?
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Hassan's BITE model ( https://www.researchgate.net/public...FFICKING_AND_THE_LAW_A_dissertation_submitted ) contains a useful checklist of properties - pertaining to control exerted by the group upon the members - commonly shared by (what outsiders would consider) cults, grouped into 4 sets: B=Behavior Control, I=Information Control, T=Thought Control, E=Emotional Control. It might be useful to review those lists, and see how large a tick you can put next to each of the boxes. See e.g. https://freedomofmind.com/cult-mind-control/bite-model/ which has the lists from the original with some examples (quoted below).

For example, regarding the aspects @Mendel highlighted, several of the BITE checklist concern themselves with instilling an us vs. them divide, including a fear of "them":
I3) Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

T1) Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)

T8) Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism

T10) Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful

E5) Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
c. Enemies
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval

E8) Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family
Content from External Source
 
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Pinkbunion

New Member
This seems to be a common feature of many cult-like groups: to establish the feeling that the group will support you, while the outside world will not. This appeals especially to people undergoing a crisis in their life.
The lasting effect is actually detrimental:
Do you agree with this take, am I simplifying too much, or am I wrong in any of this?

I think you're right in all points. It was crazy, I didn't realize it at the time that the only place I looked mainly for reassurance about the "big and scary world controlled by the elites" was them. I think I did it because that worldview i believed in the past was from them, so of course, it's also them, who knows that worldview best, who gives the reassurance during that time. I also did not realize that I had those negative feelings. Thankfully, I still carried on with my life normally. I didn't spread the conspiracy theories. But, surely, those negative feelings did add stress in my life, and I resented that I looked down on other people who were "sheeple", those who didn't believe in the theories, as people I can't trust or be really great friends with.
 

obiwanbenobi

Active Member
I'm not sure from your writing if you still consider yourself a Christian or not. I do not consider myself a Christian but I do think some of the writings in the Bible are worth considering (other's I completely reject).
 

Ann K

Active Member
I think you're right in all points. It was crazy, I didn't realize it at the time that the only place I looked mainly for reassurance about the "big and scary world controlled by the elites" was them. I think I did it because that worldview i believed in the past was from them, so of course, it's also them, who knows that worldview best, who gives the reassurance during that time. I also did not realize that I had those negative feelings. Thankfully, I still carried on with my life normally. I didn't spread the conspiracy theories. But, surely, those negative feelings did add stress in my life, and I resented that I looked down on other people who were "sheeple", those who didn't believe in the theories, as people I can't trust or be really great friends with.
A question for you to ponder, because of course you're the only one who knows your background well: do you feel that religion provided you with both affirmation of your beliefs and a sense of a community that made you feel wanted? In those respects, I think it possible that religion sets you up for feeling the same way about conspiracy theories, thus making you more vulnerable to outlandish claims.

I may be completely wrong in this with respect to your experiences. I (the daughter of a Methodist Minister) was raised with religious discussions being commonplace in the home, yet I counted myself an atheist since I was about 12 or so. As a budding scientist, I questioned the how and why of many things, but regarding religion all the answers seemed to equate to "magic", and I wasn't going to swallow that. And when I read a fantastic story or conspiracy theory, the first thing I want to know is "Is it true?" and the second thought is "Don't be silly, that's ridiculous." I was sorry to leave my childhood ghost fantasies and my national monster behind (Nessie), but it's a lot more satisfying to me than being duped by charlatans.
 

Pinkbunion

New Member
@obiwanbenobi
Yep, I also don't consider myself a Christian anymore, but there are several bible verses that I think are useful to remember and apply in life. Some of them, for me, could only become valuable if I remove their original context and original meaning and apply my own interpretation of the verse and practice them in my life.
 

Pinkbunion

New Member
@Anne K
Yep, looking back, religion really did provide both affirmation of my beliefs and a sense of a community that made me feel wanted. Same with the conspiracy theories too, especially that they became intertwined to me.

I feel better now that I left the Christian religion, even though I still am a piritual person and an agnostic.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
@obiwanbenobi
Yep, I also don't consider myself a Christian anymore, but there are several bible verses that I think are useful to remember and apply in life. Some of them, for me, could only become valuable if I remove their original context and original meaning and apply my own interpretation of the verse and practice them in my life.

When the Bible was written, it was both new and good.

The annoying thing about the posting guidelines is that if I left it at that single sentence, it would be a self-contained joke, and absolutely fine. But were I to include a link to, say, https://quoteinvestigator.com/tag/samuel-wilberforce/ , which would explain the joke to those who aren't already familiar with it, then I'd be in violation of the posting guidelines for not including the explanation here. So I won't do that.
 
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