New report details the dark side of the 'wellness community' — and its surprising connection to QAnon

New report details the dark side of the 'wellness community' — and its surprising connection to QAnon
A Donald Trump supporter wearing a QAnon t-shirt at a MAGA really in Minneapolis in 2019, Wikimedia Commons
Frontpage news and politics

In the past, the new age culture was often mocked by far-right talk radio hosts. They equated it with hippies, pacifists, anti-war protesters and others they held in low regard. But journalist Eve Wiseman, in a recent article for The Guardian, discuss an unlikely intersection between the new age "wellness community" and far-right anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and conspiracy theorists like QAnon.

Wiseman describes a world of yoga, organic foods and spiritual healing in her article, but she also discusses QAnon, far-right conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers — laying out some reasons why the two have sometimes intersected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While the overlap of left-wing, magazine-friendly wellness and far-right conspiracy theories might initially sound surprising, the similarities in cultures, in ways of thinking — the questioning of authority, of alternative medicines, the distrust of institutions — are clear," Wiseman explains. "But something is happening, accelerated by the pandemic: the former is becoming a mainstream entry point into the latter — an entry point that can be found everywhere from a community garden to the beauty aisle at a big Tesco."

Wiseman points to Melissa Rein Lively, an Arizona-based PR executive, as an example of someone who embraced "wellness, natural health, organic food" on one hand and QAnon delusions on the other. Lively, in 2020, created a cell phone video in which she railed against protective face masks in a Target store in Scottsdale, Arizona, tossed masks and angrily declared, "This shit is over"; because of her meltdown in Target, Lively was mocked as "QAnon Karen."

Lively told The Guardian, "A significant number of influencers previously focused on wellness and spirituality seemed to become dominated with what we now understand to be QAnon content…. Much of what I read took a hard stance against the pharmaceutical industry and western medical philosophy, and was particularly critical of individuals like Bill Gates, who seemed to have an incredible amount of influence and involvement in public health policy."

QAnon, Wiseman notes, "is the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is fighting a deep-state cabal of Satanic pedophiles."

These days, according to Wiseman, Lively regrets the way she acted in 2020 — especially her public meltdown in Target in Scottsdale. Lively told the Guardian that last year, she started "to experience a rapid mental health spiral" — and on July 4, 2020, she "experienced a mental break that peaked at a Target store."

Lively added, "People fail to realize that wellness and spirituality is ultimately an industry. There are a lot of useful lessons…. (but) I think it's best to take them with a grain of salt."

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