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Where We Go One, We Go All: QAnon, Networked Individualism, and the Dark Side of Participatory (Fan) Culture


Participation in online spaces has afforded new fan cultures (Baym, Burnett 2009; Jenkins 2018) and enabled new communities of networked individuals (Rainie, Wellman 2012; Burgess, Jones 2020). Online participation also generates participatory cultures, which allow audiences unprecedented opportunity to connect with each other and with the media they share. However, it has also generated some decidedly anti-social and anti-democratic movements, such as QAnon (Amarasingam, Argentino 2020). In this commentary, we argue that QAnon can be thought of as a participatory fan culture gone awry. Using QAnon’s entry into mainstream culture in 2020 as a case study, we explore the darker implications of online participatory culture, including misinformation, conspiratorial- thinking, and an undermining of shared realities. Lastly, we propose that these issues are made more explicit and difficult to attend to in a media sphere characterized by dominant neo-liberal corporate control of participatory media, and digital dualism.