How can I stop a friend from cutting

Conspiracy theories - what to do if a girlfriend is radicalized?

Does a friendship have to endure conspiracy theories and lies? And what should you do when a long-time friend increasingly slips into the right corner? A self-experience report.

Three weeks ago a friend asked me via Whatsapp: "What is a Nazi"? She had asked me the same question the previous summer. At that time I answered the question, not this year.

The girlfriend and I have clashed over and over again in recent years because she has come up with wild theories more and more often. She stiffly claims that “chemtrails” on airplanes affect the climate, weather and people.

She is convinced that the terrorist attacks of September 11th are a US-orchestrated conspiracy. It was also terrible when she boasted a few years ago that her boyfriend owned Nazi devotional items.

This summer, the things she wrote me on Whatsapp got even stranger. For example, that the coronavirus doesn't even exist. Or that Donald Trump is a redeemer figure. Her statements left me at a loss more and more often.

Change subject or end friendship?

The girlfriend - politically more on the left, intelligent and otherwise a somewhat pragmatic person - the longer, the more absurd conspiracy theories. She feels that the corona measures are being tampered with by politics and claims that in the wake of the pandemic, a totalitarian system will be set up in Switzerland that will curtail fundamental rights.

What should I do?

So far I had tried again and again to talk to the woman, to explain my point of view to her. I kept pointing out that she might have gotten lost in something. Yes, I was looking for a conversation, I didn't want to pretend there was nothing there. But I also kept telling her clearly that I absolutely disagree with her view of the world.

A few months ago I even asked a specialist, the psychoanalyst and satirist Peter Schneider: How should I deal with the fact that a person I actually like forms their own realities and answers scientifically sound arguments with “I don't think so” ?

Schneider's answer: “If it's not too bad and doesn't immediately become the central topic of every conversation, you can simply dismiss it and change the topic. Intensive discussions with proselytizing followers of anything are so unproductive because you simply cannot fight the jumble of numbers, facts, allegations, implications and so on. That requires an effort that no one can endure in the long run. "

That could grow over your head: “Especially since no one has the encyclopedic education to evaluate all claims and, if necessary, to refute them. In addition, you want to have a relaxed chat with your friends or, if you like, have lively and controversial discussions - but not about any nonsense that doesn't interest you at all. "

In the past few weeks I have noticed that the nonsense is getting out of hand: We - my girlfriend and I - got stuck, her theories became increasingly bizarre.

How can I take away her fear of forced vaccinations?

The woman has no problems with the fact that right-wing extremists are running along at the demonstrations in Zurich, Berlin and elsewhere against the corona policy and that QAnon supporters are increasingly appearing.

But I do. People with racial prejudice discriminate against others based on their affiliation. That is not possible. Under no circumstances. And that's why: I would never do something together with people like that. No way!

The QAnon conspiracy movement is becoming more and more popular in certain circles - this is how singer Xavier Naidoo and celebrity chef Attila Hildmann spread their bizarre theories. In Switzerland, the well-known snowboarder Nicolas Müller came out as a supporter in August.

The German weekly newspaper “Zeit” recently summed up the fascination for movement as follows: “Under the label QAnon you can find anti-vaccination opponents and anti-Semites, doubts about the moon landing and fear of reptile people, the alleged sighting of strange flying objects and the idea of ​​using your cell phone with aluminum foil to make location-safe. The attraction lies in this diversity: The theory can be further developed, every current event woven into it. "

Would you like an example? The explosion in the port of Beirut? US President Donald Trump had tunnels blown up there because children were tortured there. But how do you talk people out of that?

How can I take away a person's fear of having to be vaccinated? And how am I supposed to prove that Bill Gates didn't buy WHO?

You don't take to the streets with Nazis

So what to do when a longtime friend believes in conspiracy theories and keeps making them an issue?

I have not made it easy for myself to answer this question. As I said, I kept trying to talk to the woman. I know that trying to teach, to declare the other person insane or to treat them from above does not help.

But you don't take to the streets with Nazis. Showing one's attitude also means not tolerating intolerance and inhuman opinions. My friend does exactly that when she thinks it is not a problem that right-wing extremists also take part in the Corona demos.

"Friendships need a certain degree of everyday compatibility," says Peter Schneider. In the last few weeks I had to admit to myself that this is no longer the case between me and my girlfriend. I got fed up with their taunts. Our friendship is broken by their belief in conspiracies. And if I first have to explain to her what a Nazi is, and then she also replies that she is then also a Nazi, the case is clear to me.

After months, no, years of back and forth, I decided three weeks ago to end the friendship with the woman.

"Conspiracy theories - what to do if a friend is radicalized?" - this is the question asked by «blue News» editor Bruno Bötschi. Our columnist Michael Angele thinks the author makes things too easy for himself. You can find his reply under the following link.

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