Sometime in the middle of the pandemic year, and sometime in the middle of a prolonged and compulsive scroll through Instagram, the “truth seekers” came into my life. The term was showing up over and over in the bios and captions of the women I followed, so often that I was starting to feel as if I were seeing things. The lockdowns seemed to have inspired a new kind of internet identity: There were truth-seeking fashion bloggers, truth-seeking travel influencers, and truth-seeking expectant moms who prayed that their daughters would be truth seekers too. Some would even seek the truth across platforms, beckoning their followers to new podcasts about the truth, new Telegram group chats in which the truth was up for discussion, or new lines of truth-related merchandise.
“If Jesus were walking the Earth today, do you think you’d see him for his miracles?” a QAnon-obsessed fashion blogger and “relentless truth seeker” asked several weeks ago. “Or would you label him a conspiracy theorist?” I knew why she was asking, and it was not because she was leading Bible study.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the “truths” these women had in mind were highly suspect and disturbing ones. They wanted all the facts about the Democrats’ scheme to harvest the blood of children, and all the evidence proving that the COVID-19 vaccines have microchips in them. The stress of that pursuit frequently culminated in angry speeches, delivered to a front-facing camera, about how Instagram was trying to silence their unpopular opinions and original perspectives. Like-minded Instagrammers may refer to themselves as “critical thinkers” or “true journalists,” among other coded phrases, but the term I saw most often—the succinct and pretty hook that has pulled so many women down the rabbit hole—was truth seeker.