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The Villages
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Radicalization can be quick

To the Editor:

In watching coverage Thursday of the remembrance ceremonies in honor of Jan. 6, and the 140 capital police who were injured plus those killed, a reporter gave the story of the woman in the crowd from his home town who died that day, trampled to death in the crowd rushing to invade the capital doors.
Her family related the story of why she was there. This was a woman who had no interest in politics, had never been involved in any political movements or even voted. However, she was active online and in just a six-month time period she began consuming online right wing radical videos, mostly YouTube and began relating conspiracy stories to family, getting more and more engrossed and obsessed with Trump, that the election had been stolen and something had to be done.
She binge watched YouTube one night, all night long. She told family she had to go to D.C. on Jan. 6, despite family attempts to discourage her. In just six months she went from an apolitical normal citizen to a “true believer” in radical conspiracy. This is why online media has to reform their software that feeds more and more conspiracy to anyone who shows a casual interest, without regard for facts or truth. This content of lies and conspiracy led to a death in this instance. Absent online videos and what was fed to her computer, this young woman would still be alive.
It should be a warning to many here in The Villages, who have been radicalized in the same way.

Jack Stephens
Village of Sanibel


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