Sharon McMahon, a mother of four based in Minnesota, has amassed over 400,000 followers on Instagram by uploading videos busting conspiracy theories.
Sharon McMahon is a mother of four from Minnesota. Leading up to the Presidential elections last year, she was alarmed by the number of posts she saw on social media about QAnon conspiracy theories. As a White, middle-aged woman, she was of course the target audience for such posts. She was shocked by the amount of misinformation she stumbled across on a daily basis. Therefore, she decided to put her decade of experience in teaching government and law, as well as her passion for constitutional law, to good use. Uploading one Instagram video at a time, she bust some common misconceptions within the conspiracies she read, CNN reports.
"It was just shockingly wrong," she said in an interview with the news outlet. "Like not even a little bit right." She took to Instagram in order to dispel some of the myths she was seeing online. In her videos, she gives nonpartisan lessons on basic principles of government, including, for instance, how bills are passed in Congress and how the Electoral College works. She stated with a laugh, "I really just wanted Facebook to sit down and shut up." According to the mom, people's "innate desire to make sense of the world" is what makes them latch on to anything. Yes, even if it is "straight up lies on Twitter."
To McMahon, it is easy to laugh at the more preposterous and obvious lies floating about on the internet. Nonetheless, they have real-life implications: the incident that took place on January 6 has shown residents of the United States, and beyond, how true this is. She believes conspiracy theories can "become a real threat to national security." In light of this, it appears that her straightforward, "just the facts" approach has been quite effective in combating such lies. Last month alone, 10 people approached her to let her know that they used to believe some of the QAnon conspiracies until they saw the videos on her page. According to her, that is a win. "I understand that I can't reach everybody," she admitted. "But those 10 people are not going to be out there spreading misinformation anymore."
The number of people flocking to her, nonetheless, gives the mother hope. When she first began posting videos to her Instagram profile in late October 2020, she had been on the social media platform for nine years and amassed a total of 14,000 followers. In four months, however, her account grew exponentially. Calling themselves "governerds," her follower count is up to 400,000 people, and they have formed a small community of their own. She said, "There are people who are interested in facts, and who are interested in the truth, even if it's not what they want to hear." Shirking off the label "social media influencer," McMahon likes to call herself "America's government teacher."
Not only does the self-proclaimed nation's teacher educate her followers, but she also rallies them together to execute philanthropic efforts. For instance, her community helped raise more than $700,000 in the last five months to pay off more than $56 million in default medical debt through RIPMedicalDebt.org. McMahon is of the belief that America still cares about "what matters." "We all want very similar things of peace and prosperity and freedom," she affirmed. "We want to help others and we just have differences of how we want to get there."