I just watched this video by Fel the Blithe on YouTube and I wanted to share it with you all. For some context, Fel is a cult survivor and is very close to this topic. I think she brings up some great points and things to watch out for when in a group setting, especially online.
I think it can go beyond just religious groups. I fell deep into a fandom after Mom died. It was a distraction. It was fun until it wasn’t.
There was a shift in leadership of the group. The new leadership basically became a clique of friends. However, it’s presented that they are in charge because they are the most knowledgeable. The main guru showed up at filming and has blurry pictures elevating her further in people’s opinions. She has the inside knowledge and determines what is valid and what is not.
It doesn’t matter how hard anyone tries. There’s no advancement beyond a minion to the clique. Speak out and you get ridiculed and dog piled. Now, they have started a podcast to extend their reach and spread their information to a wider audience.
It may sound silly, but it’s rough mentally. I’m a grown woman, and they made me feel stupid and unlikeable. I was publicly branded as unkind for the opinion I don’t think a small clique should be the end all be all deciding factor on literally everything. Particularly if those opinions don’t even make logical sense. Everyone should have a voice. That’s the purpose of a community.
Oh yeah, it can be really dangerous no matter what kind of community you’re in. I’m glad you didn’t stick around there, but I relate to the feeling you had. It’s ridiculous how something like that can affect how we feel about ourselves, but when it’s piled on by multiple people or done in a more public way, it can get really bad, really fast.
Yes to all of this! The point of a community is to come together over a mutual interest, no matter what the interest is. Once it starts to become hierarchical, it’s all downhill from there. There may be a “leader” of a community, but a good leader doesn’t lead by dictatorship or fear or whatever. They lead by ensuring that everyone has a voice and everyone is included. A community should be a safe place, not one you have to fear.