Thursday 24 March 2016

Elitism and Jargon in Online Cults

Elitist mentality

As part of cult tactics, members are made to feel special. They are part of an elite group that is going to, for example, change history, save the world, change humankind in some way or be saved by god. They have a strong sense of mission or purpose which binds them together and keeps them working hard and giving of themselves - in other words, slaving and sacrificing!

This sense of elitism makes them feel more important or superior to those outside the group, especially to people in other cults, which they can easily spot!

This gives rise to one of the many contradictions in cults. While members are obedient and humble before the leadership, they can be arrogant to outsiders.

This elitism also brings responsibility, because they feel more responsible for saving the world. And of course, this sense of responsibility can be used by the leaders to manipulate them even further, inducing guilt if they don't properly perform their duties, earn enough money, recruit enough people, and so on.

Loaded language

The jargon in cults has multiple effects.

- The group members feel understood because they all use the same words and it generates a sense of camaraderie (and elitism - see below).

- New people may feel left out and often want to learn what the words and phrases mean, drawing them deeper into the mindset of the cult.

- Complex situations are often reduced to a few words, and this begins to shut down the critical thinking of the members.

- The words and phrases can dictate how the members should act in certain situations without having to make decisions. For example, one group had a phrase that meant that seniors in the hierarchy of the group were always right. So if there were any problems or disagreements, the phrase sorted everything out!

When the jargon is second nature, talking to outsiders may become tedious and awkward and this keeps group members isolated from outside influences.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sounds like most of the world's Major religions and almost every New Age group :D

    1. Yes Tim, it's interesting how many of them use similar tactics.