Take Me To Your Leader

As much as I like blogging and social media, it seems like people are taking this stuff a little too serious at times. To be honest, it’s getting a little creepy.

And while I don’t have personal experience with “traditional” cults, I did a little research and found the following characteristics that apparently define them.

Do any of them sound familiar?

“Cult”ivating Community

The group is focused on a leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.  

“I will read ANYTHING that (insert blogger here) posts—even if they publish a theory that unicorns are the driving force behind global warming—and I will tweet it out multiple times a day despite the fact the “big” blogger has no clue who I am.”

The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

“Do you follow me on Facebook? On Twitter? Do you subscribe to my posts? Have you checked out this page yet? Grab my button!”

The group is preoccupied with making money.

Lately it seems as if blogs are just billboards for ads. “See my sponsors on the side? Your ad could be there! This post was brought to you today by (insert company that has nothing to do with the blog post.)”

Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

This is evident when a blogger’s followers take to defending the blogger in the comment sections of posts and are personally appalled when someone questions a point that was made—and then that reader is promptly banned from further comments.  If you’ve never noticed this, try reading healthy living blogs. Trust me.

The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.

People who don’t blog/tweet/Facebook “don’t understand,” which is something people who blog/tweet/Facebook don’t understand.

The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities.

Anyone can blog, which mean anyone can say anything they want at any time without (relatively any) consequence.

The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.

“I’m only two followers away from (insert random number)!  Help me get there by tonight, or else God will kill a kitten!”

Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.

“After you link up, be sure to read at least 35 of the other posts here, leave comments, come back here and tell us that you left a comment, tweet about which post you liked best and then post it to your Facebook page.”

But have no fear!

If you find yourself  taking things too seriously, remember that you have free will!

You don’t have to believe “them” when they say, “if you don’t post a picture, an update or an announcement of everything from your lunch to the cold you’ve been fighting, how will anyone know about your willpower or dedication? How will anyone congratulate, commiserate or validate your feelings or your feats?”

Remember that you will know, and that just because you didn’t post it online, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. After all, one should be posting the best parts of their life that happen authentically and not living life for the best thing to post.

I know the pull is strong, but you can be stronger.

You can break free!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tweet out the link to this post. Oh, and by the way…

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56 responses to “Take Me To Your Leader

  1. well now i want to know who you might be talking about. who is the leader? haha, i can think of several. I’ll go search my twitter feed now. ;-)

  2. Hahaha. Abby if you have a problem with my goddess status, I wish you’d just talk to me privately instead of writing a whole post about me. LOL. Super funny. And thanks for the reminder that we do have free will. ;-) So right now I WILL have a blue Popsicle for breakfast!

  3. Hmm…seems I am guilty. Which is actually kind of cool, because I never thought I’d be a cult leader. Do I get to wear a fancy hat or elegant caftan now? Maybe both??

  4. I hadn’t thought about it, but I believe anything you say so it must be true. Where can I send you money?

    • Finally someone got my point. I think you have my address. If not, it’s subliminally included throughout the text of this post.

  5. Reblogged this on Spotts in the Valley of the Sun and commented:
    Funny, perhaps especially because it’s so close to true it’s frightening! :-D Enjoy…and like my page on Facebook…and follow me on Twitter…and retweet or reblog EVERYthing I write! I AM your leader!!!! And God will kill a kitten if you don’t!!

  6. I am perpetually perplexed by blogging.

    I still haven’t quite got my head around it. I feel like I did in my schooldays – lurking on the perimeter, overwhelmed by the cool kids and not fitting in to any of the cliques.

    I have several blogs that I really enjoy reading, they’re all completely different, but one things unites them, and that is that each has a true ‘voice’, they all write with authenticity and a ‘rawness’ that they totally embrace. Yours is one of them.

    When I first found the blogosphere, I, of course, read most of the really big blogs, but I quickly found I preferred the smaller, less well-known ones. I guess, a little like my favourite musicians/singers, they’re always a little more ‘Indie’, always on the back foot, doing what they do because they fucking love it, not because they sold out when money was offered.

    I watched an awesome singer last night, he was the opening act for a much bigger band, and it struck me that he was SO much better than half of the people in the charts right now – he came on stage, guitar in hand, and just sang/played his heart out – such talent. Yet he’ll probably remain just on the outside of the limelight, because he’s not in it for the fame – he’s just doing what nourishes his heart and soul and he’ll never lose sight of what it all means to him.

    I have totally gone off on a tangent here, apologies, but this post really struck a chord. I’m thirty now, not a 15 year old schoolgirl, and I’m pretty happy lurking around the perimeter of the blogosphere, plus I have WAY better hair than I did back then, thank god for Frizz Ease.

    • I love–LOVE–everything about this comment, as you nailed what I rambled about sarcastically in a much more poignant fashion. That is why I love you. Well, that and the hair, of course.

    • I believe I found a new queen!
      p.s. I’ve pre-paid a 2-yr membership to your cult. I’ve also managed to train my hair to be quite like yours too!

  7. I hear the pitter patter of John Connor’s feet running to do something painful to somebody who dared say it! Or maybe it’s the melting silver dude with the great chest, not sure. I get them confused.

    I fucking agree with you! But worst yet. Ouch. I am guilty of that crap. And what a load of crap it is. Because it is crap! When I started blogging I thought ‘If I could only get 5 followers, wouldn’t that be grand?’ Then I wanted 100. Then 100 more.

    I’m on the fence now. I’ve just switched from blogger to WordPress (love it) and had to give up on my google friend connect thing that daily reinforced my little twinkling sense of self esteem. Although I knew those numbers meant nothing I still clung to them. It’s sad really. A sad reality to hunt and gather for the wrong thing in life.

    Oh well, when all else fails I may as well grab my paddleboard and enjoy the soak! See ya!

    • I’m quite guilty as well, but I have learned–and relearned–that you can’t lose sight of why you do the things you do (see iampisspot’s awesome comment on this post.) It’s hard and so easy to get caught up in things, but when you think about it, it’s kind of ridiculous. What did people do before they could share every freaking detail all the time? Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE blogging and the people I meet, but at times it does feel like “A sad reality to hunt and gather for the wrong thing in life.” So very well said, and by the way, I love your refreshing honestly with so many things. ;)

      • It’s totally ridiculous. I hate reading the “wonder one’s” blog because of it. All the 900 comments are always like schoolchildren yelling “look at me! look at me!” and I hate it even more when I fall in that trap. Bleh. But like you said it is through these instruments of the devil that I found cool people to read and be inspired by…
        p.s. It’s Sunday – I hate to go all über catholic on your skinny ass! ツ

  8. You make excellent points. A big one is the time factor – imagine how much time we’d have on our hands if we weren’t in a cult? All that empty free time could lead us to join..a…uh…cult.

  9. So much truth there! I get tired especially of the blogs that are just out to make money. A few I used to read regularly for content now have just become product promoters; I no longer bother to read them.

  10. This is so true. I noticed that about one big blog that I used to read. I no longer do so for all of the above reasons.

    I will go now and work on this song I’ve written which will never be played on any stage of significance, but it’ll nourish my heart on this grey Sunday afternoon!

    Thanks, Abby, for a reminder of what’s real!

  11. This made me laugh so hard. I thought about a few sites and how if someone says something against them all their minions go on attack mode like school children. I just don’t love people who take stuff way too seriously. Now wait while I go find something to pin, tweet about my pin, beg someone on another blog to follow me by commenting, then talk poorly of people who just don’t “get it” because they don’t have a blog.

  12. Unfortunately, the majority of the cult leaders aren’t talented in the least bit which makes their popularity an even bigger mystery.

  13. I think you’re cranky because the Tigers are hovering around .500.

    As much I dig The Bloggess, there are times when I see people fawn all over her every word when the girl’s just posting pictures of her book signings to spit out 3 posts that week. Its okay to say, hey Lance, that last Helene episode or that thing you posted about your kids, yeah, they sucked. But you know, you’ll get ‘em next time”.

    The thing about blogging is, if you do it for yourself, you know, the way you and Amy and Kim write to be funny and interesting, then you are your own cult of personality. That’s pretty damn cool.

    I have six dollars. Where do I send it, fearless leader?

    • I name no names, my friend. And I’m also not cranky–at least not any more than normal–just a wee bit snarky when it comes to these things lately ;)

      And I agree with your whole blogging synopsis and would add you to the list. Keep your $6, buy yourself a beer and pat yourself on the back. You’re a gem, my friend.

  14. You have my heart (okay, you had it before), but this really resonated.

  15. It’s like Spiderman: You have to learn to use your powers for good. Ok that was a horrible analogy, but you know what I mean. I think some people let their popularity and influence go to their heads.

  16. I hope I don’t come off as “preoccupied with making money” (or as defensive of that making money), but I actually love my sponsored opportunities that are paid by a brand but give me a topic to run with. Yes, some of them make me add a brand statement, but I other than that I don’t have to talk about the brand at all, and can ramble on about my own thing. You should see some of the crazy that is pitched.

    not at all trying to diffuse what I am doing, or make it seem more right or special. it’s not. I feel I still love my “hobby” as much as when (and why!) I began. It is separate from my full time job, and when I found out I could make money doing it? guilty. I do it, even though I turn down more than I accept.

    and as much as I am guilty of some of the above, I am not delusional enough to think you could remotely possibly be talking about me (I’m not big enough to talk about). I love the reactions to these posts, all the who is it, who is it??

    I do miss twitter, though. I used to have more time to “chat” on it… I never really was caught up in follows or numbers, I really made some neat friends and connections, and had some fun conversation. I hope to be able to get back to it soon.

    bye, I’m a ramblin.

    • Are you kidding me? You never even popped into my mind. Plus, you are about as humble as they come and extremely talented at what you do (I’m not just saying that either.) I also love that you are honest and sweet and have a cute-ass dog, but that’s beside the point.

      And yes, the “is it me?” thing says more than this post could have, even though it’s all tongue in cheek. Now I’m rambling, but it wasn’t anyone specific. Now I’m worried everyone thinks I’m a witch, but it’s merely an observation ;)

  17. I only read the blogs I truly love, written by people with authentic voices. Also, I tweet the links to those blogs when I feel inclined.

  18. I am in the cult of Abby, though. I have just bought a cat and am calling her Monie II, am thinking of relocating to the midwest, and am working on my writing skills to be as brilliant as my leader.

    Love this post. xo

    • Liar. It’s not nice to tease.

      • Okay so maybe I am not getting a cat seeing that I really don’t like cats ever since my cat from youth would poop in the bathrub and then come into my room and leave a snail trail from his infamous butt slide walk all over my WHITE carpet and then would pee in my bed. And maybe I’m not really moving to the midwest–been there, done that (maybe you should move west!) BUT I firmly plant my foot in the cult of Abby. So maybe I’m not gonna drink your Kool Aid, although if it was sugar and artificial flavor free, I would give it a second thought. BUT I will say that what you write here always has me re-thinking things and I enjoy your view on life. It’s what keeps me coming back for more. And if that makes me a member of your cult, God help me, I’m happy with it :) I would gladly make you my leader any day <–absolutely NO teasing about it what-so-ever!

        • You know I’m addicted to yours, so let the mutual butt kissing commence. We’ll just agree that I should come to the west and make it official, no? See what you can do about that…

  19. Just found your blog – and I love it! I have a blog, but I usually tell people I have “a website”. I think there’s a negative connotation associated with blogs, for this very reason. I try to limit the amount of self promotion I do, and I certainly don’t think I have developed a cult or anything like that (but I certainly know the blogs you’re talking about!). I get emails once or twice a week from companies that want to sell stuff through my blog, but I am yet to say yes. I’m not saying I won’t ever advertise on my blog, but I want to make sure it’s something I truly believe about. Last week someone offered to pay me $200 for just a text link in one of my posts, but it was for an online gaming product – and something I definitely don’t want to advertise!

    • I also think there are a lot more opportunities for company promotion when it comes to health and fitness blogs, seeing the number of products associated and the near hysteria/obsession with diets and “magic” cures for fitness. If I had the opportunity to get paid to blog and it was something I believed in, I probably wouldn’t say no! ;)

  20. This is fantastic! You are spot on with every point. I remember writing a post about oversharing and using that woman from the blog, Dooce, as an example. Let’s just say that mommy bloggers will attack if they feel like you are threatening one of their own. I was afraid I’d wake up with a poop filled diaper on my doorstep the next morning.

    • I’ve never read one post from Dooce, and always thought it was just a weird nickname people used to talk about a “crappy” blogger. Go figure ;)

  21. Ha! As I was reading this, I was thinking “hmm, doesn’t she always hock her book at the end of every post? Hypocritical much?” But then I saw what you did there. ;)

    Oh no, am I banned now? Are a flock of your followers going to swoop down and tear me to bits? (Slinks away with tail between legs . . . ).

    • I do pimp it out at the end, but all the profits go to charity and I don’t tweet it out every five seconds anymore. People who are new to my blog might not know about it, so I have to keep it (subtly) on the radar ;) Buy the book. Save a kitten!

  22. I’m new here. I found you from Finding the Funny. Now I’m afraid kittens will be killed if I don’t tweet this out or watch your book trailer. :P Just kidding. I have to go tweet this out though, it’s spot on.

  23. kelleysbreakroom

    Oh, Abby, were you talking to me? The guilt, the guilt, the guilt. I mean, we’ve got the link-up going on on Wednesdays. I so get it. It takes time and tweets and yadda yadda yadda. I sometimes feel like it’s not even me writing! Then, I have actually done a giveaway or two. I hated giveaways! I just wanted to write! I’ve done the whole “read me over here” thing many times! I mean, I’m happy for the writing opportunities, but I feel horrible every time I’m all “read me here”. How annoying. Okay, I’m annoyed with myself. You’ve got me thinking over here!

    (BTW, thanks for linking this up with #findingthefunny!)

  24. I’ve run up against this one lately “Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished”. Yah. Hate that. Because me? If I can get a company to pay me to make fun of them, then I’m doing my job right. So far, I’ve pulled it off twice.

  25. I’m backing away from the computer…slowly…crouching down…is that camera on?

  26. I love, love, LOVE this!!! I avoid blogs that are walking ads like the plague! Is it me, or are the mommy bloggers the biggest offenders? I don’t really identify with them too well. I am a mom, and a blogger, but I think they may lynch me if I tried one of their ilk! Good post!

  27. anne-writersspace

    Found you on the blog hop. You’re right. I don’t like and avoid blogs peppered with ads. You however manage to make it sound so funny.

  28. “I’m only two followers away from (insert random number)! Help me get there by tonight, or else God will kill a kitten!” — Yes! I’m a lot more likely to judge a blog on the posts… don’t give a crap how many ‘followers’ there are (‘course, maybe that’s because I have so few… so follow me, follow me, follow me!!!! God may not kill a kitten, but I’ll step on a spider, I swear!).

    Great post… found you via ‘Finding the Funny’

  29. hmm -very interesting. Is that why I sometimes feel like I am back in high school when dealing with social media? I like blogging, but sometimes it is an just an ego feed-fest (how many visits did I get? how many followers? how many comments? etc) Great post! (via FtheF)

  30. Hysterically too true–I’ve joined a cult and didn’t realize it ;)

  31. The best part is when you find the few people whose writing you adore, and you settle into a wonderful camaraderie with them, the blog rat race becomes less important…and just writing finds its way back to your fingers.

  32. justanothertiredmommy

    I’ve been TRYING to do that to people, but they don’t seem to be cooperating with me. Maybe I’m not laying on the guilt enough…my mother always said that I wouldn’t be a good cult leader…
    Don’t forget to like me on fb, twitter,and Pinterest, and you can also follow my blog at:
    http://anothertiredmommy.blogspot.com/2012/05/well-played-zuckermanberg.html

    How was THAT?! I found you on the FInding the Funny hop–so glad I did! It’s nice to do a self check every once in a while!

  33. Hmm, I’m probably guilty of some of these, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me because I still laughed my tail off at this post and also because 10,000 KITTENS WILL DIE IF YOU DON’T FORGIVE ME.

  34. This is awesome! Love it.

  35. How the heck did I miss this post? So true it hurts…

    • That would be because I am obviously not cool enough to lead any cult, although the Bad Ass Girl’s Club is most certainly tops on my list ;)

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