How to Not Be A Cult Leader

Another day, another set of misinformed and honestly slanderous accusations that I, a spiritual abuse survivor who literally has only ever tried to spread awareness, am a cult leader. Except the system making the accusations this time around apparently makes a good amount of money doing novel-length writeups on people they think are cult leaders, and while some of their claims seem legitimate, others… well. Let’s just say they’ve got a fairly low bar for what counts as cultish, due to the fact that all their experience with such things has been secondhand.

To release a bit of my aggression, I’ve compiled a satirical list of rules for how to not be a cult leader, based on their writing. Here it is, for your reading pleasure.

  1. Do not enjoy any sci-fi or fantasy. Only read porn comics and depressing historical nonfiction.
  2. If you do enjoy sci-fi or fantasy, don’t get involved in fandom.
  3. DEFINITELY don’t let the sci-fi and fantasy you’re into affect your outlook on the world in any way.
  4. Don’t try to find community with people who are also affected as deeply by the speculative fiction you like as you are.
  5. Okay, if you HAVE to, I guess that’s fine, but don’t start any kind of organized or loosely-organized group with these people.
  6. Whatever you do, DON’T MOVE IN WITH AN INTERNET FRIEND. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got nowhere else to go and they threw you a lifeline. Just don’t even think about it. Die on the streets instead.
  7. You know what? Just don’t have friends. Then you won’t have influence over anyone.
  8. Don’t have any kind of spiritual beliefs that aren’t mainstream. Honestly, even mainstream religions are suspect.
  9. Especially don’t be a pop culture pagan.
  10. Don’t ever have a fight with anyone, and if you do, keep it a secret.
  11. Paradoxically, broadcast all your fights with others in minute detail, because if you don’t, you’re clearly hiding something.
  12. Don’t ever out someone as an abuser.
  13. Don’t redact statements you made years ago. It’s personal growth when other people do it, but when you do it, it makes you look two-faced.
  14. Don’t ever volunteer to take on a leadership role.
  15. If you HAVE to take a leadership role, don’t fall into the trap of enjoying your duties.
  16. Remember not to abdicate either. Hating your job is required, but abdicating is culty (for some reason, because apparently giving up power is a thing cult leaders do.)
  17. Don’t ever make fun of, satirize, or joke about cults. Even if you’re a cult survivor yourself. ESPECIALLY if you’re a cult survivor yourself.
  18. If you’re a cult survivor, don’t have a personality outside of “poor sad traumatized victim” or “inspirational heroic role model.” Your experiences are only as valid as they are inspiring or sympathy-inducing.
  19. Don’t develop any academic interest in cults, and don’t try to spread awareness– that’s THEIR cash cow, and they won’t like the competition.
  20. Don’t ever be kind to someone, and don’t ever try to help someone. That gives you power over them.
  21. Don’t ever become convinced that anything you do could possibly make the world a better place.
  22. Don’t get involved in any kind of activism.
  23. Don’t produce any kind of creative work, especially not fanwork.
  24. Don’t have any kind of interest in BDSM, unless it’s the purely physical kind. Long term D/s dynamics are, like, totally culty, man.
  25. Don’t channel spirits. Ever.
  26. Don’t charge money for tarot readings, sigils, or anything spirituality related.
  27. Don’t have an anxiety disorder, and if you do, don’t ever show symptoms.
  28. If you’re plural, doing any of the above will bring your Cultishness Quotient up to 5000. (Unless you’re diagnosed with DID and fully identify with the medical model. Then you’re excusable because it’s The Mental Illness, Don’tcha Know.)
  29. If you’re otherkin, doing any of the above will bring your Cultishness quotient up to 6000.
  30. If you’re both, well, there’s really no hope left for you to save yourself from the path to ruin. You may as well have already started handing out poisoned Kool-Aid.

Follow all the rules on this list to the letter, and you, too, can be Not A Cult Leader™ by these official and totally arbitrary standards! Granted, you’ll also be a shell of your former self, deprived of all companionship and all of life’s simple pleasures, but hey, you’re never safer from succumbing to megalomania than when you’re dead inside.

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