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Fri Jan 1, 2021, 07:29 AM

Parler, and other forums like it are the 21st Century "Jonestowns"

My oldest friend- of 35 or so years has been going nuttier and nuttier for the past several months. Let me give a bit of background information:

We (I am a 56 year old female) met when I was 21, living in a communal atmosphere in Asheville, NC. It was so much fun; the entire group was pretty liberal, we all had jobs and contributed to the upkeep of the house, monthly bills, etc. We hung out, had friends over, wonderful conversations. I don't recall any of us ever drinking- I can't even remember seeing a bottle of wine in the house. We were pretty healthy; our greatest fun was cooking huge meals and enjoying each other's company. The house (which has been sold) is in North Asheville near the Grove Park Inn. We were all involved with something creative, whether it was school, the environment, bird watching, photography- etc.

Over the years, we all moved on as people do- got married, had kids, got divorced (in my case, I traveled- and decided to go back to school and attend grad school)--- the usual. Nothing serious- just normal life.

My friend (who is male) was always interested in the paranormal- UFO's, ghosts. I have an open mind, so thought it was interesting, and sometimes fun. He was also- at the time, a computer genius. This guy was on the forefront of installing satellite TV, then cable- Electronically, he knew what he was doing- no doubt about it. There was nothing electronic he couldn't fix.

He is also Poly. Again, not interested in that lifestyle for myself, but I really just don't worry about how others self identify their preferred family structure.

Since Trump was elected, I have been getting some pretty strange emails. Again, nothing new- usually it's about UFO's, ghosts, etc. But, now it's become weirder and political. He is sending me emails that read like Qanon crap. Political conspiracy theories. "Deep state crap." I don't need to tell you guys what they say, because you all probably have an idea.

However, now? I am getting emails with the same theme: "You don't know what I do- you don't know what is REALLY going on."

I am a firm believer now that we have a serious problem in the US: A cult- and one whose space is defined by URL's as opposed to a plot of land. This one is bigger than anything we have ever seen, and should not be taken lightly.

Cults require a few things to define them:

1. Leadership. (Trump, and minions in the House, Senate, and on the state level)
2. Membership in a defined space. (Parler, Qanon....There are probably many wesbites I don't know about)
3. Paranoia about "the other" --- don't talk to them, don't mix- hence, the rise of Parler for the middle class-
but, more importantly:

4. A belief that requires that one is a "member." Part of a "family." That feeling of "belonging," and that you and the others are privvy to information ONLY available to YOU and other members. All humans need a family, or a "pack." Even Incels- that's why they join Incel groups- there are very few TRUE loners- even Thoreau needed an audience.

Old fashioned cults would have hated the internet- they self-defined by physical geography. They hated the rest of the world, and went out of their way to NOT allow others in. Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, the Manson "family." The last thing they wanted was scrutiny.

This is going to be one of the biggest issues facing us as we move forward. It's scary as crap.

And yes- I miss my friend. I do. He's a neat guy- and I am NOT cutting contact. I keep writing him back and saying, "this is not a credible source," and explaining why.

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Reply Parler, and other forums like it are the 21st Century "Jonestowns" (Original post)
essme Jan 1 OP
3Hotdogs Jan 1 #1
essme Jan 1 #3
3Hotdogs Jan 1 #4
essme Jan 1 #6
Hortensis Jan 1 #10
essme Jan 1 #11
Hortensis Jan 1 #25
dameatball Jan 1 #30
get the red out Jan 1 #2
essme Jan 1 #5
niyad Jan 1 #15
essme Jan 1 #16
niyad Jan 1 #19
Maggiemayhem Jan 1 #21
Hugin Jan 1 #35
Hugin Jan 1 #7
essme Jan 1 #8
Hugin Jan 1 #9
niyad Jan 1 #12
Yeehah Jan 1 #13
Tarc Jan 1 #14
essme Jan 1 #17
Tarc Jan 1 #20
niyad Jan 1 #18
essme Jan 1 #23
niyad Jan 1 #26
essme Jan 1 #28
niyad Jan 1 #31
Johnny2X2X Jan 1 #27
niyad Jan 1 #32
TNNurse Jan 1 #22
essme Jan 1 #24
TNNurse Jan 1 #29
bullwinkle428 Jan 1 #33
ms liberty Jan 1 #34

Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 07:50 AM

1. In addition to, this is not a credible source, add where did you learn this? or How do you know this

is true? Have him support his beliefs.


BTW, my ex and I formed a merged family commune in 1982. There were 7 of us. 2 kids each. As the kids grew older, their friends would com live with us during school, until they reconciled with their parents or whatever. That was fun... long dining room table, filled.

our house has 14 rooms.

Ex and I are the two left after Bill and Lynn died. Lynn's daughter and family still live on the 2nd floor. We will sell the house to them in spring and retain a life estate.

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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 07:57 AM

3. :) Well, I am a middle school librarian who teaches

fun classes on "credible sources." (just for fun- google the Northwest Tree Octopus-- it's great fun for 6th graders)

So, I am trying-

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Response to essme (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:00 AM

4. O.T.O.H. as another credible source says, "You can't fix stupid."

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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:03 AM

6. I think in this case, the Dems are going to have to try

"to fix stupid."

Ignoring them WILL lead to a genocide. I am now convinced of that.

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Response to essme (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:41 AM

10. How? If it were only stupidity and ignorance. It's personality

above all that allows large numbers of people to think truth and right and wrong are whatever they want them to be, that leads people to prefer irrational and paranoid answers over reality.

The only thing I can think of that would work over the short term is Bill Gates' chip. For the left.

On the right, a rational and responsible RW leader would do these dysfunctional people a world of good. They follow their leader, think like their leader, obey their leader; unfortunately, they first choose their leader, and we can't do that for them.

Long term, extremism on both right and left and general nuttery grow when people become frightened about the future. When people feel more secure, the syndromes shrink back to those who always are and for the rest are replaced with discussions about the new tatting craze and where to go on vacation.

We've at least made a start by electing a president even many on the right feel they know and can trust and who, above all, understands the critical need to restore that national feeling of wellbeing and security. I once hoped that two terms of Hillary's big national fixing up, with new jobs and income growth, coming after Obama's two would accomplish it, but... Those troubled times WERE the good old days in comparison, weren't they?

Just four disastrous years ago. And there's our short-term path: Learn from our own mistakes and resolve to be smarter and make more responsible decisions, because there's no other "they" citizenry who are going to hold our nation together while we get it stabilized. We're it.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:51 AM

11. Extremely good points-

I particularly like this paragraph:

"Long term, extremism on both right and left and general nuttery grow when people become frightened about the future. When people feel more secure, the syndromes shrink back to those who always are and for the rest are replaced with discussions about the new tatting craze and where to go on vacation."

How about this:

Push the Dem party back to it's populist roots. I know in NC, and the South, that worked very well under FDR- think the TVA. Rural electrification and plumbing resonated with Americans in the midwest.

Media--- start up local radio and TV stations that are more "old fashioned" if you will. Counter the screaming RW nutjob TV and radio that we have been subjected to since the advent of cable TV and the internet.

Schools- Start pushing for information science to be part of the curriculum.

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Response to essme (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:18 AM

25. Hillary's big plans were what you call pushing the party back

to its roots, creating good new jobs, raising incomes, etc. Realizing how incredibly valuable that would have been, and the enormous ground we've lost by not doing it, is what I mean about getting smart.

As for starting up new local stations, I'd love to have one in my town, but we can't force people to watch and I suspect most would fail. We could (WHEN we can) return to and improve on the Fairness Doctrine. Require all forms of existing news media to provide at least an hour a day of reliable news information people need. Fox can survive an hour of news that meets federal requirements and skips the lies and distortions.

I haven't thought about information science in high schools. Are you thinking of the part that teaches what information is? Or?

Regarding use of "populism," btw, that doesn't mean "the people," though some misuse it that way. When they're professionals who know better I immediately question their motives. Populist techniques, at their worst, and they usually are at their worst, are used to gain power by inflaming and harnessing aggressively negative emotions with promises to overthrow the established government. Those they appeal to are not idealists and builders, and they're not ideologues, they're in it for the destruction.

As we see by the many who supported both socialist Sanders and fascist white nationalist Trump at both or different times, and the many more who could have. Both leaders tried to woo each other's followers, who saw them both as creating the chance to smash all opposition that they gleefully threatened on social media. Trump was their main chance by far of course. Sanders seemingly was preferred by those more motivated by populism's typically economically progressive goals than by its socially conservative antagonisms. Notably, when he tried to rein them in because they were drawing way too much attention, they refused. He couldn't control them.

I'm going on about that because if we do lose our nation, it'll be to a populist leader heading up a populist mob, with a vast crowd of clueless partisans running behind.



The Personality Trait That Is Ripping America (and the World) Apart: People who are antagonistic resonate more with populist messages
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-personality-trait-that-is-ripping-america-and-the-world-apart/

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Response to essme (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:34 AM

30. Your media point is well taken. A good example would be Johnny Wood, who was very popular for

decades in the SW VA/NE TN area not far from where you were. Never heard him delve into politics at all and ended every broadcast with a fishing forecast. Maybe he was more political off camera, I have no idea. But he was real to a wide range of the viewers. Unfortunately the station he was on is (I think) now owned by Sinclair.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 07:52 AM

2. I agree

I like a good scary story myself (please don’t hate in me for that) but have noticed some of the YouTube channels I used to like just for fun getting a decidedly RW conspiracy angle going on in the background. It really hadn’t been there much before. I think a lot of different not so mainstream, fairly benign, folks online are being over-exposed to these wild conspiracy theories by others in online groups, like I think happened to a lot of “Crunchy Liberals”, I have been a bit crunchy during periods in my life, but years ago I found most of those sites benign, then the anti-vaccers started showing up and it was hard to take anyone there seriously on anything they said. From what I read about Qanon, it has also slipped in.

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Response to get the red out (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:01 AM

5. That's what I am seeing also

Nothing wrong with a good scary story- there's a reason Edgar A. Poe is still popular!

But, yes- I am seeing authoritarian tendencies in some of what we thought of as "crunchy liberals." Couple of my grad school friends went "anti-vax" around the twist, and I am guilty of responding on their FB pages, "WTF? You KNOW better than this horseshit."

So, I am not always nice.

That white supremacist "church" that is "pagan," ---recently in the news, let me find the article and I'll post it- concerns me greatly.

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Response to essme (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:32 AM

15. A "pagan" white supremacist church?? Sounds bizarre and contradictory.

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Response to niyad (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:39 AM

16. It's the Asatru Folk Assembly

Here's a link to a recent story about them; you may also google them to learn more about the organization:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/after-permit-approved-whites-only-church-small-minnesota-town-insists-n1251838

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Response to essme (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:47 AM

19. Ah, yes, of course. That group was discussed here recently. Very weird, nasty bunch. I will have to

look into them more carefully.

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Response to essme (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:59 AM

21. Odenists are everywhere.

They have co-opted Norse Mythology.

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Response to Maggiemayhem (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 11:17 AM

35. I have a personal axe to grind with those clowns.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:06 AM

7. I recently came to the realization these modern cults are built around a hashtag or...

the equivalent.

These groups don't exist in any physical sense. All of the interaction is transmitted via a membership in some virtual group. It is through membership in this group that information is passed.

What is dangerous IMHO is that the membership in these groups is largely anonymous. The people in them are who they portray themselves as being. (Yes, I know... That's even true here at teh DU.) So, members in the group tend to fill in the blanks about those around them in the group with what they assume about themselves. AKA Projection. People are able to be members of a group of people they feel share all of the beliefs and biases of every member of the group. What's not to like about such a situation? Well, a lot as it turns out. Because it's all false and shocking when any individual member finds out their long held perceptions of the group are almost completely wrong.

Case in point, the turbulence in the white supremacist Proud Boys recently when the larger group discovered their 'leader' was hispanic.

Back to the hashtags, these are the 'call to arms' or rallying point for the group. Often incomplete or misleading information is passed via these mechanisms. The information is also only partially and in an asynchronous manner presented to the group as a whole. Again, leaving the individual members to fill in the blank with what they believe is the larger picture. AKA Projection.

It's a giant and very dangerous version of the game telephone. Where the sender is not even sure exactly who is receiving what is being sent or how it's being interpreted. No feedback for allowing the transmitter of information to shape their messages into a form which is unambiguous to the group. The group members all think what they wanted said is what was said. Reinforced by an 'aha! I thought so.'

There's a big element of 'reading between the lines' involved, too. Which, I believe is to blame for many of the raging conspiracy theories which snow ball and are seemingly immortal no matter how much evidence to the contrary is provided.



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Response to Hugin (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:21 AM

8. Great points-

I think some DUer's should get together and study this.

To ignore these cult members as "silly," is going to be at the peril of living in a theocracy- scary as crap- or seeing the US split up.

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Response to essme (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 08:34 AM

9. I'm glad you brought the subject up...

It has been weighing heavily on me for awhile now.

Your points in the OP are pieces of the puzzle as well. Worth pondering.

These same elements are unfortunately present in face-to-face interactions. Filling in the blanks of a whole picture in a changeable world seems to be a human thing to do. The lightning fast virtual piecemeal information highway has boosted it to new and ugly extremes.


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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:18 AM

12. Thank you for bringing up this very important subject.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:21 AM

13. Too bad they can't distribute the flavor-aid over the net

Only poison for the mind.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:30 AM

14. I had a co-worker until last year who was the same way

This is the common thread that runs through them all; they think they have "Figured Out What's Really Going On". They are the ones that are in on The BIG Truth that THEY Don't Want You to Know".

The media lies to us because they're corporatists and Communists (apparently simultaneously )
The McConnell/Romney GOP wing is no different than the Democratic Party, it's one big uni-party Depp State
Covid is a deepfake lie funded in Wuhan by Bill Gates so he can microchip us.

And so on. The fact that some of their tirades occasionally stumble into a bit of truth (Hollywood has indeed had a pedophile and "casting couch" problem, the vaunted Food Pyramid of the 80s that pushed low fat and high grains was terrible) only makes their mania worse.

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Response to Tarc (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:40 AM

17. You could have written the emails from my friend

Add in some more word salad, and some "newsmax" links-- and a few youtube videos, and you got it down pat.

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Response to essme (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:52 AM

20. Oh it gets even funnier/sadder, then

My guy thought that newsmax and breitbart were "tolerable, but have some deep state sympathies".

He was more a "I found a doctor with a youtube channel, he says wearing a mask will increase your risk of sinus infections!" type.

He also worships the ground Ron Paul walks on. Rand too, though pops is the Gold Standard.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:44 AM

18. A person whom I have known for about ten years is slipping deeper into the morass.

Usually I pay no attention as she lectures, but the other day I responded to one section of the nonsense. She was going on and on about how she is watching all the maps that show ship and plane movements, especially in CA and NV. Implied that she had stumbled on some deep secret. She got really annoyed when I remarked that certainly the whereabouts of the ships are generally known, and flight crews are always training. None of it top secret. She got very quiet, then huffed, "I didn't say it was secret." But she had been going on and on about "being in the know" while everyone else is being duped.

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere."

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Response to niyad (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:04 AM

23. Certain phrases are starting to trigger me: "There is no doubt you didn't know about this"

"Most people have never heard about this"
"This isn't covered in the media"
"Fake news"

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Response to essme (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:23 AM

26. They are a great warning. That first phrase came before a lecture on the secret military

Tribunals, including the ones that executed mccain and bush sr. I got the "why are you rolling your eyes?" (I wasn't, but close.) I replied, "because none of that bs is true. And if there were such tribunals, you certainly would not have access to the transcripts." Fuming silence. Change of subject.

My head hurts just remembering.

Do you get the one about the person being in contact with someone very high up in the cia? I love that one.

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Response to niyad (Reply #26)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:29 AM

28. "did you get the one about the person being in contact with someone very high up in the cia?"

Oh jesus christ- you just damned near verbatim quoted an email. Here is a direct quote from one I did not delete:

"The CIA and a lot of the
Pentagon have moved people out of DC and put them in the underground
continuation of government facility in N/VA"

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Response to essme (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:39 AM

31. Or the "D.U.M.B.'s" my current favourite. The deep underground military bunkers where all the

patriots will be hiding. My response, "oh, the Cold War bomb shelters??"

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Response to niyad (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:28 AM

27. People are lost and looking for meaning in life.

The world is more interesting to them when they know some secret.

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Response to Johnny2X2X (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:43 AM

32. Certainly a lot of them are. This person has never evinced any philosophical quandaries, or deep

existential angst. Superiority, on the other hand. . .

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:59 AM

22. I shared this with a friend

He lived in Asheville in the early 80s. He is now 70, retired and lives in Southern Cal.

I wonder how he will respond.

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Response to TNNurse (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:07 AM

24. I was there starting in '84

You may tell him that I lived between Kimberly and Merriman Ave- near the Synagogue

Oh, Asheville was fun back them- also ask him if he ever went to what I now refer to as "the Real Malaprops." (of course, it's still "real," it's a bookstore- but, back in the day it was two doors down from it's present location and avante gard!)

The Stone Soup was an amazing place to grab a quick lunch or a yummy loaf of bread- it's gone now- and the French Broad Food Coop was wonderful.

Earthfare was a small place downtown on Lexington- we called it "Dinner for the Rich"

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Response to essme (Reply #24)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:30 AM

29. We visited and have been to Malaprops more than once.

I remember Merriman Ave, but do not remember what street he lived on. Remember Stone Soup as well. It was a great place to visit. He was an RN, worked at Mission.

We just live on the other side if the mountains in East TN.

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:59 AM

33. K&R. There was a totally fantastic article I read at cracked.com a couple of years ago,

titled "The 5 Stupidest People On The Planet (Are All Donald Trump)", and it goes a long way in describing the mindset of so many of his most devoted followers. Here's a little excerpt...

During the debates, Donald complained that George Patton was spinning in his grave because we announced we were going into Mosul. "Why not go in quiet?" he asked many times. It was most likely rhetorical, but also so ignorant that one moderator accidentally answered it for him. Also, Patton famously led an insane decoy army to distract the Nazis. Saying he's spinning in his grave over someone being bold is like saying, "I didn't even read the Netflix description of the movie about the guy I'm invoking" and then adding, "It is truly impossible to miss how terrible I am. I am a walking DO NOT IRON WHILE WEARING SHIRT label. People see me and wonder what helplessly uninformed assholes created a need for me."

Trump kept referring to a secret military plan to defeat ISIS which he would only reveal after he was made president. This lie was almost cute, like when your boyfriend pretends he knew it was your birthday, or when Mike Huckabee's son says, "The dog was ritually murdered this way when I found it!" But I don't think Trump was lying! He really thought he had solved ISIS when his very good brain invented the "sneak attack." Paradoxically, he knew it was brilliant, but also so obvious that the generals were stupid for not thinking of it. I know a lot of absurdity is getting thrown around in this article, but he actually said that, and Mike Huckabee's son actually murdered a dog. And Trump's proctologist absolutely adds buttholes to all flesh he touches. It happens so often that he's stopped apologizing for it.


https://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-people-planet-are-all-donald-trump/

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Response to essme (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 11:11 AM

34. KR&B. This discussion is fascinating. n/t

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