“Members are made to feel part of an elite corps of mankind. This feeling of being special, of participating in the most important acts in human history with a vanguard of committed believers, is strong emotional glue to keep people sacrificing and working hard.”
“Ironically, members of cults look down on anyone involved in any other cult groups. They are quick to acknowledge that ‘those people are in a cult’ or ‘They are the ones who are brainwashed.’ They are unable to step out of their own situations and look at themselves objectively.”
“The rank-and-file member is humble before superiors and potential recruits but arrogant to outsiders. Almost all members are told when being recruited that they too will become leaders one day. However, advancement will be achieved only by outstanding performance or by political appointment. In the end, of course, the real power elite stays small. Most members do not become leaders but stay among the rank and file.”
“Nevertheless, they consider themselves better, more knowledgeable, and more powerful than anyone else in the world. As a result, cult members feel more responsible than they have ever felt in their lives. They walk around feeling as though the world sits on their shoulders. Cult members don’t know what outsiders mean when they say you shouldn’t try to escape reality and responsibility by joining a cult.”
In 2007 I wrote:
‘It’s just a server, right? No, we don’t walk around feeling like a part of some elite corps of mankind. But in Delphi, we do walk around feeling like we’re a part of some elite group of forums. Some feel their places in these forums are “more important” than others. The things they do as members and within these forums, are of “serious importance” and it’s “their personal responsibility” to this “elite group of forums” to continue these tasks.
Everyone has to be “committed” to those tasks. Even if it means cutting themselves off from people they enjoy talking to. The second paragraph from the top….How many of the factions have looked at another faction group, especially one they have issues with, and said…”That’s not US, that’s THEM.” How many others responded back with “Oh no, I don’t think so, it’s not US, it’s YOU“.
Meanwhile, I can just imagine what the outsider contingents reading this blog are thinking [Delphi has a separate but attached blogging platform]. Bet you some are saying, “Yep. I knew it. Those crazy assholes always have thought they were better than anybody else in Delphi.” Others might be saying “Damn, that explains why when you troll one of those forums, all the other ones jump fast to dive bomb you too, even when they hate each other.”
Yeah, anybody from some other part of Delphi that ever made the mistake of checking out this end of Delphi, got torched and hauled ass, who might now be reading this blog, they’re likely saying “Oh, it’s definitely ALL you assholes. Fuck that, I’ll never try to be friendly to any of you people ever again.” The “Rank-and-File Member”, yeah, humble to those they consider superior, and extremely arrogant to anyone outside these forums, or outside their own particular clan or group. Let me ask you all something.
How many people have been in these forums since 1999, or before 1999? How many of them are considered “Elders” and how many of them are “just rank-and-file” “nobodies” except to those who call them family? Bet you there’s a LOT more than you realize. I can think of SEVERAL who should be getting a lot more respect than they do, if one were to go with “length of time served on this server.” Not even counting [my faction] at all.
But the “Elite” of the “Elite” is a very small group. In order to be any kind of leader in these forums, you got to be a whole lot of arrogant. It’s expected. If you’re too nice, you catch hell from all sides until you “go away”. Either that means leaving this end of Delphi, or leaving Delphi altogether. And too many of the “rank-and-file” get stepped on unless they find someone else to protect them.
Or they fight back, with everything they are worth. Sometimes they become such a nuisance they get banned even by those who otherwise would not participate in “community” bans. That’s why we have to keep our forums under moderation, and our chats under a 24-48 hour post hold. Elitism; “I’m better than you are”. You have to become part of the pecking order, part of some “hierarchy”. Accept your “superiors” and do as you’re told, or rebel, and that’s just to stay on this server.
If you rebel, you better be one stubborn, arrogant asshole who is determined to stay and be a thorn in the sides of the superior elite. But really, what are we all doing here? Delphi isn’t “the world”, it’s a server; one server community among many. Nobody needs to feel responsible in terms of policing it, or the people who come here. The world isn’t going to come to a crashing end if a server community decides to collectively run amok and be all “out of control”.
It might be funny as hell…but the world won’t end. For that matter, I seriously doubt the server would crash either. And none of us get to check out on real world responsibilities in order to play around on this server. If you are, then you might want to reconsider it. Escapism can only go so far. After that, the fantasy ends, and the reality of it will bite you in the ass if you haven’t been keeping up with it like you should.’
But that was what I writing to the members of Delphi in 2007; delicately dancing around offline realities either because they were unknown, or they were known, but I was not about to expose anyone to the harsh criticism or mockery from their various rivals. But you don’t go through a virtual maelstrom for years, friend one day, rival and enemy the next, to ally of necessity, to friend, then back to rival without learning some things about each other.
Even when you don’t learn any realities first hand, you can learn a lot by someone’s choosing silence on their personal offline lives. You could tell who was going through a particularly bad patch offline by how quick to anger they were on the server; how fast they would jump to believe something negative about somebody else, and pursue that somebody like a torpedo on a gun boat. Sometimes it was painful illness; sometimes it was family dysfunction, sometimes both.
People go online to communicate for various reasons; people move away from friends and family for jobs and end up isolated. People have troubled marriages; some have troubled relationships with parents. Some were retired and bored; some were working but had child or adult care duties on the side. Like other places on the net, Delphi was an online social outlet; people would use truthful real life information and role play as a means to hide or manipulate.
Some people undoubtedly got a sense of power from playing “The Delphi Game” especially if they succeeded in pulling one over on a rival. I cannot speculate on if anyone ever tried the tactics involved in “The Delphi Game” offline but if they did, it is probably safe to assume they were mostly successful because verbal communication is much more difficult to keep a record of unlike text based communications where nothing ever truly disappears.
There was very much an elitist mentality within the Delphi “Dark Forums”. First, in being a recognized member of the “Dark Forums”, versus a member from some other part of Delphi, and there was status in being a member of a faction. There was a little more status if you were a recognized member of a faction’s leadership (often more than one), and then still more if one was the top leader of the faction.
Then there was still more “status” if the faction was led by someone whose member profile dated to 1999 or before. Especially if it was acknowledged by the self-appointed protectors of Delphi Dark Forums faction; but there were also a number of members whose profiles dated back to 1999 or before, but they chose to not be faction leaders. It was not uncommon for such individuals to get treated disrespectfully on the boards because they had no faction of their own.
Ultimately it didn’t take much to make someone feel important in Delphi. People coming in to Delphi to get away from offline situations or even from other online situations were already predisposed to seeking behaviors; knowledge, companionship, positive feedback and support, in some cases validation and approval from others. Factions were adept at positioning themselves as important, special, and elite within the Dark Forums community in Delphi.
Today, individuals, groups, and organizations of all kinds invest a great deal of time and money learning how to create and market a brand image, either for themselves or for a product or a service they wish to sell. Image is almost as important to a business organization as the product or service it sells; often more important than employee training, development wellness or retention. Image is often more important than research and development and risk assessment and mitigation.
High quality marketing brings the organization to the attention of whomever it is trying to market itself to. High quality marketing and branding produces a desired image that attracts individuals- the stakeholders, which is a term that covers anybody and everybody that has a stake or a role in the organization- hence stockholders, employees, other organizations, clients, customers, etc. This means marketing is critical for influencing customers and desirable employees.
This is why customer service on an organizational front line is important; the rank and file usually are customer service oriented while the leadership is usually considered elite from the executive level on up. It doesn’t take much to make a customer, a consumer, feel important. For one thing, to a business organization they are a necessary component- hard to sell products or services without consumers. Customer service is all about providing knowledge, positive feedback, support, validation, approval.
Organizations are much like Delphi’s factions, adept at positioning themselves as important, special, and elite in their various markets. They strive to be the leading organization in their markets, competing with various rival organizations; this is generally what capitalism is all about; providing goods and services to consumers. Ensuring that your organization has the very best talent in order to gain an edge on competition. So they can afford the best marketing services, make the most profits.
Likewise, there are organizations that exist for other reasons other than business; there are political groups, religious groups and charities. Each has it’s elite level and each has its rank and file level; leadership will always consist of an elite cadre. Rank and file may, depending on the kind of organization, either stay rank and file, or move up, possibly into the inner circle, the elite. However, it is also very common to see organizations cultivate the elitist mentality even among the rank and file when it comes to outsiders.
Almost nothing works better to unify a group, large or small, than a proverbial “enemy at the gates” narrative and the internal fostering of an elitist mentality. Business organizations might try to foster such a mentality in a consumer base; to establish brand loyalty and insure future profit. But groups that depend on recruitment, like political and religious groups will generate an elitist mentality to gain influence, power, and control over members; especially if they need to leverage them for profit or threat.
***This is part 23 of a series of posts on cults and cult indoctrination online. It will focus on the book that played such an integral role in ending the indoctrination process on the Delphi Forums server; Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan. This series will be heavily revised and updated; the purpose is to show that Delphi is not unique.
The same process occurs elsewhere on the internet; Al-Qaeda and Islamic State did not invent it; they did not even innovate it. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, none of these sites were first to find themselves the vehicles of fake news, propaganda, or truth decay. There are much bigger cults out in the world; awareness is key to stopping the cycles.