Updated: Feb 10, 2022
By Amanda Montell
(or 5 out of 5 stars)
What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has . . .
I admit I'm one of those people who has an obsession with cults. I need to binge watch every new documentary that cable, Hulu, Prime, Netflix and Apple have to offer. My Audible credits are eaten up faster than I can accrue them on the latest survivors memoir. Know a good podcast? Send those recommendations my way.
I often joke that I am in a cult of people who are obsessed with cults! Well, it's kind of a joke. I just can't figure out why? WHY? WHYYYYYYYY do people stay in cults?
Which is why I bought Cultish
We so often hear the explanation that cult leaders are so "charismatic". That they posses "It", whatever "It' is. That they somehow gather large groups of otherwise sane people to do unfathomable things just by using their charm. I don't know about you, but after countless viewings of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and David Koresh, this explanation was just not satisfactory to me. They seem no more charismatic, charming, or wielders of "It" than most other leaders of non-cultish groups. And not as good looking! While I don't discount these things play are part in cult leaders, Cultish has taught me more.
The language, the lingo, the oh so exclusive way they talk to us adds a lot of draw to cult leaders.
It's not just traditional cult leaders we have to look out for, it's businesses as well!
Ever have an old friend contact you out of the blue wanting to catch up? Then discover they are only trying to recruit you to a Multi Level Marketing company? (I'm looking at you Amway!)
Wanted to get in shape and joined the latest fitness craze only to be sucked in, signed up, and stalked by instructors and classmates when you miss a class? Not to mention broke?
These are big examples we've all probably heard about. Montell doesn't stop there though. From Amway and SoulCycle to Social Media Influencers and Corporate Cultures.
Montell explains in layman's terms what the language of cults is all about. As humans we want to belong, we desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It's just how we are made. But she gives us plenty of red flags to look for when people or businesses want to exploit us for their own gain.
I really appreciated and enjoyed her insights. So much so, I think I'll have to re-watch some documentaries just to see if I can spot the language. 😉