Nothing is more fascinating than learning about the human condition. We are truly peculiar beings in that we are all so different but wildly the same. Humans operate on a pretty singular plane, trying to satisfy our basic needs and validation is a big one.
It’s been said that the prime characteristic of a cult leader is charisma. When you pair that with wit and the gift of gab — it’s a dangerous mix. In many social situations there is always a figurehead: the popular one or the people person. It’s just like any other hierarchy and the rest just fall in line.
The concept of ‘following’ is ingrained in our psyche. We are trained to follow the lead of adults and authority figures from a very young age. When we do so, we might get a little pat on the head and the reassurance that we are doing good and obedient.
The need for reassurance and validation makes us feel good. That’s part of the ingenuity of social media; it plays on our unconscious needs. Have you ever noticed what happens in comment sections? Click on any news article or highly viewed post and you’ll see the same thing. A few people can literally steer the conversation in a positive or negative way. You’ll read the same comment thirty times because it’s feeding the need to be a part of something.
This notion of following is exactly how easily the negative aspects of this behavior, like bullying, can spiral out of control. The mind is easily susceptible to influence when under the right circumstances and people can be quite unsavory. Gangs and terrorist groups operate under the same umbrella, they are still feeding the unconscious need to be apart of something, regardless of how harmful it may be.
Cult like behavior can also be seen in a less negative way with fandom or allegiance to political parties. The idolization of these groups or people is all consuming. The fervor behind worshipping specific things isn’t necessarily as bad as bullying or gang activity but it still warps the mind. The need to be so strongly connected to people or things still stems from the feeling of lacking something. Obsession manifests from voids that we are actively trying to be fill.
It’s possible to have an idea so ingrained in your mind that it becomes part of your identity. It can happen with anything or anyone. We use these ideas to help us be visible, to fill our voids and to make us feel important. As long as we have these needs, we will always be subject to this mentality.