Listeners: there’s a revolution going on. Legions of Twitter counselors and Instagram therapists has risen up to offer unsolicited sermons on cults, cult leaders, and cult recovery. With COVID closing down the studios, every third yoga teacher has become an expert in trauma. They’re starting Facebook groups. They’re selling courses. They’re doing their Family Systems work out in the open, displaying heroic levels of vulnerability. We’re just waiting for the first QAnon recovery MLM to launch on Kickstarter. We know it’s coming. There will be oils, and breathing exercises, and some very long emotional check-ins on Zoom.
Meanwhile, Netflix is distinguishing itself from GaiaTV, the Netflix of cults, with an explosion of cult documentaries. There’s a gold rush on. Scouts for all of the streaming companies are lined up outside of the ashrams, vetting survivors to see who has the chops to carry a series. We seem to love them, but sometimes not as much as the sociopaths themselves. The cult doc is the new true crime chill.
Beneath the feeding frenzy, there’s real work to be done. The QAnon Casualities subreddit has 235K followers as of today. We get dozens of emails and DMs from people who have had their lives upended by conspirituality and cults. We have hints and whispers to offer them, but no answers. Yes, we live in a capitalist hellscape in which emotional turmoil of the people is commodified and sold back to them in the form of workshops and bingeable series. But we are also able to host Rachel Bernstein, cult recovery therapist, to get some clarity on the basic phenomena that dominate our commons today.
Program note: We’re going to try to stretch this out to 90 minutes so that we can each say we got a 45-minute free consult on why TF we’re doing this job.