Paperclips & Mobs

For several days I have tried very intentionally to be off of social media. I recognize that some of my social media consumption allows me to ruminate on certain topics that I want to allow to have their right place in my life, rather than have a consuming place.

I’m trying to channel my inner Elsa and “let it go”!

That being said, I do still keep up with different threads and posts and have become a Facebook creeper on specific topics.

One group I’ve been following often has people who ask for specific examples of egregious acts or a basis for accusations for displeasure with an <educational curriculum/method>. I saw a perfect example yesterday and, though I debated saying anything here on this blog, I wanted to write about it because interactions like this are feeling more and more sinister to me.

I’m “vaguebooking”. Sigh. I’ll try to be more specific without being too specific for the rest of the post.

A few days ago I wrote the post Bamboozled and in it I explored a list of questions about how to tell if you are in a cult.

Consider this:

  • If someone criticizes the leader, the group or the ideas, do you have to explain why they are wrong?
  • Is there a strong urgency to explain the benefits to those who are critical?

Now, the rest of the story.

I follow a group for homeschoolers with close to 40,000 members. There is no particular affiliation within that group for one type of curriculum or method more than another.

A group member posted:

Original Post: “<Educational company/method>??? (It would be for 4yr old and 8 yr old) … Any input, experiences, positive or negative would be deeply appreciated!!”

At this moment there are 38 comments on that particular post. The first comments are positive about the <educational company/method>. “We love it!” and “Here’s a video of my awesome child repeating awesome things she learned in the <educational company/method>!”

There are 10 positive posts about the <educational company/method> before the first negative comment:

Negative Review: “My children are 11 and 7. We were in <educational company/method> for six years (and in leadership as <local leader> for 5 years). I have recently resigned and we have left <educational company/method> completely. I have many concerns that I would be happy to share privately. Feel free to message me.”

There are a few responses of people saying they will PM the post author, but do you know the quick reply to that first negative comment?

Reply to Negative Review: “Please be careful sharing information that might not be true. There’s lots of misinformation out there about things.”

OK. Full stop.

Let’s assess what just happened there. A person asked for both positive and negative reviews.

The original poster receives feedback that is supportive of the <educational company/method>.

The moment that someone says something negative, another facebook community member jumps into disparage and police that negative opinion.

Here are the underlying themes of the comment:

A Threat. “Please be careful.”

A Spiritual Nudge to Not Gossip. “Sharing information that might not be true.”

A Devaluing of the Experience of the Poster. “Misinformation about a lot of things.”

That simple little comment, only 18 words long, is there and lends a cloud of questionability on the previous comment. For goodness sakes, the woman states she’s been in leadership for six years! Wouldn’t that lead someone to believe she might know what she’s talking about? That’s she’s speaking from her own experience rather than in hypothetical? I mean she actually said that she was concerned due to her own experience!

Additionally, she’s leaving it open for people to approach her privately for feedback, which, in the world of social media, is a pretty classy way to go about expressing some disgruntlement.

And yet, the person who replies to her comment feels threatened enough to discredit her experience publicly with their own comment.

Is that normal behavior?

Let’s go back to the list of questions about whether you’re in a cult:

  • If someone criticizes the leader, the group or the ideas, do you have to explain why they are wrong?
  • Is there a strong urgency to explain the benefits to those who are critical?

I recognize that this is a very simple interaction, but it is an example of the mob mentality that keeps people from speaking up when they decide to leave <educational curriculum/method>. Complete strangers suddenly have opinions, and go on the offense when they hear a whisper of negativity.

This is not normal behavior. <Educational curriculum/method> doesn’t have to do a thing from a corporate level when the PR police of the local membership is on the job.

Not trying to beat the dead horse, but let’s rephrase this interaction into something else, something less charged and yet still involves a tool that makes life easier.

“<PAPERCLIPS>??? (It would be for 4yr old and 8 yr old) … Any input, experiences, positive or negative would be deeply appreciated!!”

“My children are 11 and 7. We have used PAPERCLIPS for six years (I even sold them for awhile!). However, I have recently resigned and we have stopped using PAPERCLIPS completely. I have many concerns that I would be happy to share privately. Feel free to message me.”

“Please be careful sharing information that might not be true. There’s lots of misinformation out there about things.”

{Pause for a moment to clear the perplexed look from your face because no one really cares about the misinformation of PAPERCLIPS. That seems like a really strange response.)

“Herd mentality, mob mentality and pack mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis.”

My guess is that the person who wrote the caution post is trying to “do the right thing.”

Maybe they’ve seen posts they think are wrong or vindictive about <educational curriculum/method> in other areas and are trying to stifle the negativity.

Maybe they just can’t stand the idea of someone having a differing opinion than they possess about the positive impact of <educational curriculum/method>.

Who knows? I’m willing to assume they were trying to do they best they can with the emotional/social tools at their disposal.

BUT, I think it’s important for us to recognize that these interactions are happening all over the place on social media. At their extreme, they’re bullying and disheartening. At their mildest they’re stifling free discussions.

And it’s another example of the mob mentality that has me scratching my head and wondering about this <educational curriculum/method>.

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved
Facebook Comments
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *