How To Make a Toxic Community

People join terrible communities as a way to make sense of the madness and manage pain.

  • Create words for in and outgroups. With these words, reinforce the group’s ideology.
    • Assert that you are either X or you are not. There are no in-between. People aren’t complex and must be easily categorized. Your kind neighbour of 20 years who voted for Trump? Racist.
    • Only avowed members of the group know the ‘correct’ definitions of these words. Newcomers must know them and are not allowed to question them.
  • Put a little gold in the chickenfeed: Actually help a few of your members. When you do, and if your help produces any positive outcome, make sure everyone knows about it.
  • Maintain a careful list of must-consumes: authors, books, videos, movies, that support and demonstrate your group’s core values. This is your religion’s canon, your group’s doctrine. Accept no criticism; throw out members who question them.
  • “If it isn’t working, you’re doing it wrong.” You are not praying enough. You are not engaging enough. You do not believe enough. You don’t hate enough.