Can A Youtuber Be A Cult Leader?

I’ve been researching YouTube communities for a few weeks now for an upcoming book and found myself pondering a surprising question. Before we dive in I’d like to remind everyone that I don’t have the answers, just an overwhelming curiosity. Also some of the videos contain naughty language, so be aware.

Communities exist because, as we know, YouTube is a vast website where thousands of videos are uploaded every second and, without individuals of common interest pulling together and promoting each other, they’d all be lost in a vacuum. The thing is, people are people and, no matter how much we’d love to, we don’t really get along – at least certain people can’t with each other. I’ve noticed each community (Booktube, Storytime, Ranters, Vegans… oh God, the Vegans… we’ll come to that) will have its antagonists or people who just don’t agree with the way others are doing things, the others often take sides, and sometimes it leads to the disintegration of the group and sometimes not. It’s the same with any large mass of people, online or otherwise, it’s just a new platform for all this to happen.

There’s another element to online disagreements though, one which is both fascinating and disturbing: can a YouTuber become a cult leader? It sounds completely daft but more and more I’ve wondered at the possibility. There is a general fear that impressionable people can be lured into cults via the internet, though whether there is any basis in fact is another matter.

One YouTuber years ago jokingly (?) attempted to start his own cult and, interestingly, he’s a person many have since had genuine concerns about. They worry that his young fan base is easily taken in by what he tells them and so on. But does that make it possible for him to be a real cult leader? In order to decide that I suppose we ought to define what a cult leader is.

The following video demonstrates the common ways a rational person is manipulated and transformed into a follower:

It seems pretty crazy and far-fetched to think someone could manage all this by uploading videos onto a website, right? But some are convinced it’s possible. I suppose we can look at it two ways. When we don’t like someone, we tend to view everything they say and do through the worst possible lens. For example, the lady in the video below felt a YouTuber was disrespecting disabled people and, once she approached him via social media, he didn’t respond well and neither did his followers.

It’s never nice to be spoken to in an unpleasant manner, in real life or online, and it can be mentally upsetting particularly for the very young or those with chronic illness. The seeping in of negativity from online to everyday life once seemed ridiculous to people, but the potential real world damage is becoming clearer.

The lady below points out several entirely plausible things that qualify him as a potential cult leader, and she’s not the only one, but is it also possible she’s seeing them because…well…she doesn’t like him? Or is she right?

And yet… a YouTuber forming a cult doesn’t seem completely impossible. Back to the vegans.

About a year ago troubling aspects of a group known as Raw Till 4 became evident. Led by a very angry pair known as Durian Rider and his girlfriend Freelee (or Diddly Rider and Free Pee as one dissenter refers to them), the Raw Till 4 diet promotes eating large quantities of raw carbohydrates until 4 when you can… eat cooked carbohydrates? I’m not sure. They set up a vegan festival in Thailand where anyone could go and discuss all things vegetably and raw, before in-fighting and accusations of sexual predation (apparently projection on Durian Rider’s part) caused the entry rules to become stricter and stricter, and those on the fringe were denounced as ‘fake vegans,’ until only a hardcore few meeting all the requirements were allowed to attend. Some began noticing the health advice, among other things, was perhaps not up to par:

However the thing that most worried people was the video of a young girl, 16 at the time, defending the pair. She has a history of eating disorders and apparently blindly followed the pair’s teachings. Notice in the video below the moment she brings up concerns from her doctor and Durian Rider tells her to “ignore your doctor, just listen to the king and queen.”

So yes, I don’t think it’s beyond the scope of possibility. I think we ought to be aware, though, of hysteria and making things fit to our way of thinking. Adam Curtis says, after all, that the internet is “an echo chamber, reflecting our beliefs back at us.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen…

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My Top 5 Creepy, Weird Or Strange Information YouTube Channels

Good day! Funny seeing you here, I don’t remember giving you a key. No, you just make yourselves at home. Just try not to spill your drink on the sofa. I’m not calling the police, I’m…doing arm exercises…

When I’m not merrily hob-nobbing at sophisticated cocktail parties or reading the works of the finest minds (it’s true. How can you doubt me?) like most others I watch YouTube channels. My favourites are those that tell me things my little brain was otherwise unaware of and, of course, weird things. These are the best channels in my opinion that combine the two.

You’ll notice I tend to enjoy the skeptics over those who believe in the paranormal. I’d never knock those who believe, my mum is a spiritualist, but I personally enjoy looking into other theories behind spooky goings on. With that in mind, let’s plunge in!

  1. Scare Theater

I don’t know his real name, but Scare Theater creates such informative videos on such obscure subjects that he had to go first. I like his analytical mind, he tends to look for the most logical answers and he goes the extra mile in research. I can imagine him with a spooky detective series in which he’s paired up with a gullible, always getting into trouble partner.

Wpkepkw Debunked

Memory Hole Analysis

2. Rob Dyke 

I don’t always agree with Rob politically (his webs series Why Would You Put That On The Internet focuses on things that annoy him rather than information), but I’ve been a long time fan of Seriously Strange, Anatomy of a Murder and Twisted Tens. Whether it’s serial killers, weird online stories or peculiar events, his videos are professional, interesting and well researched.

10 Most Ironic Deaths in History

10 Disturbing Videos You Can Watch On YouTube

3. ReignBot

As well as looking at bizarre youtubers, videos and channels she also takes a look at grizzly websites and disturbing challenges (never showing anything horrible, mind) and analyses possible hoaxes. The information is very in depth and she favours a calm, reasonable approach.

A Rational Approach To The Marina Joyce Situation

ThatPoppy Explained

4. Cayleigh Elise

Cayleigh is a little more believing than the others (and occasionally perkier) but I find her videos very interesting, particularly the crime ones. A lot of care goes into them and she often manages to tell me things I didn’t know, even about well worn cases most have heard of. Plus her banner art and decor is really pretty.

The Case of Elisa Lam

3 Creepy Ghost Towns

5. The Homicidal Homemaker

If you need a break from all that crime and darkness, why not relax with a nice cake…of eyeballs! OK, that didn’t really work, but this channel is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to try (get Bill to try) some of these recipes.

Quick Tips From the Crypt: “Red Velvet” Rice Krispy Treats

“Dead Alive” Custard

And there we have it. Enjoy!