What exactly is a cult? How do you distinguish a cult from a regular religion? Or for that matter, from any group?

It’s actually a very difficult question to nail down, though many have tried. Cult specialist Rick Ross (not the singer) has laid out a few basic identifiers:

  1. A charismatic leader who increasingly becomes the object of worship
  2. A process of indoctrination
  3. Exploitation of members be it economic, sexual, or otherwise

With that in mind…

What’s something that’s not a cult, but feels like a cult? from AskReddit

That’s not exactly exhaustive of course, but it’s the kind of thing that gets Redditors thinking…what else is kind of a cult?

Let’s get their thoughts.

1. Under Armour

Under Armour’s corporate culture creeps me out.

Companies should not have an official chant.

I would consider them cult-adjacent at the very least.

– SoManyStarWipes

2. The Tech Industry

If you are a tech worker – your job.

Upper management puts in foosball tables, orders lunch and has off site things on weekends (which is a daycare nightmare for parents), and expects you to spend every waking minute thinking about your job and having a device ready to answer email at any time of the day or night.

Then, they have quarterly layoffs where they sweep out the unpopular.

Yet, they want your loyalty and insist you are family and blah blah “cultural fit”.

– VapoursAndSpleen

3. House Music

One of my favorite genres, but the hardcore fans make it almost unbearable. It’s just constantly one upping.

Bro, I’m just trying to party and vibe.

– soonerguy11

4. Fanboys

Brand fanboys such as Apple fanboys, Playstation fanboys, etc.

They definitely feel like a cult since they revere these brands and cannot take any criticism.

– Bombaci_Mulayim123

5. Jeep

Jeep owners and waving at each other.

My friend would go out of his way to wave at other jeep people

– Dodofuzzic

6. Academia

You slave away your youth, eyes set on the gleaming promises of the 0.1% who made it: tenured faculty.

And when you realize it’s a pyramid scheme (just spend X years and publish Y papers and mentor others to advance!) and pay to play (yes, you PAY journals to get your papers published!), you’ve wasted your youth, you’ve wasted those years of good health on building a CV that isn’t really functionally different from any of the other thousands of disillusioned PhD candidates out there.

Meanwhile, friends and family are asking, “wait, you’re still in school? I thought you were the smart one”, etc. Etc. Your dumb friends from college are out-earning you by the thousands. You don’t have a family of your own. You hardly have papers to call your own.

But now you’re stuck. Can’t get a nice job post-phd without a postdoc, right? So you feed into the system a little more. Mentor some other bright-eyed youngsters. Feed them into the hungry system that eats their passion and spits them out when they’re just depressed husks of what they once were.

Now you have two postdocs under your belt, as many papers as the children you don’t have yet. A wife you haven’t met yet. Or maybe you met her, went on one date with her, cut it short because you had to tend to a mouse colony emergency and she got away. Your hair, what’s left of it, is turning gray.

Now it’s time to apply for professorial positions.

– HappyHappyKidney

7. Kpop Stans

They just scare me and they’re all so obsessed with the boys and girls.

– YourLocal_brit

8. Horse Girls

It just feels like they know how to talk to them and when you turn your back they are gonna laugh and talk about you in horse…..

– Dark-Onion-lad

9. High School Marching Bands

Every weekend hanging out with each other for competitions, rehearsals before/after-school, and with any free time you do have you’re with band friends.

All I ever talked about was matching band. Still love it though, with all the memories I’ve made!

– poliomikayla

10. Atheism?

It gets weird when they pull out their little Starfleet-looking medallion.

Good job, bro-dawg, you turned being a non-religion into a religion.

– Guvnuh_T_Boggs

11. Keto

My husband is on a keto kick and I swear to God every single conversation includes keto this and keto that.

Keep in mind my husband does not cook or buy groceries so basically it’s my job to research and provide him with all of this horses**t. I’m so sick of this crap.

Mind you I have decided to burn him out on this crap by only cooking chicken and making salads for EVERY SINGLE MEAL. I’m not going out and buying almond flour for some crappy recipe that taste like saw dust just so he can decide he hates it.

My husband is not over weight and is constantly jumping from one fad diet to the next because he perceives constantly being on a diet as healthy, it’s more about everyone knowing how much he takes care of himself. Which is all fine and good but he’s not “taking care of himself” I am… I do all the work, the prep, the cooking, the shopping, the research, just to watch him try something I put all this work into go in the trash because he doesn’t like it.

The wasted money, time, and crap I spend literally hours a week reading about a diet made for epileptic children is infuriating.

– expect_less

12. MLMs

General knowledge is such that MLMs and pyramid schemes are very easy to identify and debunk, so they have to transform it into an ideology pretty quickly after you join.

If you can convince your new initiates that everyone else criticizing the Cause is against progressivism, and that you’re actually fighting for a better solution to capitalism or whatever stupid sh*t, and that YOU are the TRUE core of the Cause, when people tell you the stupid cult you’ve joined is ridiculous, you will take it personally and it will re-enforce the us-versus-them isolationism that fuels cults.

Watching crypto currency NFTs go from a dumb meme made for trading drawings to an art auction platform that gets immediately debunked as a pyramid scheme exploiting tech-illiterate artists to “we’re revolutionizing art as a whole.

We are a brand new system, a way for artists to be powerful and influential, we are changing the world, if you disagree with this you are LITERALLY a luddite that hates art, the world, and us” happened literally over the course of two weeks lol.

– No-Bewt

13. Crossfit

• extensive use of cult-generated information ✅
• require members to internalize the group‘s doctrine ✅
• reduce complexities into buzz words ✅
• regulate member‘s diet ✅

– Infinite_Advantage_5

14. Homeowners Associations

Used to work in a gated community pool. Some were cool, but most were the most awful bunch of wealthy twats.

Never wanted to follow the rules or cooperate and their kids always acted like little sh*ts. It also felt kind of incestuous as well because those people were occasionally f*cking each other.

Not in the pool. I would just hear the pool gossip.

– Icy-Pin-8226

15. You

Most fandoms, honestly.

– RmmThrowAway

Blessings be upon you and yours.

What else would you add to this list?

Tell us in the comments.