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I am not in a cult.

05 July 201205:41AMrants

Seriously guys, I'm not in a cult.

This requires some explanation, so I should probably start from the beginning.

THE BACKGROUND In 2007, two regular dudes, who were brothers, in their late twenties from the US decided that as a challenge, they would avoid all text-based communication for a whole year. Five-ish years later, the Vlogbrothers is a fairly well performing Youtube channel. The community around this channel are called Nerdfighters, in much the same way that people who argue about whether Glittercandy or Purple Floss is the best pony call themselves Bronies.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH ME Between a 'watch a bunch of Youtube' procrastination session, a vague curiousity in the existence of internet phenomena in otherwise isolated places like Perth, and the same desire to, y'know, leave the house more that drove me to join an Ultimate frisbee team, I went to a Perth Nerdfighter group event at the Perth writers' festival. Because meeting people off the internet should really be done in public. I went to later ones because, beyond any academic interest in online community blah blah blah, they seemed like a decent group of people.

WHY IT IS NOT A CULT Well, they have yet to ask me to give them money, or get me to kill people, or sell all my belongings and hail the arrival of Dread Cthulhu. There was a little door-knocking involved, but that was for a moderately successful Relay for Life team. Funny thing about getting a bunch of people together with one specific thing in common: they tend to have a lot of other stuff in common too. And it leads to some really cool stuff. Like, we ended up having a one- on-one with an author at aforementioned Writer's festival, cause one of the authors recognised a T-shirt, and had collaborated with John Green, one of the Vlogbrothers, before. And then there was that one time I got invited by a guy I met through this stuff to a Doctor Who quiz night at a uni tavern at a uni I don't even go to and ended up cycling home from the city at 1am. Y'know. Fun stuff like that. It's really not a bad way to get involved in interesting stuff and have pretty amazing adventures. WHY IT LOOKS LIKE A CULT All that said, though, I can see why it looks a little cult-y from the outside. Even for me:

First is this weird breed of elitism which you see in people's definitions of 'nerdfighter'. Things like "Not made of flesh and blood, but made of awesome instead", or "A person who champions intellectualism over worldsuck". I think this is exaggerated and kind of exclusive for something which is essentially a Vlogbrothers fan community. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. The Brony community, as much as I disagree with its content and aesthetics, has no problem defining itself as "My Little Pony fans", and still manages to raise thousands for charity. Guys, it's perfectly acceptable to be a community that formed around mutual appreciation for a piece of media. You can still do all the cool stuff you do, without inventing phrases like "champions of intellectualism". Just saying.

Second is the seemingly pressing need by some members to shove the community down other people's throats. Upvoting a comment that contains nothing but "DFTBA!!!1! NERDFIGHTERIA FTW!!!!!" on an unrelated news article is just as much of a pain in the ass as the people who upvote "FOR PONYTON!!! LOVE AND TOLERANCE!1!!". Which is unfortunate really, because "Don't Forget To Be Awesome" and "Love and Tolerance" are both extremely worthwhile messages when you aren't having them slammed constantly in your face by an unrelenting sea of fans.

THE CONCLUSION So yes. It has its downsides. Some of it is a bit odd. There is a high barrier to entry, and weird inside jokes. In the end though, it comes down to two things: 1. They are people who are fun to hang around with. 2. They do interesting things.

And so with reasonable certainty, I can confirm: probably not a cult. Thank you for your time.

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