Hello everyone. Today we’re going to talk about social media engagement with Scientologists. All of this information would apply to engaging in real life too, of course, and earlier videos I’ve made about how to talk to people who are in destructive cults are still totally valid. I just thought it would be useful to talk specifically about social media, especially since we often find ourselves engaging with total strangers online, which is a very different thing than talking to family members or friends we have known for years. I’ll be talking about Scientologists but all of this really applies to members of any destructive cult or cohersive group.
I got some help from my girl friend, Melissa, (“Hello”) who will help define some of the terms I’m using and demonstrate some of the points I’m making.
Many times I have seen on Twitter, Facebook and even Instragram and Pinterest, people engage with existing Scientologists in an effort to change their mind or get them to “wake up” about the realities of Scientology as a destructive cult. It’s a valiant effort but unless you happen to be talking to someone who is in the last stages of already questioning their faith, so to speak, it would be a miracle if you were actually to succeed in changing their mind or even get them to respond positively to what you are telling them.
(“Miracle: a momentous or extraordinary event which defies any rational or logical explanation.”)
When engaging or debating a Scientologist online, there is really one and only one goal: plant seeds of information which can grow over time into doubts which will force them to question what is going on around them. One thing you have to realize is that it doesn’t take one conversation, one experience or one fact to convert someone to a cult mindset, and there is no “gotcha” fact or story or testimonial that is going to de-convert someone. It takes time and the unfortunate truth is that most people don’t “wake up” and change from one mindset to another until something bad happens to them personally. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help them along and giving someone in a cult mindset some facts and information may not pay off immediately, but it probably will in the long run. For this to work at all, the information you give has to be 100% factual, free of personal opinions or insults and easy to understand.
When engaging on social media, feel free to send links to my videos or blog or other sites which provide good, solid information about Scientology such as Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker or Mike Rinder’s Something Can Be Done About It. Even better, you can also link people to more non-partisan sites about destructive cult behavior such as the International Cultic Studies Association site. But don’t expect them to actually read or watch any of it. If they do, great, but don’t be surprised if they just brush off those sites and refuse to look at them. The best thing you can do is give any simple argument or information in your own words and leave it at that. Actually, asking questions is more effective than making statements, because it forces the person on the receiving end to try to answer those questions and this requires more active thinking than simply rebutting critical statements.
In giving the Scientologist information, try to avoid any confidential or upper level information like getting into the whole Xenu story. The odds are that the person you are engaging with has not done the OT levels and will have no idea what you are talking about because they honestly have never been exposed to that information in their Scientology experience. They are being honest with you when they tell you that Xenu and space aliens and all of that is nonsense, because as far as they are concerned it is. Their experience with Scientology is doing some lower level classes which present common sense principles as though they were new revelations from L. Ron Hubbard, sweating “their toxins” out in a sauna or doing some simple Scientology auditing which makes them feel better about themselves.
In fact, most Scientologists I’ve seen who are willing to engage at all are Scientologists who haven’t even made it to the state of Clear. They are still sold on the benefits Scientology is supposedly bringing to the world at large and are eager to share the good news with the world. More experienced Scientologists and especially those who have gone up to the OT levels avoid any internet engagement because they know the price they have to pay for being connected to suppressive people or people who are thought to be hostile to Scientology. By that I mean that Scientologists who go on the OT levels are scrutizined and their privacy invaded at a level that is hard for lower level Scientologists to believe and they have to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of being interrogated about every aspect of their online activity, so they generally come to the conclusion that it just isn’t worth it to them to do anything with Scientology online. New and lower-level Scientologists haven’t learned that lesson yet and don’t know much if anything about these interrogations and so won’t believe you when you tell them that this sort of thing goes on.
(“Remember that Scientologists are real people who are trying to get along in life just like you and me. Be kind, be understanding and compassionate. You may feel upset or mad or frustrated about the abuses of Scientology, but they don’t and taking it out on them will only strengthen their resolve because you’ll be proving what the Church says about its critics.”)
So your strategy is simple: engage, present a fact or two, and eject unless there is some very compelling reason to do otherwise, like the person is asking you for more information or positively responding to what you are saying.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
Trust me, the mere fact that the person is engaging with you at all and responding to your criticisms and attempts to show them facts outside of their carefully crafted bubble world is a good thing. Don’t become frustrated or angry that they don’t seem willing to consider what you are saying or that they refute your claims or rationalize abuses. This is predictable and expected behavior for anyone with a cult mentality. Even though they may be able to do a championship job of justifying obviously abusive behavior or believe that it would never happen to them, they still can’t unsee what you say to them. Once you have planted one or two seeds of information, your work is done. Thank the person for engaging, let them know you are available if they have any other questions or want more information and leave the conversation.
The Scientologist may try to taunt you back or keep trying to engage with you by sending you links to scientology.org or STAND League or other pro-Scientology websites so they can convince you how amazing and wonderful Scientology is. After you have signed off, ignore any further attemps on their part to convince you or challenge your claims. You’ve done your work and you are done, so stay done.
Some other points to consider:
Unless you are private messaging with the Scientologist, other people are going to see your back and forth and potentially be influenced by it. You aren’t necessarily just planting seeds with the person you are engaging in, but also with anyone connected with their social media account.
(“This is why it’s really important to remain calm and rational and not engage in any kind of ad hominem or personal insults. Ad hominem is not just a logical fallacy but is the argument of a six-year old and many observers will not take you seriously if you do it.”)
Unless there is some very compelling reason to do so, private messaging with a Scientologist for purposes of debate is usually a total waste of time, unless you are talking to someone who you already know in real life and are familiar with. Some Scientologists are online specifically to get information about Scientology critics so they can blacklist them or find out personal information about them.
(“Do not ever ever ever give out personal information to the Scientologist you are talking to. Especially don’t give them your address or phone number or even your last name if you are not already identified by your social media account. There are almost no situations where this is a good idea.”)
Ok, so those are some simple pieces of advice which I hope are helpful. There’s nothing particularly wrong with venting at someone but don’t confuse that with changing hearts and minds. If you just lash out or vent at a Scientologist online, you can be sure you will not have any positive result even if it makes you feel better. I try not to do that and believe me, I’ve got more reasons than most people to be angry. But I’d actually love to hear from you guys. What have you done that has worked or not worked online? Do you have any advice? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for watching.