12 episodes

The internet is unrecognisable when you remove talking to strangers from it. It feels suddenly less useful. You probably don't know most of the people you follow on Twitter, but you might have discussed each other's mental health. You're never going to meet everyone you upvote on Reddit, but you've shared in their best moments and eavesdropped on their worst.

Thanks to this ability to connect with people, we don’t have to physically isolate ourselves to be part of a community anymore. The internet means we can expose ourselves to ideas that would have usually never entered our lives.

This podcast is about groups of people on the internet and why they connect with each other. It’s about forums, niche conversations, moderators, and new languages. It’s also about how these groups could sometimes, even just a little bit, be compared to cults. 

All episodes written and edited by: Helen McCarthy (@helenlmccarthy)
Music by: Antti Luode (http://anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk)

That's a Cult? Helen McCarthy

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 50 Ratings

The internet is unrecognisable when you remove talking to strangers from it. It feels suddenly less useful. You probably don't know most of the people you follow on Twitter, but you might have discussed each other's mental health. You're never going to meet everyone you upvote on Reddit, but you've shared in their best moments and eavesdropped on their worst.

Thanks to this ability to connect with people, we don’t have to physically isolate ourselves to be part of a community anymore. The internet means we can expose ourselves to ideas that would have usually never entered our lives.

This podcast is about groups of people on the internet and why they connect with each other. It’s about forums, niche conversations, moderators, and new languages. It’s also about how these groups could sometimes, even just a little bit, be compared to cults. 

All episodes written and edited by: Helen McCarthy (@helenlmccarthy)
Music by: Antti Luode (http://anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk)

    Ep 12 - Wedding Shaming

    Ep 12 - Wedding Shaming

    Wedding shaming is our new favourite internet-based hobby.

    On two huge Facebook groups, tens of thousands of people regularly insult, laugh at, and argue about dodgy cakes, ill-fitting dresses, and themed engagement shoots. Their content frequently goes viral, whether they want it to or not.

    Why are people really in these groups, and how harmful can stranger shaming be? Helen finds out.

    Thanks to my contributors:
    Jenn & Steven Van Elk - https://jennifervanelk.com/
    Dr Cagle - https://twitter.com/lecagle
    Emily Laidlaw - https://twitter.com/EmilyLaidlaw
    Shell Robshaw-Bryan - http://www.thebohemianbride.co.uk/

    You can listen to Jenn & Steven's podcast here http://www.weddedpod.com/. Or just search 'Wedded'.

    Written and edited by - Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by - Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions, comments, and thoughts to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Ep 11 - Workism

    Ep 11 - Workism

    The big work question used to be "Do you live to work, or work to live?" Now, it's "Can you ever work hard enough?"

    In February 2019, Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson wrote a viral article about workism - that "work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver."

    How widespread and cult-like has this become? Helen speaks to a workplace wellness expert, those trying to define success, and a 'workism reformist', to find out.

    You can read the original Atlantic article by Derek Thompson here bit.ly/2SUfNEZ

    Thanks to my contributors:
    Professor Sir Cary Cooper - twitter.com/ProfCaryCooper
    Max Maher - bit.ly/2GyIC1D
    Josh Mackey - www.dailydriven.com
    Anna Lundberg - www.annaselundberg.com
    Sam Spurlin - www.samspurlin.com
    Hannah Kass

    Listen to Anna's podcast, Reimagining Success - apple.co/2Yo0MgA
    Read Anne Helen Peterson's Buzzfeed article, How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation - bit.ly/2F8ONJA

    Written and edited by - Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by - Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    Episode sources - https://thatsacult.tumblr.com/post/627526238301487104/the-big-work-question-used-to-be-do-you-live-to

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions, comments, and thoughts to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 1 hr
    Ep 10 - Law of Attraction

    Ep 10 - Law of Attraction

    Speak it into existence. Stay positive. Create the life you want.

    The Law of Attraction might sound straightforward, but it's anything but. We've all heard of The Secret, but the Law of Attraction remains a bit of a cosmic mystery to most.

    Helen hears the diverse perspectives of people who use it, and finds out if we need to understand it to believe in it at all.

    Thanks to all the anonymous contributors.

    Ginny Gane - ginnygane.com

    Written and edited by: Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by: Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    All sources used (so you can do your own reading and research): https://thatsacult.tumblr.com/post/627412866971090944/speak-it-into-existence-stay-positive-create-the

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions, comments, and thoughts to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 55 min
    Ep 9 - Influencers

    Ep 9 - Influencers

    The social media influencer industry has exploded so much, we can't scroll through our timelines without bumping into them. We've gone from seeing them as a relatively harmless novelty, to criticising and regulating them, in just a few years.

    Are they misunderstood artists and curators, or too busy flogging their diet products to care about anything other than the numbers?

    #spon #ad

    Thanks to my contributors:
    Eadaoin Fitzmaurice - instagram.com/bandeadd
    Cameron Phillips - instagram.com/cameronphillips
    Michelle Elman - instagram.com/scarrednotscared
    Emily van der Nagel - twitter.com/emvdn

    Written and edited by: Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by: Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    All sources used (so you can do your own reading and research): https://thatsacult.tumblr.com/post/626976155869888512/the-social-media-influencer-industry-has-exploded

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 47 min
    Ep 8 - Motivational speaking

    Ep 8 - Motivational speaking

    If there's something missing in your life, or you're struggling to achieve your goals, you could always spend a lot of money on a very loud motivational seminar. That should get you going.

    The motivation industry is huge, but like the diet industry, it sells a big dream.

    What do the motivational junkies who've tried it all actually think? And can we really trust the industry's leading speakers to give us what we need?

    Thanks to my contributors:
    Kevin Durham - kevindurham.co.uk
    Samuel Leeds
    Larissa Faw - twitter.com/larissafaw
    Jason Connell - jasonconnell.co

    Written and edited by: Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by: Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    All sources used (so you can do your own reading and research): https://thatsacult.tumblr.com/post/626974284365152256/if-theres-something-missing-in-your-life-or

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 49 min
    Ep 7 - Pick-up artists

    Ep 7 - Pick-up artists

    What do women want? According to pick-up, they want someone dominant and assertive who’ll come up to them in the street and ask for their number outright.

    Pick-up clearly has a flawed methodology. That hasn’t stopped some ‘gurus’ making a fortune out of it, and attracting hundreds of thousands of followers.

    Does evolutionary science really support their brash advice? And do the coaches actually think they’re doing men some good?

    Thanks to my contributors:
    Kezia Noble (https://www.kezia-noble.com/)
    James Tusk (https://project-tusk.com/)
    Jon Sefcek
    Russ

    Also thanks to Peter Jonason and Joanna Wincenciak.

    Written and edited by: Helen McCarthy twitter.com/helenlmccarthy

    Music by: Antti Luode www.anttismusic.blogspot.co.uk

    All sources used (so you can do your own reading and research): https://thatsacult.tumblr.com/post/626786311168196608/what-do-women-want-according-to-pick-up-they

    Want to hear a deep dive into an internet community/potential cult? Email your suggestions to thatsacult@gmail.com

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
50 Ratings

50 Ratings

christina doren ,

Love this podcast

So well researched and great host. A really enjoyable, informative listen.

megabyterose ,

Very well put-together

I’m very impressed with the quality of this podcast. The audio quality, editing, variety, humor, pacing, level of research, and interview questions are all top-tier. The quality is also good in early episodes. Not a lot of podcasts can boast that! Great work

DudiestDude ,

Quality content

Funny, thorough, deep. This is long-form journalism in a podcast on this important and fascinating area of modern life - how we’re connecting virtually, and how some of those social media engagements slip or careen headlong into cultishness.

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