Welcome to My Massive Open Online Cult!
BY MATT SEIDEL
Welcome to my MOOC—Massive Open Online Cult—a 10-week course based on the revolutionary educational models of Coursera and edX. Due to the “massive” nature of this course, I am unable to interact with prospective cult members individually. Though I am acutely aware that the most fulfilling cult leader/acolyte relationship arises from months of sustained and deeply personal psychological manipulation, this is simply not an option with the MOOC format. However, I will do my best to break down your resistance mechanisms throughout the taped lectures.
About the Course
“Cult” comes from Latin cultus, meaning “care, labor; cultivation, culture,” though you would never know that given the term’s stigma in America today. After briefly surveying the artistic and cultural history of sects and secret societies, we will shift our attention to the more practical issues of cult membership. You will learn the basics of myth-making and emotional exploitation, as well as effective strategies for getting the most out of your time spent in thrall to a brutal, charismatic master. The aim of this course is twofold: to make you a better cult member and to recruit you to my new cult (name TBD).
As recent studies have shown that students absorb information better if it is presented in short segments, I will attempt to break my rambling diatribes into 8-12 minute chunks.
I am an independent scholar and a committed father of thirty-eight beautiful children. My specialty is in neo-pagan fertility rites. Having joined my first cult at the age of twelve, I went on to found three successful movements in the contiguous United States and one in Sitka, Alaska. The Times-Picayune has repeatedly referenced my “purportedly magnetic personality” (print editions), and I was once a talking head on a Nancy Grace segment.
Week 1: Intro—Determining which cult is right for you.
Week 2: “Family Ties”—How to break them.
Week 3: Spotting promising recruits.
Week 4: Moving up through the ranks in a culture of submission.
Week 5: Advanced Brainwashing.
Week 6: The Kool-Aid Conundrum—Ethical obligations of mass suicide.
Week 7: Recidivism is Your Friend—Techniques for resisting cult deprogrammers.
Week 8: The Master screening.
Week 9: Obamacare—How the new legislation affects cult practices.
Week 10: “An Offer You Can’t Refuse”—Review, virtual party and a pitch
to join my cult.
There will be weekly reading responses, peer-reviewed initiations and various creative projects (e.g., devising a secret handshake). The message board will be moderated by only the most promising cult leaders-in-training, who will also be available for Live Chat sessions should your commitment to the cause waver. You will be expected to record your growing dissociation from normal life on a shared Google Doc file. For the final exam, you will be required to pass a multiple-choice test and film a (non-human) ritual sacrifice.
There will be no college credit given for successful completion of the course; however, all passing students will receive a certificate and a link to my really creepy, encrypted website. Although the course is free, you do have the option of emptying your bank account to a cult leader of your choice (preferably me) for extra credit.
One of the great advantages of this new technology is its ability to provide me with instant feedback. Short quizzes will allow me to gauge whether you are becoming gradually more pliable, and an online suggestion box lets you communicate whether I am losing my seductive edge or am not adequately representing your missing father figure. However, never forget in your criticisms that I am the course leader, and that you were nothing but a needy little piece of shit before I enrolled you.
There are no suggested prerequisites. We ask only that you sign on with an open mind, have low self-esteem and work well in a group setting.
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