People Break Down The Things That Are Not A Cult But Feel Like One
Image by Sammy-Williams from Pixabay

What gives cults a bad name?

For starters, a cult is usually described as a social group with an unusual or excessive devotion towards a certain religious or philosophical belief.

Remember "Heaven's Gate?" A group of 39 people participated in a ritualistic suicide in 1997 because they believed that by ending their life, they would board an extraterrestrial spacecraft to take them to "Heaven's Gate." Yeah, that constituted a cult.

So it stands to reason cults, in general, remain highly controversial.

Sometimes, however, the bizarre rituals and demands of an organization can feel like a cult, even though they are not.

Curious to explore this concept further, Redditor FlintTheDad asked

What's something that's not a cult, but feels like a cult?

Corporate Cult

Certain corporate cultures can be oddly suspicious.

What Is SalesForce?

"It's a customer relationship management platform, in the parlance. It's a database for logging, accessing, and connecting work information, e.g. a sales lead, the quote, the correspondence, the sales docs, the budget, the implementation team, etc., etc. Companies attempt to use it as a be-all end-all management tool and stretch it beyond its capabilities."


Cutting the BS

"Salesforce. No, I don't want to build a community, go hiking or join a hundred online classes to learn the basics. Make a couple of well-explained, to-the-point training videos ffs."



"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."


Too Much Enthusiasm

"I agree, another one is Sunglass Hut. I was a sales manager for a year and a part time associate for a couple years prior while I was in school. At the first region meeting they 1. 'Strongly encouraged' aka forced you to donate to their charity... that they run... and make profit off of. 2. Made everyone wait in the lobby before letting us into the conference room, and the only way in was where the higher ups lined the doors cheering and screaming while music blasted and you had to high-five them all. (Of course this is pre-[the virus]). In general, they don't treat you like a human being, it's either act like a camp counsellor (enthusiasm levels) for minimum wage or you'd never climb the ladder. Spoiler alert, there is no ladder to climb. The whole company mentality is very cult-y."


Tech World

These Redditors thought tech culture in general bordered on the cult-y.

Be Popular

"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.'"


Graduate Magnets

"I've been at companies like this, and they suck. But also it's super easy to leave one company for another in tech, the skills are very transferrable and in demand. Those 'tech' companies, are really just some other business trying to attract tech talent by providing those amenities and taking advantage of recent grads."

"Most people I know out of school get a job like that, and leave for greener pastures shortly after. If they really cared about their employees they'd just fix what's wrong and listen to their employees."


Creepy Benefits

"I'm 27 and have worked some random jobs, a lot of places gave tried setting me up with women at work. And a lot of couples who've been there for a long time met there."

"It's creepy AF when your boss is forcing women to flirt with you, just so you stay at the job."


Financial Cult

Does it pay to be involved in these? These Redditors didn't think so.

Multi-Level Marketing Schemes

"Herbalife. In fact, most (if not all) MLM schemes."


"Some pyramid schemes are actually classified as financial cults by Cultwatch, so not far off!"


Pyramid Selling

"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 innitiates 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 racist 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."


"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Reference



"Woah there brother. Your amino acid levels are looking dangerous lol."


"Ah yes! The power of financial freedom. Boom Boom!"


Homeowner's Associations

"Used to work in a gated community pool. Some were cool, but most were the most awful bunch of wealthy jerks. Never wanted to follow the rules or cooperate and their kids always acted like little punks. It also felt kind of incestuous as well because those people were occasionally sleeping with each other. Not in the pool. I would just hear the pool gossip."


Play At Your Own Risk

"The ticky-tac cul de sac built behind me has been trying to strong arm me into paying HOA dues ever since I put no trespassing signs facing them in my woods. The whole reason I did was due to their stupid kids playing in my woods, getting hurt, and then being blamed by them for having an unsafe yard. Dude, it's an acre of unimproved woods with sticks, stone walls, and 200+ years of random shit thrown in it. It's not a goddamn public park, so your lawsuit means nothing. I was here before your house was built - why would I want to join your HOA when one of the conditions is that you all have free access to my land? You can feel free to stop trying to complain about me to the city, because they know I don't care. How do you like the HAM antenna I just put up on the edge of my land? Oh, is that an eyesore, too? Good."

"Also, I have no idea where those noisy guinea hens came from. I think they wandered in from the other guys land that you've been trying to co opt so he gets rid of his pigs and turkeys. Yeah, that's it."


"Retired Fun Police"

"I moved from an over zealous HOA in Virginia four years ago because they were a nasty group of retired fun police. We recieved a notice that our yard had too high a % of crabgrass! They attempted to fine us $100 per month until it was rectified. We received said notice in November. My partner elegantly told them to stuff it. This was after five years of various infractions such as storing a garden hose under our lattice covered back porch, paint chipping off a railing, anti bird cages attached to outside vents, yard lantern either out or wrong color all with pictures showing how entitled they were to trespass when ever they needed more $ for their coffers. They notified my next door neighbor her mailbox post needed painting, it looked like everyone else's prior.. They're passive/aggressive way of pointing out a wayward residents was NOT putting an American flag on their mailboxes on patriotic holidays. LOL I recall seeing many in noncompliance!"


I once belonged to a performing group in which our director participated in an organization that claimed to improve people's lives as long as members participated in frequent group sessions and paid a high monthly tuition.

I was a kid, and while this well-being organization may have had positive intentions, the changing behavior of our director creeped us out. He was suddenly cold and not as enthusiastic as he once was with us in rehearsals, and we all blamed his cult for changing him.

When we raised a stink about it one time, the director decided to quit the organization.

I'm not sure if what he participated in was actually a cult, but my friends and I remain skeptical.