A niche community often arises organically. At it's best, a web of bonds in real life or on the internet establishes a safe space for people that share a common interest or life-defining characteristic.
But such a community, based so directly on a the presence of an essential detail held by all members, inherently includes a boundary. The space is only a space if it has an edge that defines it.
Often, that's no problem. The members of a community celebrate that contained spirit while allowing the boundary to be permeable to new members and well-meaning people who respect the space.
Some communities, however, are not so permeable. Their boundary line is stark, guarded aggressively, and makes non-members keenly aware of their place outside the group.
And most surprisingly, these gatekept, even toxic communities often exist to provide support for a very wholesome and vulnerable cause.
Filmologic asked, "What's the most surprisingly toxic community?"
A Good Thing Gone Too Far
"As a Personal Trainer and someone who basically lives in the gym, it would have to be the Fitness Community."
"While it is incredibly important to include fitness as part of your life, I see far too many people in my gym take it to illogical extremes."
"From drug use, to using the gym as a means to avoid their families, spending up 5 hours or more in here, there's lots of unhealthy behavior that goes on in here."
Cliques of Oral History
"I was most surprised by the toxicity of an online community devoted to the history and memories of my home town. I thought it was going to be about people's reminiscences, interesting tidbits of information and old photos, but it turned out to be a lot of sniping and politics."
"There was a core group, kind of like the cool kids and they would have get togethers and inside jokes and they treated everyone else like they thought they were losers."
"It was very high school - actually worse."
Arbitrary Designations of Legitimacy
"It breaks my heart to say this: the disability community. The amount of gate-keeping is ridiculous and insane."
"Example: I take pills for a condition that is psychiatric in nature, but has physical side affects if I'm not medicated (drowsiness, hand trembles, shaky leg, compulsive picking). I've repeatedly been told that it's not a 'real disability' because I have it under control, or worse yet, it's 'in my head.'"
"Not cool, man."
"Bicycling. My ex has a bmx repair business, mostly for kids, and the amount of hate he receives from road cyclists is unfathomable. Not just online, but on trails and in bike lanes too."
"How little scope do you have when you're willing to run someone into traffic because you don't like their style of bike? Then try to high-five your friend about it?"
When Hate Gets Hold of It
"The RuPaul's Drag Race fandom."
"What started as a bi***y distraction for gay men has turned into a phenomenon for sanctimonious straight teenagers who are either hysterical sycophants or obnoxious racists."
Sexism in the Gaming Community
"Gamers! Some man feel threatened by woman and they begin doing anything to kick hem out of the community."
"I've seen some exposing the girls personal life like photos, affairs, jobs in order to make them feel embarrassed enough to leave the games."
"Poshmark. I'm a full-time seller on poshmark and mercari, and my God do some other sellers have a god complex."
"Poshmark allows buyers to offer on items and a lot of sellers take every offer (low ball or a reasonable offer) as a personal insult and will either blast the potential buyer or just straight up block them."
"Some sellers have a 'no response' self policy, where if someone asks a question they refuse to answer because they see it as a waste of their precious time..."
"...now I understand some buyers ask too many questions with no intention of buying but that's just how customer service is baby, sometimes you gotta answer stupid questions!"
"Dungeons and Dragons."
"You would think that nerds bonding together over something as wonderfully silly as pretending to be Dwarves and Elves wouldn't breed toxicity, but many of them are not only snobby but extremely elitist about how they prefer to run the games."
"The kink communities in some cities."
"They say they're all about acceptance and everything rosy but can be a toxic cesspool of cliques and power-hungry narcissists."
"Surfers. There are cases where someone gets beat the sh** out of/their car wrecked simply for surfing a spot whilst not being a 'local.'" -- FormerGoat1
"Was looking for this one. Everyone thinks it's all laid back and chill but in the water surfers are aggressive, selfish, and hostile to beginners."
"At certain crowded spots (i.e. spots in Santa Cruz) I'll count my session as a win if I go the entire time without some old guy or 'local' getting mad at me for some dumb sh**." -- Franklin-D-Bluth
Most kid game that have chat features. Club penguin, Roblox, wizards 101, etc."
"Usually if younger children are involved heavily in a games community I usually see a ton of racism and just plain hatred."
Head on a Swivel Out There
"kpop. idk if it's a no-brainer to y'all now but when I joined I had no idea. the amount of cancel culture, bullying, gas-lighting, sh** talking... it made me so uncomfortable."
"I did not want to be associated with people who send death threats to others who don't like kpop or harass their idols. it makes me so angry and sad that the community is what it is..."
"....because I still enjoy some bands and songs. and I also feel bad that the people with actual healthy love for the genre and bands are ashamed to like what they like because of the shitty ass people."
Allegations of Overstepping
"PETA. They claim to be the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals but they tried to get Pokemon banned which is a fictional video game about collecting monsters (has nothing to do with animals). They also want to turn the whole world vegan."
"If they actually stuck to their core values of protecting animals they might actually be taken more seriously."
"Ever try to go on a quick run or a nice hike with an outdoorsy friend or relative? Or possibly even date?"
"Don't have the right shoes or expensive gear. Don't have the right drinks because water isn't enough anymore. Don't use the right running technique (whatever that means, I learned to run when I was 3 and never looked back)."
"And don't even TRY to find a nice serene place in nature that isn't gatekept by someone who thinks they own the land. It's outrageous."
Becoming the Enemy
"Atheists (and I am one.)"
"If a major problem with organized religion is that it's very tribal (which it is), organized atheism has turned itself into just another tribe. One more version of 'us' against a different kind of 'them'. That's not an improvement."
The Prevention of Vulnerability
"Men to other men. Honestly it's sad how many men try and make others feel like sh**." -- Lethal_bizzle94
"Not surprising" -- Thoughtitwouldlast
"I think there's a fine line between ball busting and actual hatred. Also guys don't hold grudges much at all" -- Wes_Bugg
Only Advice for the Tight Coils
"Curly hair community. Gate-keeping is real. If you have loose, wavy curls or a mixed baby and you're trying to get some curly girl help online.... beware."
"They're coming for you."
"Community theater toxicity caught me off guard when I got into it in my town. Lots of ego, casting drama, and super right wing people with shi**y views."
"That last one is the one that got me the most. Maybe it's just a Florida thing but you'd figure that people into doing musicals wouldn't be the 'all lives matter,' 'I disagree with gay marriage' types regardless."
"Not everyone thankfully, my closest friends also came from doing it"
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