Join Me

This article give a just just amazing example of group forming.

… excitement died down, Wallace, now living by himself, was overcome with loneliness and ennui. On a whim, he took out a classified ad asking people to “join” him and send him their passport photos. That was it. “I was just interested to see whether people would,” he later recalled. “And then I forgot about it.”

Much to his delight, someone joined. In fact, a whole posse of someones. Wallace quickly exceeded his goal of one hundred joinees, and set his sights on one thousand. Collecting them became like a fever. Wallace bounced around Europe, appearing on late-night talk shows and in newspapers to spread the gospel of Join Me. He began meeting with his devotees and taking them out for beers. He set up a Web site and even recorded a theme song, all the while trying desperately to keep his burgeoning secret life hidden from Hanne. But then Wallace’s adventure took a new turn: The joinees began demanding to know what, exactly, they had joined.

In fact, they rapidly became irritable with their Leader, who was always mysteriously vague about what it was they were supposed to be doing. They sent plaintive e-mails, and posted theories on the Join Me Web site Wallace had set up, speculating that he was doing some kind of weird statistical research, or perhaps was a “demented megalomaniac” on a “massive ego trip.” One of the more enterprising joinees created his own Web site and agitated the others into pressuring Wallace to reveal what Join Me was all about.

Mutiny was afoot. Wallace knew that if he didn’t come up with a point, his career as Leader was over. “I would be lying to you if I told you there wasn’t a part of me that wanted to use my joinees to spread mischief across the land,” he later wrote. “But alas, it wasn’t to be. Because I, Danny Wallace, was to be in the service of All Things Good.”

So the Leader decreed that the point of Join Me was this: to be nice.

That’s got to be the best example of a community founding myth I’ve seen.
It suggests that the three markers of a community (common: cause, ritual, responsiblity) can arise after the group forms. 90% of the founding myths are are about a bunch a guys who discover a problem and then band together in common cause to address that problem. In this myth the group forms and then demands common cause. Like a bunch of kids sitting around going “I don’t know, what you want a do?”

0 thoughts on “Join Me

  1. MetalAngel

    Well! I detect a sign of the ‘cult’ in Join-Me.
    I have visited their website and been viewing their forum.
    It seems there is the banding together of members to defend their philosophy and also the use of coercion to recruit and retain members.
    The very name and phrase “Join-Me” speaks volumes; slightly mysterious and inviting, promising the revelation of more things when a person has joined – along with the appearance of offering association with a group interested in making the world a better place. Who could resist or fail to be fascinated?

    I have now read some of their forum topics and was struck particularly by the sense of a “family” here, with an ever-growing acceptance of a new thought and outlook replacing previous ideas and notions. I found out you have to sign an “agreement” to conduct kind acts on a Friday. Thus there is some control or regulation evident. What is the Gold, Silver and Platinum hierarchy but controlled ‘approval’ by rewarding members with a higher status?
    I discovered odd games, obscure activities and strange phrases abound ostensibly to strengthen morale. (More likely these are devised to induce loyalty and promote obedience)
    Then there are the so-called ‘Atlantean’ members at the heart of Join-Me who claim to have lived on the fabled lost continent in a previous life whose mission is to guide and direct the members from ‘within’….

    I don`t think I`m going overboard when I state that ‘cults’ desire people who are intelligent, idealistic, educated, intellectually curious and not too old. I saw many joinees who fall directly into these categories ‘within’ Join-Me. I have found it pays to be watchful.
    Even the leader, the one with the “Big Idea”, a youngish man with a trendy, modern image and untarnished reputation appears to have carefully groomed and fashioned his appearance to appear pleasant and plausible for the publicity machine and also identify and gel with an unsuspecting and green younger generation. He probably made a fortune out of this book I just finished reading. But hey! good luck to him.

    It wouldn`t surprise me that the strange group gatherings and ‘meets’ are when the pressure tactics come into force. This seems a most likely time for the pyschological assaults, or the ‘love bombing’ to manifest itself together with any financial obligations or money soliciting…

    I accept that I may have got it all wrong, I hope I have. It`s just that it all seems to ‘pat’, too simplistically clever if you know what I mean, too good to be ringing entirely true. πŸ˜‰
    I know I wouldn`t want to give up my education, my hopes and my ambitions to follow a RAINBOW.

    MetalAngel. πŸ™‚

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