OPINION — But it does contain a fledgling, fundamentalist, and pseudo-organized religion in the making.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
— Upton Sinclair
When I was a young, scrawny school boy, and in the unforgiving competition for recognition from the opposite sex, I would sometimes wonder if eliciting pity would get easy attention from the pretty girls in the class. In my comparatively outclassed physical stature, this seemed to be a fine way to leverage myself into a niche that I could occupy. I fantasized about somehow breaking my leg, on accident of course, and the consolation of the girls attending to me fawningly, as if I were a sick puppy; signing my cast, maybe kissing my cheek in well wishes.
This cheat code showed up more times in my life. In middle school when I joined the cross country team, I faked a limp that the coach saw right through and called out. I stopped hobbling around the school, turned to go inside, threw my guts up, and never came back to practice.
Lo and behold, there it is again, used by an adult — David Harsent, a poet I admire writes about using it tactically in a book:
“I was given, in those days, to whimpering in my sleep, a characteristic that some girls claimed to find endearing; so much so, in fact, that I had become pretty adept at faking sleep-and-whimper to make myself seem interesting and vulnerable… I wonder vaguely whether my whimpering might have raised, in some blonde, slim, young, pretty member of the audience feelings of protectiveness and lust in equal measure.”
Of course, I have since understood that this is a pretty poor pretense for garnering attention and admiration; that it is the sort of bait that attracts the wrong kind of person, and is rather manipulative… pretty ingenious for a young nerdy boy with limited options, though!
Ultimately, this effort is a capitulation to a laziness of character that would rather embrace weaknesses than work on them. It is a sort of inverse exaltation that is the opposite of effort, it finds a calculated way to short circuit the emotions and tug on the heartstrings. So, I grew out of that mindset.
Plus, I never broke any bones.
Long known to itself as “the bleeding edge of progress”, the SCP Wiki is now viewed by at least a considerable multi-platform portion of the containment fiction community as a paradoxically backwards place. It preaches inclusion and tolerance, yet continues to brand itself loudly in a mercilessly exclusionary manner, subjugates valid yet opposing political and lifestyle decisions under a black-and-white dichotomy of evil, and tends to err on the side of rejecting others if there is even the question as to the extent of an individual’s deviation from their groupthink.
It is for these observations and more that SCP has been thoughtfully compared to a cult. However, there are areas of restraint that fail to give this comparison satisfactory purchase. There is, for example, no blind following of a few central authority figures, as evidenced by the vast unpopularity of a ProcyonLotor, or the general discontent and upheaval in the chaos of a Town Hall.
Were SCP a cult, then its unchallenged patron saint Dr. Gears would have had more sway among his captive audience in his recent site interview, when he told the participants that they suffer from an idolatry of the rating module and over-fixation of the ego, and coached them to return to an innocence of writing for its own sake. The selective hearing of this cult would have to be a strange thing to factor into this argument.
Or take the example of thedeadlymoose (who I don’t know the pronouns of) who according to the site’s premier historian (though no longer its resident one), was the single most instrumental figure in moving the site towards LGBTQ+ acceptance and safety. If anyone’s words would be highlighted in red text, or at least regarded and respected as a sort of parental and spiritual figure in this modern era of SCP, it would be this individual’s. However, and as we shall see, thedeadlymoose’s insight and words are not sufficient to alter or modify the momentum of what they put into motion, and and are in important ways contrary to it.
Furthermore, as a gaggle of creators, SCP should never feature the mass conformity of thought that defines a cult; theirs is an ecosystem that predicates itself upon creation, and obsessively on the new and original — that is to say, the different (but tempered). So SCP users and authors especially should never be found faithfully running off of cliffs like the lemmings seen in less creative communities.
Lastly a cult is really the most extreme version of a religion, it is a religion on steroids. So it’s more accurate to go with the softer claim that there are the familiarities of religious thinking within the SCP Wiki. But more than that, there are sufficient overlaps with religious qualities there, particularly of the fundamentalist variety, to categorize it as a pre-religious or potentially a peri-religious community. In a semi-organized manner, the SCP Wiki has established an orthodoxy that demonstrates the actions and logic of a religion.
Convergence and Atomization: In-group vs. Out-group
So no, in the context of a creative writing site, you should not see some of these religious elements. You really need more than just the ingredients of a creative writing community in an evolution of creepypasta to get to this point.
Oxymoronically however, the push for a shared goal, a greed, and an unspoken unity in pursuit of it has modified SCP into a belief cartel, where acceptance of the terms of service are requisite to participate in the potential spoils. The creativity that should allow for a dazzling breath of philosophical and, let’s say political or stylistic, diversity has instead been structurally incentivized into an exhaustive ability to create, not new ways of thinking, but an infinity of moral ground by which to justify the continuation of an overcast monotony.
At some point, when the environment has been reconstructed to be favorable only to this monotony, it becomes a runaway, positive-feedback, selection loop; those who conform to the expectation are rewarded more, and those who do not are penalized more.
Take the poignant words of LordStoneFish, of SCP-3999 fame:
“There’s been a distinct move towards epic queer fantasy as opposed to tightly contained horror, which I don’t mind from a reading standpoint, but from an optics standpoint isn’t great. I think 8,000 word epic tales about the Wanderer’s Library or a trans ghost in a computer are not going to be widely read outside the wiki and only foster a sense of increasingly [sic] insularity… In the time since I’ve been writing I’ve seen a lot of that shift towards more the conventions of regular fiction, and even of fanfiction, which unfortunately can invite mediocrity.
[Q: Has mediocrity been invited?]
When people are more interested in writing about the meaningless miniutae of internet culture than anything else, because it “reflects their own experience,” I gotta say yes. I think the climate of the wiki certainly allows people to feel small. It’s addictive, a built-in audience of supportive friends. There’s no need to publish elsewhere, or even to try, so with few exceptions a lot of writers on the wiki who are very talented stay there. There’s that climate of envy, the creeping moralism that dictates that the more pathetic you can be, the higher ground you have. This in my estimation is why they have so much trouble running the site, dealing with the childish bitterness of upvote envy, the trolls, the obnoxious political radicals, the traumatized people who don’t how to correctly hand out justice.
It’s all so insular.”
What could possibly be strong enough to tame the raw creative energies of a structurally decentralized group, one that harps on inclusion, and breed it artificially until the modern day exemplar of the community is an unnatural mix of progressive stances and conservative attitudes? Why do we see in the culture of SCP the piety of the church-going devotee, the categorical reviling of the sufficiently different, the lack of nuance and critical thinking for anything exogenous or threatening to a slim range of fundamental tenants, their tidy and glad organization of themselves as creative people into carbon copies of one another?
The answer is something that can turn someone into their nemesis; something that would make someone sell their soul for 1000 upvotes; that tragic commonality that binds all individuals who feel the need to write; the need to be received, but more, to be loved for it.
The structure of SCP uniquely marries the intimacy of writing and its romantic portraying of the self with the instantaneous positive reinforcement, saturated in dopamine, of social media platforms. The irony here is that the social media aspects of the site were initially just added bonuses in the process of migration to a more stable platform. Now the roles have swapped, and the writing is done for the sake and as a means to the social media aspects, with the double helping of irony of the site becoming less stable because of this, as it is uprooting itself in contrast to its initial vision and intent. (This is what Dr. Gears was pointing out in futility.)
Look no further for the best demonstration of this last point than Staff itself who have been thoroughly unpegged not only from the community that it is supposed to be shepherding, but its initial mission statement as well. As opposed to creating an environment that helps facilitate creativity, essentially Staff doing just so much as to get themselves and others out of the way of this production, they have instead strangulated that creativity and thoroughly and increasingly placed themselves in the pathway of it there.
What happens then is an increased monotony, an increased convergence and conformity of the organisms within an unchanging, naturally-selective environment. This is because diversity is a function of the environmental unpredictability. Biologically, when you have a stagnant environment, there is less and less need for innovation, less diversity, less pressure on a genetic level. To put it very broadly, things get accustomed to the status quo in a highly regulated environment, and get better at simply remaining and surviving in that.
This convergency in SCP’s social context of mythology, cosmology, sociobiological rules, adulation and exaltation is none other than the familiar silhouette of the religious figure, seen now walking through and making itself at home in perhaps the last place many would think to find it. Through an empowering mythology of their immaculate upbringing — straight out of hell (4chan) no less — and the deification of popularity haloed by the rating module, SCP has rehearsed and demonstrated the natural creation of the religious mold as a directly proportional function of the maturity of the worst portions of our animal characters; they have become more religious as they have become more insecure and in need of it, in the same way the rich man becomes more cautious and paranoid of his money the more of it he has. (We will get into the details on a subsequent post of how such an enormous uneasiness of collective insecurity can turn inwards on itself to shun the world in which it feels insecure, and generate a pseudo-religious worship of the then self-gravitating ego in that world’s stead.)
And yet the breed of religion seen here is a parody; a set of dogmatic rules but without a purported divine backing, a worship that points towards no external object, a pantheon of wholly apart and untouchable gods but alongside them the promise of apotheosis. Left to its own devices, the hollow shell of a religion here lacks those cosmological elements that promise to take one outside of one’s self, and instead further encourages nothing but a continued descent into one’s own madness for themselves, and one’s increasing campaign to become synonymous not with writing containment fiction, but with the riches of e-fame and vain praise that, at SCP at least, are by now the intended products of it.
Case Study: LordStoneFish
Recently, a journalistic member of the Society for Containment Fiction interviewed well-known and well-liked SCP author LordStoneFish (LSF), previously introduced.
LSF was a particularly interesting figure to interview for this society and project, as he has always been somewhat of a controversial and fringe participant to the culture’s gravitational center. He is simultaneously someone who has benefited from and been the recipient of the rampant celebrity culture at SCP, and also critical of it.
His positioning as an outlier is evident in the answers he gives, much of which could not be regarded as an ovation for the culture at SCP, but also historically through his well-known works of the site. For example SCP-3999 was intentionally avant-garde and upsetting to the rules at that point. His self-defined magnum opus, SCP-4012, is less-well received than he would like (despite now approaching +200), and represents a scission of his tastes with the userbase, noting that:
“I also have very specific guesses as to why people there don’t care very much about the horror presented in 4012. The kinds of people who upvote SCP stories will probably relate more to teenage anxiety, addiction, depression, and parasocial bullshit than the fears presented in 4012… The fact that it got basically a golf clap and confusion with no follow up (no amazing art, no TV tropes entry, no reddit declassifier, nothing) is still very frustrating. It ended up reinforcing a lot of notions I have about the wiki userbase’s taste.”
The iconoclasm in this approach permeates his personality and presence in the community. He is a consistent author of joke articles, something that we will approach as increasingly fringe itself. (A ListPages study on recent joke articles will show his name more frequently as a successful author of them than any other.)
Occupying this strange superposition, his vantage point and conclusions are particularly valuable. He is not completely philosophically seeped into the culture’s koolaid, while also almost forcefully being counted among their authorial heroes (this of course not unpleasant for him to enjoy the luxuries of). Because of this, we get a very clear demarcation of the intersections between independent intellectual thinking and the effects of proximity to the heart of the culture. We can more clearly see the lines of these demarcated through the lens of LSF.
While the interview itself is very insightful, there are a number of things that LSF demonstrates through this interview that offer more commentary on the culture than just his words. In a strange twist of logic, he revives in motion many of the issues that he had just struck down in his answers; through his actions, and less intentionally.
For instance, when it comes right down to it, LSF demonstrates his and by extension the SCP community’s prioritization of pure reputation, and the threats potentially aimed at that, above a mindful and contrasting discussion of the philosophy of containment fiction. It’s in this way that this peculiar case study of LSF is, in view of his intellectual independence, all the more demonstrable of this religious mindset; especially with respect to the religious inability to parse carefully through competing or what are perceived to be hostile ideas, instead taking the occasion to deny the possibility of discussion, and heaven forbid, deconversion.
The interview, already quoted and sourced, was conducted seamlessly without hiccup, until the history of the interviewer, pixelatedHarmony (pH), was revealed to LSF. At that moment, all the cordiality of the interaction, the suspension of personal differences for the sake and discussion of larger, more encompassing themes and questions — those of the nature of containment fiction itself, and a unique philosophy of writing — was abruptly ended. LSF virtually walked out of the interview, although it was more or less complete by then.
What information could have caused LSF to unequivocally cut social proximity to pH via the already relatively detached medium of an interview?
Luckily, and oddly enough, LSF lays this out in full for us.
What’s evident is that LSF became privy to pH’s involvement with KiwiFarms (“the funny Farm”), as told to him by SCP friends. According to this perspective, participating on that forum automatically casts someone as a dox-hungry and nefarious agent. LSF takes the knowledge that pH was involved on a forum that has a reputation for doxing to offer his own personal details. In a piety that he doubtless can take back to those in-group informants and brag about, he casts his worldly possessions freely at the feet of the beast as would the righteous man to deny Satan the scent of his hunt, the hooks of his temptations; a gesture that simultaneously confirms to the man of faith his own moral standing and the beast’s savage nature. It’s as if LSF is attempting to appease this demon by giving it what it, in its snarling aggression, might want and be satiated by.
Were LSF well-informed about the motive and purpose of the interview, he would understand that there is no nefarious and ulterior plot to dox him to an imaginary axis of pure evil. This was to be another installment in a series of interviews, most of which predate the interviewer’s involvement with that necessarily evil forum, with notable figures in the containment fiction community… none of them doxed, but their words shared for the benefit of a historical account, unique perspectives, and documentation of the genre.
Someone is a wee bit sensitive and fearful here.
At the moment it was revealed that pH had a history of interacting with a Internet forum that had a particular reputation at SCP (the nuance that would confound that reputation as it relates to the sexual identity of the interviewer — trans — notwithstanding), it was as if LSF was speaking to a leper, and that the ongoing participation in the salvation of public approval (not to mention site participation as well) was directly dependent upon LSF’s rebuke of pH as a demon who is only worthy of a terrible fate and, as we see in the screencaps, even death.
The familiar contradiction and inability to apply a critical style of thinking to one’s own beliefs, too commonly diagnostic of fundamentally religious thinking, is painfully apparent here in that LSF doesn’t care that his own community does this exact sort of doxing daily, to the demographic the protection of which LSF is demonstrating for, and as a matter of admin-approved policy. The possibility of the idea that pH didn’t actually dox anyone escapes LSF as a matter of an unfortunate fundamentalist and stereotypical categorization.
This is the behavior of a deeply religious figure.
What paints this picture in more complex shading is the fact that there are reportedly numerous renegade individuals still within and active in the SCP community who sympathize and still interact favorably with pH, but who necessarily have to conceal this fact for fear of scrutiny, castigation, and permanent exile from their SCP peers.
Does this not bring to mind the manner of treatment prescribed for the leprous in the middle ages? Is pH here not treated as someone, or something, that deserves to be cast out of society, irredeemable, reducible to a disease that once observed precludes any and all human interaction? Does the inconsiderate whip of the elitist not ring loudly in this treatment, too-familiar to all lessers of ancient and atavistic societies?
The details of LSF’s interview prior to this moment are a fascinating take on the culture of SCP (and I recommend a full read of it, here). This makes the sudden turn of events in the interview all the more striking, because it is apparent that LSF holds some of the exact criticisms that pH was active on the KF thread to voice (there is no other public forum with which to have these discussions, not without being warned or banned by SCP participants for engaging in verboten, and even “bigoted” conversation).
The irony here is that what LSF attributes as tantamount to demonic participation is the result of the tyrannically censorious character of SCP Staff, who do not typically tolerate self-criticism in its own spaces (with the notable and anomalous exception of the Town Halls, that corner that Staff was backed into, which like an overflow valve, produced plenty of pent-up angst). It is not a coincidence that these beliefs and views of LSF are just coming to a lot of interested readers in the completely separated medium of Discord private messages. (Not to say that LSF didn’t intend for people to read his answers, and even his peers, but you would not see this sort of analysis anywhere in the public square of the SCP Wiki.) Part of this is the unfortunate fact that you wouldn’t have anyone asking these questions to begin with, and thereby potentially eliciting these answers, if only native to the site’s spaces.
There is very clearly an identification and diagnosis of the sort of things that would lead someone to be an outspoken vocal critic of the community (of course, not necessarily so, and certainly not for someone tethered to the community by a passive and automatic income of efame).
And yet, what ultimately rends any fabric of mutual connectivity in these criticisms and observations is a penalty-inspired and in-group tribalism of the camps of ideological divide; the mere surface of affiliations. It’s almost as if these things were perfectly fine to discuss under the assumption that the individual participating in the discussion was flying the same flag, with the same political views. This defeats the purpose of cross-ideological communication (and inclusion). It harshly reinforces the idea that there are impassable castes and tiers of social placement, and that interaction with those individuals threatens the privileges of being involved in a particular caste and tier therein.
In a fleet of ironies, the treatment of PH by LSF’s here further reinforces the idea of the caste-based and insulated nature of the SCP culture, something LSF was only lines before in the interview lamenting. The ironies crest through the surface of this interview as if fish jumping out of the ocean and directly into the boat: LSF ironically demonstrates how benign the threat of being doxed actually is by this group of people who intentionally separated themselves from KiwiFarms for just such incorrect, stereotypical associations like that (nothing happening after him putting his hand in the open mouth of the crocodile); he reinforces the supremacy of being vulnerable by immediately volunteering all his vulnerable data in order to morally “win”; the person who is representing the admittedly problematic culture that equates marginalization with virtue is also the one who parrots the overwhelming majority opinion — versus a truly marginalized voice — and still believes that he is siding with the marginalized in the picture; the demonstration with his take on the relative lack of community enthusiasm for SCP-4012 that no amount of upvotes or notoriety is satiating enough, despite his consciousness of “the childish bitterness of upvote envy” (still stinging when internal to one’s own works); the almost pornographic expectation of praise on the part of the authors due to their brands — the fanart, the SCPD & TVtropes entries, etc.
Given that SCP does not have a military and is not interested in territorial conquest, and that its overarching and moderating structure is not a government (something we could debate), this bias is not due to a nationalism, but the identical twin of religion.
SCP’s Receding Humor
The rise of a sort of religiosity in SCP is most recently perceptible in the decay of humor; as if that emotion, so connected with the objectification of something (or worse, someone), has begun to disqualify itself from the dictums of an authoritarian simulation of inclusion, showing an all-encompassing worldview antithetical to such possible objectification. This forced recession, rightfully so, is pathologically absurd and mentally detrimental for the human condition and composite psychology, unless it is — as it is here — situated in the context of a religion.
There is a long-understood association with high religion and the absence of humor. This is because humor is innately transgressive and high religion is innately reverential. Upon gravitated and hallowed material, there are too lofty of thoughts and matters of utter seriousness at hand for the disrespect and frivolity of jokes or snickering. Mockery is blasphemy here. Respect is demanded. The pew is no place for children.
Odd then to see that SCP has decreed the death march of a general and very human sense of humor out of its pataverse — the plane the authors themselves populate. This is done so that there can be no possibility of mockery, satire, or ridicule — well-intended or not — that is directed at the site members themselves. The pomp and clout held dear to the groupthink of SCP is placed so flimsily upon an insecurity so deep, that they will disincentivize any form of humor that could be directed at them, if it means their demand to be taken seriously will be met.
A prudish and near-religious fundamentalism holds SCP’s politics upon the same pedestal that the prophet Mohammad can be found; the two being untouchable and beyond the reach of anything but agreement, participation, and reverent commentary. (Doesn’t this religious attitude absolutely beg to be satirized and mocked?) There seems to be little room for even an endearing, self-aware sense of humor (staffer CuteGirl AKA flagsam, here lacking self-awareness, reenact and legitimize the offending joke verbatim as if it were mechanics on play).
The loss of a healthy sense of humor at SCP results from a hyper-sensitivity, itself resulting from a hyper-insecurity that is genetically embedded within their worldview and amplified by their twisted priorities… something that these individuals cannot have the discipline to keep from infiltrating the topical independence of writing containment fiction. Instead, it’s as LSF says, “There’s been a distinct move towards epic queer fantasy…which I don’t mind from a reading standpoint, but…”
The incompressible spirit of humor in humanity though cannot be effectively banned, and so that orphaned supply of humor then finds its way into other coffers of the site; immigrating to new areas that the humor is accepted into as a refugee. The humor mainly takes refuge in the ontological layer below the pataphysical one, that is to say the mainlist article layer, and unsurprisingly one that is a degree removed from reality and is the one that the site participants have the most control over; anything therein being filtered by the cushion of a self-insert, not unlike the wiggle room and play given by use of an RP character.
So, we see the impinging of a cavalier attitude, and the impinging of a flippancy into the mainlist articles. Something that LSF would say as such:
“There’s definitely less of an emphasis on clinical language, which I actually like as that was all a weird sham anyway, but at the cost of precision. I often feel like, some authors aside, people don’t really do much specific research much any more, stuff feels based on stereotypes and can be quite generic.”
The effect is the annexation of the long-stood “-J” categorization of articles into the mainlist, the distinction and allowance for the zany, the wacky, the unapologetically incongruous to be elevated and celebrated as is, and without the need for the added designation. Articles that were in the past chuted towards the -J sensibility are now excused as the mainlist variety. Examples are common in modern articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc) and have no shortage of exemplars to mimic (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc).
It can be mentioned here in footnote that the exemplar figures who have most helped popularize this style are also the ones who have a penchant for marketing themselves aggressively; this generously affords the turn-key argument that the proliferation of this style, its success, and therefore the reasoning as to why other authors would want to mimic it, their success — and on and on — is that marketing effort itself, above and beyond what the writing alone would merit in the form of attention. The insecure ambition of the self-situated “outcasts” in the community are quick to mimic this marketing strategy, as it provides them the fastest and most direct pathway to the cultural acceptance that they believe is what is lacking in their identities and lives.
The relaxing of the once-taught confines that would relegate an article’s appropriateness away from the mainlist to excuse the failure of suspension of disbelief that such articles proudly convey, is like an aging abdomen sagging over its belt line. The supply of humor has been collected from any meta-level material and stuffed inside the make-believe world of the SCP site, where there is no chance that it could be directed at someone, or some quality that they regard as untouchable.
In the place of this humor is the sort of megalomaniacal aggression and oppression, typical of that newly collegiate person you know for example, that saps the possibility of laughter out of a room in order to ensure a caveman-esque obsession with a top-of-the-hill dominance; a deeply insecure individual constantly waving their I’m-smarter-than-you cudgel and getting into stick fights with others.
Not to be outdone by the Puritan caricature, the model SCP citizen is intolerant of any suggestion of impropriety in the face of Staff-sanctioned beliefs, which are like commandments written on stone tablets. Like with the Christian variety of fundamentalism, their reaction to critical thought applied to these beliefs is not one of genuine posturing; it is defensive, and one that prioritizes total and complete adherence to the continued fixation of the religion’s established beliefs above all.
As such, there is a razor-thin margin of error for users when it comes to how others will perceive their dedication to the culture’s adeptly-defended sensitivities. Subjugation is mandatory. Anything less than exhibiting a theatrical moral outrage to a lack of a sanctuary-level sterility is too public a flagrancy; you can be shamed for not being outraged enough.
We see this corroborated in LSF’s walking away from the interview, actions speaking loudest. LSF does his consistency no favors here; he regrets how there’s an insular nature to the community and culture, yet swiftly amputates any potential cross-ideological (and civil) discussion; he decries the race to the bottom of insta-victimhood at SCP, but then plays that card on pH as moral justification and leverage for his abrupt leave.
In other words, he has granted this under- and mis-informed group of wailing, offended people at SCP the privilege and superiority of being worthy of instant believability merely by virtue of their claimed harm; while in reality, there has been no such dox from this interviewer and much less harm done to the giant of SCP than to pH here. (Wasn’t the Staff rationale for keeping pH’s articles against her will the aversion of harm and injury to the site?) LSF honors the moral high ground to SCP a priori and de facto, based on nothing but his religion’s tendency to honor such things without question or proper investigation... a religious web that he is just so close to wriggling out of. The hearsay of reputation and hurtful activity perpetrated against a protected and privileged class is accepted wholesale despite clear political incentives for doing so, and LSF counts himself sufficiently informed after just this. Again, another irony presenting itself almost maddeningly to our nets; he perpetuates the act just identified as a big problem; “you were mean to people so your ideas are invalid”.
Within the community, for those like pH, deviance — even backed by legitimate grievances — is punishable by a sort of virtual death, sacrificed in funureal example to the deity of false and leveraged transparency on O5 Command. The capital punishment with which some are dragged backwards out of the city is also the righteousness by which those casting out self-supply the religious authority and assignment to do so. The act is rationalized by its own momentum.
It is not hard to be certain, then, that the migration of humor on SCP is a reflection of how pathologically serious — and seriously pathological— the place has become. A community that is either drugged or bugging out in anticipation of the next high, the + of the rating module the new crucifix, is bound to lose its ability to find joy where it is meant to be.
The effect of this holistically is a strangulating one; on community diversity, sure, but also and more importantly, a loss of nuance and the ability to think critically about groups of people, making a degree of thought-regression and stagnation inevitable and by now, clinically pronounced.
At SCP, the environmental ossification necessary for this stagnation came about incidentally; the Staff unwittingly petrified their environment as a dynamic body by their irresponsible and myopic purging in the June 2018 Logo Fiasco. Since, we have seen a growing selectivity and narrowing tolerance emerge from and within the too-late-now-already-done consolation that SCP (the Staff mainly) administer to themselves to salvage a sense of managerial consolation. We see, only a cautious three years later, that Staff is again comfortable repeating what they initially mishandled, aware that all the fruit has been thrown, all would-be blasphemers have been torched, the coast is now clear, and no significant further damage can possibly be added to the wreckage.
The religion is now safe to deploy and flourish.
SCP Staff’s Role
It was doubtless staff who spearheaded the ballistics necessary to incentivize the culture to be religious in its posture, though surely not to the the extent of recreating a mirrored sort of exclusivity and persecution for those it would in turn regard as marginal, outsiders not worthy of basic human recognition.
Over time, this positive turn towards progression and a welcomeness reciprocal to the demographic’s pitch of victimization became not the placing down of the primitive whip of tribal superiority and persecution, but merely the exchanging hands of that whip. There was not enough revolution in the rubble of what this initiative wrought to keep it from being reconstructed in full into an identical structure of oppression and exclusion. By its over-extension into a sort of religion, this misstep both displays the dangers of individualized courtship to a sliver (and still thin minority) of a userbase, and also the unfortunate but intended truth that differences in sexual or political identity do not comprise true distinctions or separations among basic humanity and its inner workings; whether by which to favor the entrusting of a site to someone new, or revile them as too different.
What was intended to be an executive extension in peace has, due to the force required to counteract the sheer hostility and persecution once leveled at this group at its peak, instead overshot its mark and has become a brutal bureaucratic sanctioning of political identity. (I can hear someone saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.)
So eventually, and inevitably, by 2018 and 2019 the private Staff chat logs reveal not a positive beckoning but a guarded discrimination. There are overt political prerequisites and ineligibility therefrom when it comes to who gets the nod for staff adoption, for promotion, and for who gets canned. (For the archaeologically inclined, check out the 2019 #site67 staff chat logs and search “idk why reverend fox is up for promotion”, and supplement it here, for a taster.)
As luck would have it, we have recently been given a good example of both the lack of tolerance for anything approaching disrespect to the political values at SCP and of Staff’s canonizing it via convoluted bureaucratic maneuvers.
In August, a proposition was made to un-ARC certain articles. This was a seemingly benign and innocuous policy, but Staff being Staff, there were still those who swore there must be something ulterior about it; it was too quiet. While that conspiracy hasn’t really played out, it’s true that there was a specific application in mind the entire time, and we are seeing it in the first usage of the passed policy, in SCP-252-ARC.
The initial implementation of this new policy was to get rid of an article that was heavily in the negatives. Now, strictly speaking, this proposal was smart and a good thing because arcs were really, and especially back in the time of this article, doled out with no real reasoning or requisite. There was no better argument for keeping this arced article than the fiat declaration of a long-gone staff member.
However, there were questions of political insensitivity around this article too.
Given that there is a culture at SCP that takes every opportunity to siphon moral high ground and rhetorical clout from the interpretation of perceived insult and offense, would you guess that Staff left the deletion of this article strictly up to its rating? As probably should have been the case, in the interest of an impartial and fair governing body?
Unfortunately, the staff member who proposed this new policy and the one who suggested first using it on this arc article, stated explicitly in the OP of the thread on 05 Command that it was this political ambiguity, the question of this political insensitivity, that was “most important” in the list of reasons to get rid of it. Not the fact that it was -80 or that it was only being protected by a flimsy moment of decision making.
We now revisit thedeadlymoose who has been with the site so long that they were present when the article originally was published.
If you want to know what 2011 staff were thinking, please feel free to peruse my 2011 posts, which I stand by.
Although I probably wouldn’t upvote it now simply because it’s so much easier to rewrite things and I don’t like the addenda playing this for laughs.
FYI, many of the people who wanted to keep this article were queer, including myself (though I will not publicly out anyone else, and I’ll thank y’all not to speculate if you don’t already know).
2011-era queer staff & community members are the reason this community is safe for queer people at all, and we went through a lot of pain to do that, and some of us found that pain echoed in this SCP, as badly written as it is.
Your hatred is valid. Please don’t be unkind to us because you hate this SCP.
And this is not simply their own opinion of themself:
23:38:51: <Roget> It would be a shame to see you leave the site, we do need people who can drive new creative stuff, and care about bringing up the tenor of writing around here. I’m not sure where we’d head next without you being near the helm.
23:39:33: <thedeadlymoose> The site would survive me leaving, I assure you. It might not be better, but it might not be worse. That said, that’s very much appreciated
23:39:55: <Roget> I don’t think you leaving would spark an existential crisis, but I think it wouldn’t be the same.
23:40:04: <thedeadlymoose> Well, same with you.
23:40:13: <thedeadlymoose> And same for a lot of people who could leave. ._. heh
23:40:22: <Roget> I don’t think so, re: for me
23:40:30: <Roget> I don’t have nearly the impact you do on just, everything
23:40:40: <Roget> I just do little side stuff compared to what you do
23:40:42: <thedeadlymoose> But yeah. My partner is a professional web designer / content specialist. but I never wanted to bring them into this community — and still largely don’t, mind you — because of the drama and the… issues with queer-friendliness, racism, etc.
23:40:46: <thedeadlymoose> (Though that’s much less bad this time)
23:40:51: <thedeadlymoose> (around this time)
23:41:12: <Roget> Things are way, way better than they’ve been
23:41:35: <Roget> since I joined in 2012, significantly, and I think a lot of that is due to you and people like soulless and the ouster of people like echo and ecks
thedeadlymoose’s original comments gave the article praise. Those comments have of course been deleted by now, but have been saved in anticipation of this post:
In the new discussion, thedeadlymoose reaffirms that their interpretation of the article is not problematic per se. In fact, the article’s political tones “echo the pain” those pivotal staff members endured, the inclusion acting as a sort of memorial for them to appreciate and reminisce over. However, as we discussed previously as evidence against SCP being a cult, thedeadlymoose’s words really meant nothing when they should have meant enough. Furthermore, they had to defend themself from being ridiculed for not calling for its deletion, to participate, and thereby further validate the group ritual. It was as if the resident epidemiologist walked in to comment on whether or not something was an epidemic, gave their opinion of it not being so, and the bureaucratic consensus went in the other direction anyway.
Even ignoring all of that, the fact remains that this apparent satire of a politically identifying group of people, “the gay bomb”, was and is a real world object. It’s not some fantasy created with the misused authority of fiction and intended to be a satire of the offended group. In this case, reality was stranger than fiction. But that whole bypassing of the controversy, which in more rational and less religious contexts it might be understood as, is collapsed and compressed into the, again, all-encompassing sensitivity and consideration of a chance at potential and sustained victimhood.
It is in this way that we can see the dominance of the initiative that would see any and all vulnerability sapped for oppression points and approval from peers over the bureaucratic hesitancy and restraint suggested by more grounded thinking.
Now let me clarify here for a second, I don’t think that the deletion of the article is indicative of a political purging. The article was at -80. That’s really the only and sufficient reason it needed to be deleted. All else was moot. The point is that those presiding over this otherwise reasonable removal could not help themselves but construe it in the most politically egregious and fueling way to their culture. It was as if a ceremony, and the moment had come, cued by the lighting of some lantern, to recite a prayer, even if it’s pointed out that it wasn’t actually a lantern that was lit, but a cell phone that was turned on. No matter; proceed.
The caricature has again painted itself on the canvas. The culture would rather find something problematic, because doing so applauds their victimhood complex as it assumes its throne as the most important thing that could be going on; more meaningful then rationale, more pressing than -80 votes, and more valuable than what is gained by concluding in the opposite direction.
In this way, Staff have adorned themselves with lanyards and shawls that convert their volunteer status as custodial roles into a clergy. There is a structural, hierarchical reinforcement of sanctioned, treasured, privileged people, and a dogma that they instantiate. Staff is like a vacuum, exerting effort to gather unto them all the crumbs of oppression and the dead dust of a bygone era of more extreme cultural marginalization (for better or for worse, someone does not get to count themselves as marginalized and fringe if the symbols they identify with are sufficiently acceptable so as to be adopted, dishonestly yes, by a majority of the most dominant corporate entities and political institutions, say, in a country nonetheless… proofs that the group isn’t as discriminated against as it once was at the least). The mining of this natural resource is converted into a battery that the religion at SCP relies on for continued power. This of course includes the vacuuming of potential satire, potential mockery, potential dissidents &their differing ideas that have the chance to indicate something of hostility, and ultimately the vibrancy and freedom that a creative writing site needs in order to exist.
As is witnessed in the interplay an overlap of all three of these factors: the divisive and impassable demarcation of an in- and out-group along with the moral treatment given to each, the recession of humor from increasingly hallowed spaces, and the staff sanctioned disciplinary structure; all are entangled to each other and coalesce the knot of a terse religion that by now has germinated, the cute but deeply-implying stalk of which can be seen above the soil now, continuously drinking in all light given to it.
This begs the question: if SCP has a religion, or at least a fledgling and not very impressive variety of one, what is it a religion of exactly? The answer should be obvious by now. It’s a religion of competitive sensitivity. It derives its ethical and moral values from the equivocation of vulnerability with virtue, of victimhood with sainthood. It is a religion of, as our post’s guest states, “that climate of envy, the creeping moralism that dictates that the more pathetic you can be, the higher ground you have.”
This mentality is born out of a legitimate vulnerability that the LGBTQ+ community has historically experienced — truly epitomized by those pioneers in the early 2010’s on Staff — as a marginalized, misunderstood, and persecuted group.
And if anyone is to shoulder blame for the creation of this pathology and its complex, it is those true bigots of history and today, who don’t have the spiritual maturity to understand that someone’s sexual preference or identity shouldn’t be enough to categorically separate them from a definition of humanity; to beat, maim, and wish death upon them. These are incredibly destructive, immature, and unthinking people who are, in a germinal spirit followed through with to different lengths, not unlike an individual suddenly finding himself in an interview with a character they are displeased with, and who thus sacrifices a shared passion to the empowerment of a fundamentalist discrimination. In both — though one’s threat of harm is obviously much worse and literal, while the others is ugly but figurative — is an intolerance, a religious one, that prevents the individual from identifying that more important things, more uniting things, are present. In an unfortunate and well-studied pattern of abuse perpetuation, the most trauma-radicalized of SCP’s LGBTQ+ identifying community have used the blunt end of an oppressive and religious treatment to, in turn, re-create that oppressive religion, just now in the direction of others, the weapon pointed at a new margin.
It bears repeating in the apparent tragedy here that the ultimate message is one of commonality and unity, although in the depressing setting of humanity’s inevitable flaws and weaknesses. Identifying as one group or another does not inherently make anyone worse, and it doesn’t by the same token make anyone better. The mechanics at play in the ability of power to corrupt humans applies equally to LGBTQ+ individuals as it does to the non-LGBTQ+ ones; or as much to RPC as to SCP.
It’s the message the SCP has missed, and is what’s actively forming a religion there. The ability to destroy what was once the instrument of their oppression now in their command, they have instead decided to keep the ring of power for themselves, too taken with a taste of what it is like to hold it. As such, the mechanism of action underlying this religion requires and necessitates that the perception of a profoundly sustained oppression remains and that the intent of hostility in any of the out-group members is as real and scary as it always has been. These things are false.
And yet, the hollowed out carcass of this body of thinking is what houses SCP‘s morality. It’s where the idea that sensitivity equates power comes from; where a manufactured weakness is equivocated with strength of character; and where a capacity to be offended is equal to a capacity to lead. The end goal, as always, being power, this is glorified and gladiatorialized into a religion of comparative vulnerability.
This reputation, front, false rehearsal of spirituality and morality, is what those in the Staff are desperate to maintain the facade of; it is the almighty brand.
One can see perhaps how well this dovetails nicely into a culture of one-upmanship and basal competition for upvotes. The upvote is the quantum of cultural reach, of colonization of ones values into that station whereby the perpetually self-marginalized can cash in their oppression for (apparently) more meaningful internet points. Indeed, there are intersections of these religion and upvote parallels, contained in individual authors that we might inspect more closely in further blog posts…
If SCP is the bleeding edge, the blood, it would seem, left the heart first, and next the brain; last of all the pestiferous muscles that still twitch unconvincingly to this day. The bloodletting is set into the mold of a tribal and sacrificial exsanguination, a sort of ceremonial procession to the god of theatrical offense.
I am not speaking of all SCP users and never have been. It takes a particularly repellent contempt and stupidity to place what are unique individuals under the abstract rubric of a political identity (“Staff”, which as a word its own members capitalize into a proper and thus a singularly-addressable entity, is excused from this)… the error that SCP makes of RPC no less, that LSF makes of pH.
What I have in mind rather is the dismal succession of opportunities given to those who make decisions for the site and the rest of the community, all brought to power in the anticipation of a glory they once doled out worshipfully as stake for a return share of it one day. In their ever-more risible arrogance and pathological pettiness, Staff do not care for the growing immiseration of assumed status, know nothing of actual social solidarity in the name of virtuous ideals, degrade the act of writing and those who bring it to them willingly, destroy the fabric of the community for personal vanity and, armed with an ignominiously clear conscience, promote a Calvinism that treats article success as a divine dispensation.
Nor am I making a general statement about LGBTQ+ psychology. There are plenty of LGBTQ+ who see the extortion of a political and arbitrary group into a mechanism and weapon for political power as insulting and ridiculous. The less religious LGBTQ+ people, the more down-to-earth, everyday, and less-insecure of them, don’t feel the need to build an oppressive religion to validate their lifestyle. They are the sort of people who don’t want the special treatment, the setting apart on the basis of a stuck-together political category. And I would know. I’ve been bisexual since I understood who I was over a decade ago.
Instead, this is commentary on a sect of SCP that is using the LGBTQ+ demographic and political identity as a blunt weapon, a wedge of inexhaustible derision. This is a plea for this sort of religious person in an otherwise respectable situation to calm down.
The gradual tunneling of acceptable thoughts at SCP is not to say that the Overton window cannot move, leaving some far behind and on the outside with no means to look in. It is this movement that constitutes a perpetual sharpening and shedding of the real, edgy, and marginalized voices and thoughts from the gravitational center of the community.
A new edge of the culture is sliced off in order to rid itself of the nuisance, but to also continuously differentiate a less-sensitive “them” by which someone can create more cultural capital to cash in. A sort of physics happens here; the edge once sliced and cut off, does not disappear; a new one is simply created and that sharp, edgy surface is reborn in its place, someone next in line in degrees removed from some awful center now representing a new margin to feed the religion with as sacrifice. The result is perpetually less available territory and mass to the whole thing; a stubborn and envious cancer eating away at the body, the rotten and picked-apart carcass of which will, yes, become the tabernacle of a cult in time.
© Lack of Lepers, 2021