People have written firsthand horror stories about what it was like inside Scientology. It’s all on the internet. And of course, Scientology doesn’t want anybody reading that stuff. I had to work up to going online at all, after so many years of indoctrination that the internet was evil.
But they shot themselves in the foot when they came up with their “Scientologist Online” solution to the internet problem. That was a project to counteract all the negative information that was piling up about them on the internet. They wanted Scientologists to put up their profiles online, including biographical data that seemed to prove, “Hey, look at me. I’m just like you.”
The Event where they released the news of this fantastic new project was L. Ron Hubbard’s Birthday Event (a high holy day for Scientology) in 1998. I was there. Everybody at the event got a “birthday gift from Ron” – their very own CD. This would bring us all into the computer age and make it easy for us to put up our profiles.
In reality, these CDs resulted from an arrangement with Earthlink — who stood to make a lot of money from new subscribers. Sky Dayton, a Scientologist graduate of the Delphi School in Oregon, had founded the company. I’m sure he got brownie points for generously providing every Scientologist – free of charge (!!!) – with their very own software. Oh, and by the way, the CD installed Earthlink as their internet service provider.
Scientology’s internet “Net Nanny”
Along with the internet service (unbeknownst to me at the time), you also got your very own Net Nanny programmed into the software. This would automatically prevent you from going to certain websites, many of which contained data Scientology didn’t want you to know about. One day, I found that out by accident, even though I wasn’t even looking for negative data about them – and as yet had no idea that kind of information existed.
One day at the shop, Hansuli Stahli (one of Scientology’s local high muckety-mucks) was in my chair talking about it and asking me if I was going to put up my profile. I was still an active Scientologist at the time, so I asked him if I’d be able to update my bio after I finished subsequent courses. He said that’s not the way it works, that the data becomes part of the site and property of the “church,” once it’s up there.
I thought that was odd. My biographical data belongs to me – not to some website or to anybody else. And if the website was going to show outdated information about me, I’d just as soon not have it up there. And I told him I didn’t think I wanted to do that. I wasn’t angry about it or anything. Just stating facts.
Fast forward a few days, when I received my Earthlink magazine in the mail, which they used to send out to all their subscribers. I read an interesting article that said I could go to a university website for more information. But my computer wouldn’t take me there. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I called Earthlink’s customer service to troubleshoot the problem.
No help from help desk
After I explained the problem, I waited on hold for an inordinately long time, before some help desk guy came on the line and told me it wasn’t possible for me to go to that site. Of course, I wanted to know why, and he had no good reason. Just that the software wasn’t designed for me to access that site. He even seemed somewhat irate that I would want to go there.Even though I don’t consider myself technically savvy (I’m a hairdresser, for pete’s sake), even I could smell a rat. Click To Tweet
Why would they have their magazine send me somewhere for more information, and then design their software to make it so I couldn’t go there? It reflected badly on Earthlink. And it stuck in my mind as an unresolved question.
Not that I was looking for negative data about Scientology, but I got curious about why they were saying the internet was so bad. Before that, I was a comparatively docile little sheep, wanting nothing more than to continue my bogus journey to the top of their “Bridge to Total Freedom.”
I couldn’t go to a perfectly legitimate website. That didn’t seem like “Total Freedom” to me. And those Earthlink people were keeping me from it. Bad, bad Earthlink people! How incompetent! Designing their software that made it impossible for me to go to a website their own magazine recommended.
I dodged a bullet
It’s only in retrospect that I finally realized Earthlink wasn’t the culprit at all. I was blindly groping my way out of the cult and didn’t know it at the time. So thank you, Earthlink help desk guy. You did help me after all.
Since then, I’ve found out that the internet is a great resource. I get over half my library books by way of internet apps.
Also in retrospect, I’m appalled that it took me five more years to figure out that it was time for me to move on. Leaving Scientology is a process. For me, discovering the Net Nanny was a milestone on the road out. Click To Tweet