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Is there a single word, or a phrase, that can describe a group of people that mindlessly support someone/something regardless of the many obvious flaws they exhibit?

I suppose some context is necessary here.
I've come to personally know a rather unsavoury character over the past few months, so for the sake of the question, I'll refer to her as "N".

N is an online blogger who has somehow gained a massive fan following, despite the fact that she is evidently narcissistic, and also rather ostentatious. On top of that, N often asks her followers to provide her with criticism on her online presence, and their honest opinion of her. If the viewpoints provided even happens to be slightly negative (despite honest), the follower in question receives severe backlash from her fan following, if not from N herself.

What would be a single word that could describe N's fan following? Note that I've heard of the term "circlejerk" but I'd prefer something less vulgar, and more appropriate.

  • Either that's supposed to be an insult to me, a reference to something I don't know, or both. Either way, you'd know how I felt if you knew N. @Mitch – Anjunadeep Aug 7 '15 at 14:07
  • A group of losers. – user66974 Aug 7 '15 at 14:58
  • Sounds like a mutual appreciation society. – Anonym Aug 7 '15 at 15:45
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    "Zealot" comes close to fitting. – Hot Licks Aug 7 '15 at 17:21
  • 4
    It's called a "religion". – Lee Daniel Crocker Aug 7 '15 at 20:06

11 Answers 11

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Zealot: "One who is zealous, esp. one who is overzealous; a fanatical partisan" Webster's New Collegiate. Zeal: "Ardor in the pursuit of anything; ardent and active interest; enthusiasm; fervor". Same reference)

I don't think, by itself, zealot captures what you are looking for. How about wacko zealot? Wacko "a person who is crazy or very strange and unusual" Merriam Webster. or demented zealot Demented: "insane, mad" Webster's New Collegiate

Sentence: N's fans are a bunch of wacko zealots; they'd be funny if the existence of people like that weren't so scary.

  • Suitably insulting, and at the same time grammatically correct. Perfect. Thank you. – Anjunadeep Aug 8 '15 at 4:13
8

You could say she has a cult. Cults, and cultists, usually have a negative connotation.

Cult - obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for, idolization of, devotion to, worship of, veneration of

Some other terms could be:

Forlorn - Pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely, unlikely to succeed or be fulfilled; hopeless

Abject - extremely bad, unpleasant, and degrading

Nugatory - Of no value or importance, Useless; futile

  • The phrase "cult following" may work, but I would normally associate a "cult" with something that is great to begin with. The cult itself may not be positive, but what it's built around might be likeable. – Anjunadeep Aug 7 '15 at 14:14
  • While referring to movies, books, etc. a cult following is usually good, typically when you are talking about a group of people thinking about them as a cult is generally derogatory and dismissive. But if you want something else I will keep looking. – Yeshe Aug 7 '15 at 14:20
  • Indeed, "cult following" has been repurposed by the media to refer to the admirers of an relatively obscure artist, usually with the implication that the speaker him- or herself believes that artist is underappreciated. I think the questioner can get closer to the negative connotation desired by calling them "cultists", which evokes the image of a bizarre religious group led by a hypocritical manipulator being idolized by the mentally unstable. – Doug Warren Aug 7 '15 at 14:30
  • I suppose "cultist" somehow not only sounds appropriate, but also more insulting. I guess it works. – Anjunadeep Aug 7 '15 at 14:31
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You could call them lemmings. A lemming has a secondary definition regarding being a member of a group that mindlessly follow each other over a cliff:

a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction
The Free Dictionary by Farlex

  • There's no suggestion that these blog followers will suffer destruction, though. They are merely fans. – EleventhDoctor May 8 '17 at 13:35
  • Perhaps. It depends on how important to treat the lost cause constraint in the title. – jxh May 9 '17 at 5:11
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A person who irrationally supports a lost cause is a "dead ender." From Beyond the Iraq War: The Promises, Pitfalls and Perils of External Intervention:

He was supposed to be the classic archetype of a 'dead ender' insurgent, Ba'athist to the core, desiring the return of an elite Sunni Ba'athist rule.

In spite of your title, you seem to want a word to describe people dedicated to a person, not a cause. And ardent follower is a "devotee": an ardent worshipper is an "acolyte." Both could be applied to members of a cult of personality, but neither necessarily implies the willingness to accept abuse.

  • I've heard it as "bitter ender" not dead ender. – Oldcat Aug 7 '15 at 21:47
  • Wasn't dead-ender introduced in the context of the Iraq War by the same guy who didn't want to use the word insurgent? It reminds me of the Beyond the Fringe routine where the head of Scotland Yard insists on referring to a criminal mastermind as a mindermast, to avoid "depressing the men." – Sven Yargs Aug 8 '15 at 1:04
  • Not quite apt. There's no suggestion that the blogger described is at a dead end like a failed political leader - they are still popular with a following. – EleventhDoctor May 8 '17 at 13:37
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You'll never win over the diehards.

From ODO:

Diehard

often as modifier

A person who strongly opposes change or who continues to support something in spite of opposition.

ODO examples include:

‘But the key to winning the elections will be whether they can mobilize their diehard supporters.’

A recent article in UK Times ran the following headline as part of their General Election coverage:

"Fruitless search for party diehards in former stronghold"

3

flat-earthers: believing in something despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary

mini- : Nancy and the mini-Nancys erupted like a ditch full of crickets when... (slavish)

robo- : Oh boy, you are going to hear it from the robo-Nancys now. (mindless)

-ettes : Nancy and the Nancettes can't stand criticism (diminutive)

  • +1 for these humorous, pejorative suggestions. Mini-Nancies particularly made me chuckle. – EleventhDoctor May 8 '17 at 13:38
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I've seen the word hivemind used in close proximity to circlejerk. It's similarly informal in my experience.

Hivemind, in particular, Groupthink - a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

  • Not quite right IMO - this blogger isn't leading a political movement as far as I can tell. They're just a popular narcissistic blogger. – EleventhDoctor May 8 '17 at 13:39
1

Her followers could be called:

Sheep A person who is too easily influenced or led:

"the party members had become sheep, and she refused to be taken in"

1

Panurge's sheep or if too literary Blind followers

  • +1 for the allusion to Rabelais—the sheep story there a sad and vivid example of deeply irrational behavior. Still, I suspect that it's not an allusion you can just toss out into a random crowd without offering an explanatory footnote to go with it. – Sven Yargs Aug 8 '15 at 7:04
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pig in the mud is an idiom that is entirely appropriate here.

A pig in the mud describes someone who is both stubborn, and comfortable where they are.

What it highlights is that from everyone else's perspective, there is something wrong with their view point (ie. it's muddy and gross), but from their perspective (because they're a pig), they're happy with it.

It also highlights the stubbornness or stuckfastness of person being described. A pig is stubborn, and it's hard to remove anything from mud.

It gives rise to the amusing saying:

Don't wrestle with pigs in the mud. You'll both get dirty, but the pig likes it.

Here's some examples:

The GOP is a pig in the mud in today's politics. Their policies are antiquated and serve just the elite, but unless they really examine them self, they're going to fall by the wayside.

The Anti-vax movement is alarming pig in the mud health conspiracy. Regardless of the abundance of evidence that shows the safety and efficacy of vaccines, anti-vaxxers are comfortable in instead imagine and global pharmaceutical conspiracy.

0

How about:

  1. mob - violent bunch of people
  2. herd - group of mindless people, exhibit herd instinct
  3. gang - dangerous bunch of people, usually following a leader(s)
  4. horde/army/legion - fighters/large group of people
  5. pack - as in either wolfpack or ratpack

protected by Community Aug 8 '15 at 6:05

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