So a new family has just moved into the ward. They’re a little different. Okay, really, they’re quite a bit different, don’t you think? She seems more than a bit socially awkward, and his comments in Sunday School that first Sunday were way off-script. And their kids–talk about unruly, and you should know because your own have been pretty out of control at times. But nothing compared to this. It was like a realistic re-enactment of the Arab Spring in sacrament meeting last Sunday. “Look, in this ward, we kind of want to keep the Spirit here. Take your kid out for Pete’s sake.”
Then there’s the “Perfect Family” that you secretly envy but generally can’t stand. She’s stunningly beautiful, he’s unbelievably successful, and their kids are about as cute as can be. Never has fortune so blessed a single family. In 9 years, as far as you can tell, their biggest problem happened when they were agonizing over whether to move to NYC for a job promotion and even more money but “courageously” decided that “the Lord wanted them to stay here.” Remember this last Saturday, at the ward activity, when the 4 year old tipped over the punch bowl and spilled juice everywhere? And she totally lost it on him? Wasn’t that nice, to see a little reality check? Not so perfect after all, honey. You wondered what really goes on in that house behind closed doors.
And then there’s the family with the disabled child, and the mom’s kind of a basket case with depression (not to mention really awkwardly overweight), and the husband has a truly dead-end job that doesn’t make ends meet. They’re like Bizarro Perfect Family, exactly the opposite in every way. They canNOT seem to get their act together. You just happen to know, actually, being in one of the ward presidencies, that they’ve been on church assistance basically since they moved into the ward like 4 years ago. Of course, they’re dealing with some heavy duty stuff, but seriously, is it really possible for things to go SO badly for one family for so long? Sure, circumstances and all, but they simply must be doing something wrong. So weird that the bishop hasn’t been able to get through to them.
But look, we need to have a little chat, because you’re doing it all wrong. You know, shunning, excluding. I mean, not just your actual method (which is shoddy) but you’re so damn lazy about it. You’re just kind of, I don’t know, indifferent to the whole process, and because of that it’s not working very well. Most of these people don’t even know how you feel. You’re pretty tight-lipped around them, but the main problem is you’re “tight-eyed” around them, too. Remember: it’s in the eyes. That’s how they’re really going to know what their place is. You really need to improve your glances and looks of disdain and disapproval, make sure you run into them in the hall in order to pass on the other side, or congregate in Cliques (more on the importance of these in a moment) far enough away to maintain visible social distance but not too far away so as to lose deprecatory eye contact. I’ve seen you position yourself way too close and way too far away and frankly it makes you look like an idiot, like someone who’s heart just isn’t in it but they don’t know it yet. Pathetic. Remember. The eyes.
Cliques are beyond obvious but even here you’re really screwing up. Don’t you care about anything? The purpose of cliques isn’t to outright shun, but to create a wholly alternative, near utopian elite social community, and it is that that does the work of shunning, like building a machine and winding it up and letting it go. If you build the right Clique (or “caucus” in the DC wards and “coterie” in New England) you’ll actually have to do very little shunning yourself. See how that works? The Clique has to establish itself through announcement and discourse. There should be a constant stream of informal, word-of-mouth announcements about this or that get-together or party or social event, usually transmitted in semi-hushed but still vocal tones. And pretty much everything said by anyone in the Clique should be about the Clique. Like Fight Club, but the exact opposite: “The First Rule of the Clique is that you Always Talk About the Clique.” Where it’s going to be, how much you love it, how you’d give your life for male or female member, how your testimony essentially finds meaning and fulfillment in it, etc. And remember, for the love of all that is holy REMEMBER: When a non-member asks about or refers to the clique in any way, DO NOT simply say that he or she cannot be a part of the clique. That only emboldens them to not desire your company or the social reward of the clique and now the work of shunning is destroyed. Instead, brush off the significance of the clique and change the subject briefly in order to draw attention away from it directly, but continue with subtle indirect discourse about the wonderfulness of the clique. Trust me, it’s human nature to want what you can’t have and they will be salivating from the fact that they got THIS CLOSE to clique-acceptance. Their continued alienation and envy will then be virtually guaranteed.
Finally, a word about passive-aggression. The best shunners are passive-aggressive. You know this. We’ve gone over this. You are passive in more formal situations in public, indifferent, above-the-fray, un-needy, yet tantalizing and alluring. In more private situations you are much more aggressive, conspicuous in your disdain, sarcastic about others’ flaws, etc. But not too aggressive!!! Again, too much aggression emboldens them to seek sociality elsewhere, and possibly actually achieve it. Recall the primary goal of shunning–that others know their place, that peace and tradition and the status quo are preserved, in order for you to achieve the long-lasting social ranking that is the entire point of living in a religious community.
Now, repent, heed my advice, and try not to look too much like a moron while you’re doing it.
Also, you’re standing a little too close. There, that’s better.