Twitter Atheists: What we were, and what we’ve become

**Disclaimer #1: I am absolutely not in the business of telling people how to tweet. You should always be free to say what you want- that is the beauty of twitter. I don’t intend to offend anyone, though I likely will.
**Disclaimer #2: This is my fucking blog. If you’re offended, kindly fuck off 🙂

************

Now, for something completely different, I’m going to write a blog post about atheism. I know that’s seemingly all I write about… but this post is directed at us- the twitter atheists.

I will not be surprised if many you reading this whole heartedly disagree with me, or are super offended to the point of unfollowing and blocking me. Well, go ahead. This is something I’d like to share my opinion on. And as it turns out, what people think of me, even fellow atheists, doesn’t really mean shit. There’s also the off chance that some of you out there may agree with me, small though it may be.

Atheists on Twitter… what are we? I don’t know anymore. I can tell you what we used to be, though. When I started tweeting regularly last July, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of people on twitter who were interested in religion, science, and actually discussing the merits of these things with one another. Having a background as a devout Christian, I found this terribly interesting, and was delighted to have found such an easily accessible outlet to talk about my past and discuss those topics that interested me. Finding a community of like-minded individuals was wonderful and something I had never expected to stumble across.

I learned a lot in my first few months as an “atheist tweeter”. I knew as much as anyone about Christianity, having lived it for so long. But I learned so much more about other religions, proper debating techniques, myths and misconceptions about atheism… Furthermore I began to recognize media stories where religion was the cause of unbelievable pain, suffering, and oppression of people, which normally would have passed by me un-noticed. I found Twitter to be an outlet for my anger at the fact that in 2013, homosexuals are still a marginalized population- and found that so many other atheists agreed with me. I realized there was an enormous gap between what theists knew and what they THOUGHT they knew. Twitter was fun, and entertaining. Once I became immersed in this community of like minded individuals, that’s what it became for me. A place to be entertained, make some friends, have interesting, thought provoking discussions, and hopefully, on occasion, be entertaining for others.

Recently, I’ve noticed things begin to change, and unfortunately, they’ve changed for the worse. We’ve always had some challenges within the atheist community. My personal modus operandi has been quite simple- be informative, be funny, but do not be insulting or intentionally mean. In my humble opinion, atheists who spend their time “debating” by calling theists cunts, idiots, fuckwits, or anything else, are terribly detrimental to our community. Insulting people is the first sign that you have nothing intelligent to say. It’s a tactic quite often employed against me by theists, and I cringe to see that behaviour repeated by atheists. We boast that we’re rational, logical, and intelligent- but this behaviour makes that statement a total mockery. It’s childish, and it’s uncalled for, and it gives the rest of us a bad name. If you can’t debate someone intelligently, then let me be frank- don’t fucking comment on my tweets. I post some tweets for everyone to see, and welcome intelligent feedback. But often, the response I get from atheists is to insult the individual I’m talking to. This is not constructive, and makes you look like an idiot.

Sadly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. However, lately, some other strange things have been happening that I was not expecting, and am not sure how to handle. One I will mention only briefly, because I honestly don’t believe it’s worth my time, is the atheist superhero groups. Any group that tries to set up rules, dogma, and leaders for atheism is ironic to the point of being ridiculous, let alone completely unnecessary. From what I can tell, the sole purpose of this group is to try and make members feel more important, or “elite”, than the general twitter population by excluding those they do not deem “worthy”. Well, let me tell you something. You all look ridiculous, and I wouldn’t be caught dead associating with your group. I’ll be quite honest- I refuse, at this time, to follow anyone with an “ASH” tag on their name, because I so disagree with what you stand for. Sorry. (I’m not sorry.)

There has been something else going on that has really begun to get under my skin, more than anything I’ve mentioned thus far. I’ve noticed an incredible, seemingly unstoppable trend of over-inflated egos among a countless number of people I follow. Words like “twitter elite” and “twitter rockstars” are thrown around; people fawn over celebrities, trying to get a reply, or a retweet, or a follow; people retweet compliments they get from others, or boast about follower numbers, or how many RTs a specific tweet got. Why? Why do we do this? I know people will say “Well Twitter is all about followers!” and it is, to a point. But to me it’s about connecting with people, sharing my story, hearing what others have to say… it’s about sharing interesting articles or funny memes, saying something poetic or thought provoking, or being the voice for the millions of voiceless atheists in the world. It’s about being entertaining and being entertained. To me, it’s not about having everyone see how amazing I am by retweeting a nice compliment someone gave me. It’s not about impressing a celebrity or making it onto their “special list”. It’s not about being “elite” or an “atheist twitter celebrity” or a “twitter rockstar”. What the fuck do any of those things even mean? I’m sorry to break the news to you- but you aren’t a celebrity, and neither am I. None of us are famous. And to be quite frank, if I were famous, I’d prefer it to be for an actual accomplishment, and not for making fun of theists on twitter.

Yes, I know, some good things come from our strange form of twitter atheism. People are encouraged to be bold and speak up, to take action, or to stand up for equality. Some people may begin to question their faith, or make the transition from agnostic to agnostic atheist, or actually learn what those terms mean. Others may be comforted simply in knowing there are other atheists out there, and that they really are not alone. All of these are wonderful side effects of Twitter. But we used to accomplish those same things without the division, the groups, the over-inflated egos, and the fawning over celebrities. My timeline, and likely yours as well, is no longer full of thoughtful atheism tweets, but shout outs to celebrities and comparisons of who got more followers when they were retweeted. It just makes me cringe to witness it. Do you really think a celebrity with >4 million followers needs to be given a follow friday shout out? That is bogus to the point of insanity, and is at best a shallow ploy to be noticed.

Now, you might say, “Gee Mel, you’re sure being judgemental!” and yes, I am. And frankly I don’t care. This one-upmanship and competition and ego stroking just seems unbearably ridiculous to me and irks me to no end. We could be so much better than that, and SHOULD be better than that. So let’s keep this in perspective- I am not an elite tweeter. I am not an atheist celebrity. I am not a twitter rockstar. And neither are you.

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63 Responses to Twitter Atheists: What we were, and what we’ve become

  1. MoonWalking Unicorn says:

    I have to say I mostly agree Mel. I know I can be quick with using the “bigot” label when discussing marriage equality and that’s something I’ve been called out on before and will try and fix.

  2. Thanks for that Mel, I agree with you. When I first got here a couple of months back, I saw atheists verbally smacking xtians around and honestly I thought it was bad-ass. then I realized that If I represent Atheism as an asshole then what is the allure for a person of faith that is on the fence. That is when I wrote my blog. I had to put perspective to why I was here and why I was introduced to twitter atheist community. I was interested in the ASH folks and almost got caught up with them. Even got a picture made up, I decided that the group was not for me. I still follow some of them but I have no need to join their ranks. Some of them are quite amazing, intelligent and inspiring. All this said. I made it my point, I would always be tactful and calm in debating… up until the point that I was personally attacked or flat out knowingly lied to, and them I would hope to make the person correct them selves before resorting to a witty meme to verbally “smack” them”. Thanks you for this Post. You have had a long experience on Twitter, i am relatively new here, but I echo your sentiments exactly. If that makes folks uncomfortable. well you have a fucking unfollow button…. and so do I!

  3. Unholy_Atheist says:

    Insightful view on the state of Twitter Atheism. This is what happens when someone applies logic and reason to the status quo. I tend to agree, Region has to be challenged but there’s no point being a dick about it or all that readers take away is that you were a dick.

  4. Ratzsa says:

    I’m extremely disappointed. This relatively impressive mass of text does not offend me in the slightest. Please rework this. 😦

    I pretty much agree with you, even though I have been very guilty of resorting to insults myself. We should be nice to eachother, but it’s really so hard at times, and I’m in awe of the people who actually manage to really be nice all the time. And that isn’t many either. And even some that are seen as “always nice” are, in my opinion, sometimes not. Shame.

    Keep up the good work in any case. And don’t leave twitter after I tweeted you a sad puppy pic.

  5. @sheffield_andy says:

    Guilty as charged on a few of your points but agree in full with what you say. A great posting and I will try to stop being such an ass-hat, or at least as often, from now on 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

    Andy.

  6. Also mostly agree, and also occasionally guilty. Certainly of condescension towards ridiculous beliefs to the point of ridicule.

    It’s the damn 140 characters. Hard to get an entire point across, and sometimes all that’s left after editing is scorn.

  7. Michael says:

    I am incredibly new to twitter (around 3 months of actually tweeting). I initially joined twitter so I could keep up with the comedians I liked (Gervais and Delaney to name a couple) and have never really found the appeal of sharing my thoughts on twitter. It took me a couple of weeks to notice how strong in numbers the atheist community on twitter really was and while it was nice to find many different like-minded individuals, it quickly became tiresome watching several people continually belittle others. I think it does much more harm than good, and many people forget that, while sometimes necessary to ridicule ridiculous beliefs, be it political or religious, it should NOT be done with constant, childish name-calling. It is entirely possible to ridicule a belief by simply asking questions and maintaining respect for an individual. I find the problem comes in many atheists misconstruing Dawkins’s message of “militant atheism.”

    I’ve recently taken it one step further than yourself in this instance, and have ceased labeling myself as an atheist. I find that many atheists constantly feed the negative stereotypes that have been attributed to us; it is not something I want to identify myself with.

    Among the atheist twitter community, I think what needs to be recognized or thought about is that the belittling has the reverse effect than what we (they, I guess in my instance) intend. It, I find, strengthens that individuals’ faith in whatever it is they believe. When I made the leap from Christianity to atheism, it was NOT because I was belittled to the point where I could no longer associate myself with the idiocy that is religion. It came from introspection and asking myself the necessary questions; such as, “Why this god? Why this religion?” or “If the authors of the bible got the shape and age of the Earth wrong, what are the chances they got its ‘creation’ correct?”

    I think I “piggy backed” on several other twitter conversations a total of two times, I no longer try to do this. Though sometimes I feel it can provide some constructive information to the tweet war, often times I find people rudely interrupting. I haven’t really thought about this very much.

    I wasn’t following on twitter before reading this (thanks to that fellar secularbloke), but now I shall.

    Take care.

  8. Sarah Burger says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    When I lost my belief in god a couple of years ago, Twitter was my only outlet to look for like minded people. It brought me comfort. Now I tend to slack off from using it a lot. I have found that the more I read, the worse mood I am in. There is so much negativity. Unnecessary negativity.
    I have found over the last couple of years, at least for me, that if you approach things with that negativity instead of love, you will not get very far. You will not get far with the person you are speaking to or with yourself.
    My husband still believes in god. If I was hateful in debating with him, things would not go far. We debate with love and with the pursuit of learning more about each other and ourselves.
    I have been thinking about adjusting my twitter account, to rid my account of some of that negativity. Finding the time has been hard, but now I have more motivation, thanks to your blog. Also, I did not realize what the whole ASH thing was about. Thank you for clarifying.
    Thank you again for sharing.

  9. In principle agree, though, thought has to be given to issues I’m for all incenses and purposes at war with, messing with kids, bigotry of any kind, and any intrusion of religion into science education and government. I will get rude nasty and all in your face over these things. I will also call them out when someone points to all the good that religion has done ie charity etc. on how monies could have been better used. If they want to keep to themselves and not come knocking on my door (wall) I won’t go knocking on theirs.

  10. (V)nemoni)(s says:

    We’ll said. I like it 🙂
    Some people are dicks about their atheism, but I think that’s kind of the point. We aren’t a cohesive group, we are just people who have stopped or never started believing in god(s). Any other agenda or political stance is entirely of ones own choosing.
    People who bully others are intolerable, but they occur.
    It damages our collective image but if people can’t understand that stereotypes don’t apply to all individuals then it’s their problem not ours.
    I know some very intelligent theists. The only thing they all have in common is a belief bias. You weigh each person by their actions not their beliefs. We should try to educate, but nor bully people to change their beliefs.

    I’m glad Twitter has you on it, you may not want celebrity status, but those who can keep their calm and have the power of wit do deserve celebrating and I’ll damned well be happy to have read your work 🙂

    @mnemonixs

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well-said. I’ve been getting annoyed with a lot of the atheists I follow on here (and un-followed many), simply because I’m not an atheist so much as I am an anti-theist. I want to see an end to religion someday, a complete end– and when I see atheists tossing around “you’re an idiot to believe,” or “to think that god talks to you, you must be insane,” all I can do is cringe.

    All these things do is make those being called names *defensive,* and defensive people are *MUCH* less likely to actually listen to any argument, even a reasonable one. Yet it persists. It’s almost all-pervasive.

    I don’t tweet myself– I am pretty much a “follow only” account– and I don’t tweet for a reason; I know myself well enough to know that eventually, I’d get mad at some religious person, and I’d lose all sense of proportion. I’d start slinging the insults, and I’d do damage to a cause that I believe in.

    If I can refrain from running around and insulting people, so can the atheists who make a habit of it, and they *should.*

    Thanks for posting this, it needed to be said.

  12. Tamás Hauer says:

    Spot on. I recently started reading the “atheist tweets”, purely for light entertainment: many are really funny and thought provoking. Then I made the mistake of trying to actually contribute to a discussion, and was rather surprised by the immediate hostile attack and the complete rejection of considering what I thought was a rather interesting point. Naturally I gave up quickly, not wanting to go mudwrestling, but the lack of curiosity, scepticism, critical *thinking* astonished me. Turns out my point went on being actually discussed at length between the “veterans of the club”, myself obviously excluded. My ego won’t be hurt by this (hah!) but it’s a sad symptom, indeed. Congrats on the well written post!

  13. nakedlaughng says:

    Well said mel. Im no saint but I can wholeheartedly agree with just about everything said. I too get exhausted trying to have a normal conversation with someone and having ppl jump to insult them but not join the conversation. Having said that im sure ive also done it before myself and must try to keep in check as best I can. But this sort of assessment is needed, if only to make ppl aware of the harm being done.
    Side note, the justunfollow e t c posts irritate me to no end as well.

  14. xdangermanx says:

    While I dont feel that I’m guilty of elitism (nobody ever really does) I’m willing to admit that I’m probably just as guilty of it as the next person. This is a really good topic, something I’ve never even thought of, but I agree with you. I will try to keep this in mind the next time I get into it with a theist. My highschool debate teacher always stressed the importance of not insulting your debate opponent and it’s something that’s stuck with me all my life since then. She never mentioned anything about not sounding like a prick during the debate though. Going to have to work on that…

  15. A great article there Mel. Being only relatively new to Twitter (a few months)I have tried to engage in several discussions but I have notice many hardcore atheists sometimes resort to taking the ‘I’m more intelligent than you’ road, as well as your typical schoolyard name calling (this does occur from the theists side also – both sides are to blame).

    I’m more than happy to let individuals choose their path in life, as long as myself and my love ones are left to make our own choices.

  16. mzjax says:

    Miserable fail. I’m not in the least offended. I couldn’t even find anything to disagree with. Thanks for having the guys to put there though, because I’ve seen so many do these things.

  17. Maria Sisson says:

    Well said. I maybe guilty of ridicule so I’ll try to be nicer too. I know it’s no excuse but I am affected by religion and religious ppl everyday and sometimes I like to use twitter as an outlet to shout out how I really feel. I remind myself that I am NOT anti-theist or anti-religious person, but I AM anti-theism and anti-religion. Thanks

  18. Hmm, I think the point is that twitter is a microblogging service, not a debating or instant messaging forum. I’ve tried to make that the theme of my tweets on evolution and atheism. Write a pithy ‘microblog’ post that’s relevant.

    As a rule, I don’t seek out and engage theists on religion. It’s a good place to assure others that atheism is a normal response, that they’re not alone (there are a lot of atheists who *are* isolated and social media like this provides a connection). And I’ve seen people make the slow transition from doubt to atheism because its available.

  19. Qrys Bin Thynkn says:

    An enlightened atheist is sorta like an enlightened theist. Always in short supply, but grateful when you find them and talk to them.

    And yes, their are enlightened theist out there, and I consider myself an enlightened atheist (most of the time).

  20. jeremy miller says:

    Well said. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Twitter atheism is for me has been a silent way to vent and feel a sense of solidarity. I am a primary school teacher and every week our school (all schools) roll out the welcome mat to Christian fundamentalists while they spend half an hour brainwashing young minds in the name of education. I really struggle with this, but I’d much rather call them on their fallacies than insult them. Btw I actually do and say nothing, while they sprout stupidity ignorance and sometimes hate, except turn on the phone and get a laugh from atheistMel. It helps! Hey, I’m not a total pussy though, I just don’t wanna lose my job. Once I even fought a rooster armed only with a fitball… And a shotgun. Kidding. I didn’t have a shotgun. Haters and trolls get off on insulting people. That being said, anyone who calls bill O’Reilly a cunt is alright by me. Atheism itself is not really a group, it’s a left over collection of people that aren’t religious. Check out Sam Harris on you tube titled, the dangers of atheism. He explains this quite eloquently. You probably have already. Twitter rockstars or celebs are just lame. I had a follower once and the pressure got a bit much. I don’t think it was an actual person seemed like some market research group or something. Just for shits and giggles, check out the comedy of Alex ‘shooter williamson’ on you tube. It might be a little parochial for a Canadian chick but it’s worth it.

  21. TJ Mair says:

    I agree with you completely that this sort of obsequious behaviour is unsavoury, but I have not encountered it. Seriously, none of this is happening in my Twitter experience so far, or, at least, I’m not noticing it. Nonetheless, I agree with you that it is wrong, and I hope that people see this and that this kind of thing stops occurring.

  22. TheApostasyX says:

    Great post Mel.
    I hear you on the ASH issue, i’ve never been tempted to join myself. Though i was on one of their leader’s Atheist Superheroes list in the earlier days of AV,AJL.. groups. I never submitted to that, preferring my own individuality over a mask inside of a collective. But I don’t blame people, especially newcomers, for wanting to join such a group.
    In saying that, I do follow a lot of the ASH clan, there are some chilled individuals there I like. In spite of the comic book alter egos and being part of a twitter clique, some are meritorious in their own individuality.

    Qrys Bin Thynkn: I agree on that notion. For a short while, when I was new to twitter, I would attempt to engage a theist every time I was on. It didn’t take long for me to develop reservations in twitter debate: flurries of ad hominem attacks, strawmen arguments, etc.. even causing me to slip up and insult someone in retaliation. This experience led me to pick my battles more carefully. Namely: examining a theist’s own tweets to determine whether they’re a decent communicator before engaging them – and in doing so I have been surprised with some pleasant dialogue.

    I do still mock absurdities in scripture and the common logical fallacies with sarcasm and the occasional joke, and it only sometimes attracts nasty defendants. Mockery probably isn’t very tactful, but I feel it is the belief I am mocking, not the person, and this is important to me.
    A few of the better theists can engage that mockery calmly and even open up pleasant discussion in response, a few even have a good sense a humour. But If people decide to take the mockery personally, that is the point I will disengage and ignore as the word tennis that could ensue would make me look just as much a fool.

    (@dpskepdev)

  23. kittymewmew (@ergrieve) says:

    Hi Mel,

    Great post! I totally agree that Twitter has gotten a bit negative lately. I see this trend in atheism in general sadly. I went to a meet up last night with atheists, and a theist was kind enough to show up to answer our questions; he even paid for our drinks! In return he got a bit chewed up. There is a difference between intelligent discussion/debate and an outright personal attack. I feel like once both sides have stated their arguments it is futile to berate the opposing party, this will not change their viewpoint. In fact it may strengthen it–when people feel prosecuted, it strengthens their beliefs and causes them to attack more vehemently (sociologists have suggested this is also true on social media). I think the real way to undermine someone’s faith is to befriend them because they will no longer be able to view atheists as ‘other’ or ‘evil.’ Once their guard is down and they are not in argument mode, true reflection on the issues is possible.
    I think it’s fine to make a provocative comment about beliefs if no specific theist is singled out. Or it’s fine to mock as long as it’s not insulting. I try limit my mocking to celebs like Deepak Chopra or Ray Comfort because as public figures they should be used to criticism and then I’m sure I’m not hurting the feelings of some poor clueless teenager.

    I’m also starting to have a problem with the label atheist. I’m a non-believer, a skeptic, but this applies to more than just religion. Although religion may be the most toxic form of irrational thought, it is one of many mental traps humans are susceptible to. Pseudoscience, astrology, alternative med, conspiracy theories, superstition, even certain branches of philosophy–we always have to be wary and question everything. I’d rather be defined by what I am rather than what I am not. I am a critical thinker.

    There is a strong vein of anti-intellectualism in our culture that discourages learning and thinking for oneself–this needs to be combatted just as much as religion and the existence of God. Questions of free speech brought up on twitter are also extremely important discussions to be having.

    I’m on Twitter to find like-minded people. Sadly as someone highly interested in art, music and poetry as well as atheism I feel a bit like an oddball. I have this same problem in my everyday life. This is why I’m constantly tweeting Ricky Gervais. I have yet to encounter another living human being who has been successfully able to bridge the gap between atheism and the arts, so Ricky is a hero/role model for me, I don’t care about the fact he’s famous. I don’t expect a re-tweet (and I agree, it’s super annoying when ppl suck up to celebs to get Twitter-fame.) I just need to write to someone who I think may have even the slightest chance of understanding me, even if he doesn’t respond. I really hope I find other atheist/thinkers/artists. They must be out there somewhere.
    I enjoy reading what you have to say. Please keep writing and tweeting ❤

  24. Nick says:

    Robert Parker in one of his Spenser books once described talkback radio as “a forum for public masturbation” – and I often feel that epithet might apply to twitter (social media in general). Everyone’s too busy trying to get noticed to listen to each other and the signal to noise ratio is halving every day… yet it continues. We’re a puzzle aren’t we?

  25. Gabe says:

    I can’t believe you would write this! It makes so so…be you thought I was gonna say angry. 🙂
    Good article, well-crafted. We def. need the reminder. It’s so easy to slip into thos negative behaviors. Thanks for the effort.

    Best regards,

    Gabe
    aka @Matthiasbradfor

  26. As a theist who follows a lot of atheists on Twitter, I think you were my favourite atheist tweeter. People like yourself and MrOz are entertaining, but as I told you directly, you waste so much time arguing stupid shit with stupid people that it becomes painful, so I unfollow you. But you personally are much better than most, no doubt about that.

    Overall I prefer the approach of someone like PakistanAtheist who tweets informative snippets that look to make a higher point.

  27. Will Bellas says:

    I think your blog is really interesting. I am pretty new to twitter, and started to follow you when ( If I remember correctly) @GSpellchecker re-tweeted something of yours which I found really funny. I didn’t really have an agenda when I started to use Twitter frequently, I just follow what amuses me or what I have an interest in. I was unaware before of the antireligious tweeters, but some, yourself included, have continued to keep me interested in the banter with the faithful.
    I should let you know that I don’t believe in a god, I have my own set of beliefs which I’m happy with. And I’m also happy that everyone has their set of beliefs too ( I say happy, but I couldn’t really give a toss about anyone else’s beliefs. As long as they don’t affect me or anything I care about then you’re welcome to them).
    I wouldn’t normally reply to a blog of someone who I don’t know, but I feel ‘inspired’ by the way you dived into the firing line. I refer particularly to the ASH group that you’re concerned about and appears to be the reason for your angst. I think this group is something which you (as an informed supporter of evolution theory and sociology) should probably be expecting. As someone looking in from the outside It appears that it is ‘group polarisation’ that’s taking place within the atheist tweeter community. It’s what is to be expected as it’s an innate behaviour, but what we have as humans is the ‘higher intelligence’ (I have to wonder about this sometimes) to switch that behaviour off, which is what, as I read it, you are urging your fellow atheist tweeters to do.
    As for the “twitter celebrity” and “twitter elite” horseshit, you’ve got to laugh.
    Keep smiling. I will 🙂

  28. Katyanna Kelly says:

    Hi Mel,

    Loved your post and have to agree with most of what you said. I started following atheists on twitter shortly after my ‘light bulb’ moment. Having never been religious, but believing that some type of ‘higher power’ existed, this was truly a life changing moment for me.

    Lately, however, I have noticed what you have, the nastiness and eliteism over theists (and other atheists) and frankly the repitition of tweets and quoting of ones self which I find hilarious.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, it really does make a difference to those recently ‘out’.

  29. Joyce Jensen says:

    Not much new to add to what has been written above because I echo most of it. I am relatively new to Twitter, and quickly found the atheist community there a great source of comfort, enlightenment and courage. I have learned a lot and have been able to argue my atheist viewpoint a little more clearly and cohesively, but I know I have also at times veered into the elitist mindset and smug thinking. This blog entry has given me a great deal more to think about, and I thank you for that. I am glad you are back on Twitter because I sorely missed your sharp and funny posts. I look forward to continued good reading here, as well. Thanks for all you do and say!

  30. Peregrinusmmviii says:

    Melissa, my good friend, we may be each on the opposite side of the proverbial fence, but, I must say, I have always enjoyed our forays and discussions and, may I add; it’s joviality. And, at this point, I do wish to express my admiration and kind regards and to applaud your courageous stance in bringing this particular form of extremism to the fore.

    Atheism (twitter) like any other group or community have the right to hold their views and should be able to express them without hindrance or ridicule; respect to all, I say! Good honest and kind debate is good for all, good for society, good for humanity.

    I really and sincerely applaud your good efforts to bring these issues to the attention of all and wish you well. Thank you, my good friend, I look forward to many more discussions, after all, it’s what makes our world so special a place; being human and kind and in communication!

  31. Michelle Jensen says:

    My teenage son and I have only been following the atheist community here on twitter for 6 months or so, but you were one of the first people who really made good points that prompted questions and discussion in our household. I think your post is insightful and honest, not really more people can ask for than that. Well done.

    Michelle

  32. I was on twitter as a “spiritual” person for years though never one of those inspirational tweeters, more geeky and work related. Never got into religion on twitter till I set up a second account where people didn’t personally know me and by that time my spiritual path brought me to atheism.

    Point being, in any societal subset on Twitter there are the social media hounds. It’s not about connection, it is about followers because some make money from getting them to click on links, visit their website and click on affiliate links, or by ebooks, etc. my work timeline is full of them, some who were real people when I first followed them on twitter.

    This twitter account I stay away from auto tweeters, people who promote the same blog post over and over, and the like. My twitter feed is interesting, it’s the real me, the person I can’t completely reveal to my Facebook friends for sure, more than just atheism, their are child-free, cannabis using and atheists from all different walks of life. I love reading my twitter feed.

    I now am more comfortable coming out as an atheist. Every once in a while on Facebook I post an item on atheism or that it’s hug an atheist day (my sister hugged me that day). Most of my family know and close friends. I’m not in hiding anymore but also realize that there are people who will view me much differently when they know but so far those I’ve told have been responsive, some open about their own views.

    I hope that you continue to not give a shit about what some might think, an attitude I need to adapt more myself.

    Ellen

  33. steelsaviour says:

    Great post! Seth (Thinking Atheist) did a podcast last week that touched on the celebrity complex. He and JT Eberhard talked about how we sometimes feel that people like Dawkins, Harris, etc are above us because they have become popular or what have you. But in reality every single atheist is on the same page and equal to each other because we all share the same single belief. I noticed the same things too with ASH and unfollowed most all of them. I only held out for a couple who I had followed before they were part of that group. I cant remember who said it, but the thought was mentioned that factioning off in to little groups will only hurt our cause, look at what it did to Christianity. As atheists we need to be one collective, singular body. There is strength in numbers.

    Lastly Ill say this. When I deconverted and took to Twitter I was a fire baller and in your face. I would pick arguments and fights with anyone because I was so angry. In the 9 months to follow I have slowed down, and stopped the attacks because I saw that they were pointless. Rather, I resort now to having intelligent discussions and debates but on a civil level. i dont know if anyone has ever said this before but I feel that when we deconvert and become atheists we go through stages of our deconversion. I dont know what is next, but the angry fighting stage is over for me.

    Well done Mel!

    • You make a really interesting point re: deconversion… REALLY interesting. I think you might be right, because what you said really mirrors my own experience. I began on twitter like anyone else, responding in debates with anger and vitriol. But in time I too realized that was not only a completely ineffective method, but made me look bad! I still mock religion, and when theists tweet me first I often try to think of something funny to say back if intelligent debate seems unlikely. But I definitely relate to your point that there seems to be stages of atheism… many of us have gotten to the point where we see the value in calm, intelligent debate, and I hope the rest will get there eventually too!

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  34. steelsaviour says:

    Reblogged this on A man and his brain and commented:
    This young lady gave a lot of thought and time to this blog. She touches on some very valid points and for any Atheist on Twitter I highly recommend you read this!

  35. Tip Hillman says:

    Thanks for having the courage to write this, Mel. I agree, especially about the need to be more constructive and not abusive. We’re definitely better than that.

  36. I actually like the way twitter is, there is good, bad, cliques, strays, etc. just like real life. Some people you can talk rationally to, some you can’t. People also butt into conversations, just like RL, it is part of life. I wouldn’t want everyone to act the same just because they had common beliefs, I believe what I believe based on my knowledge and experiences just like I suspect others do. But if you are going to make ridiculous comments on a public forum you are going to be called out, just like RL, and sometimes ridicule begs for ridicule. I don’t believe there is or should be a code of ethics for atheists, it is not a religion or cult or exclusive group and if there are others who try to make it a religion, cult or exclusive group then they are deluding themselves just as much as any theist does that belongs to the previously stated. If someone is going to make such a major decision in their life as whether or not they believe in a religion or deity based on how others act and not on their own research then they are not really serious in the first place. There is good and bad in every aspect of the human race no matter who you are referring to…that is just life and twitter is made up of those in RL so why should it be any different.

  37. Pingback: Atheism and Twitter: A Look at My Experience With the Atheist Community | Musical Humanist

  38. Captain Atheist says:

    Quit being a bitch Mel, how many fucks do we give about you? A: zero. I’ve watched you and your retarded boyfriend “Mr Oz Atheist” play your elite twitter account act for a long time and your shit blog is the proof of elitism. A_S_H is becoming worldwide and you’ll miss the big party when we rule twitter.

    • hahaha. Thanks for the laugh 🙂

    • If you really are Captain Atheist, I have an honest question here: why would you want to “rule” and open forum for public discussion like Twitter? What would that entail? What benefits would you receive?

      Being part of a “worldwide” group where the uninitiated are left out at the end “party” — isn’t that what we atheists are trying to avoid? I’m glad you guys have found a community on Twitter, but you might take an extra minute or two to consider those who you are leaving out of the discussion, and why.

      • Captain Atheist says:

        Hello Lee, this is an easy answer for all curious persons sniffing around for answers about A_S_H. First of all you need to ask yourself why you’re being such pussy, this will answer your fucking questions.

  39. Captain Atheist says:

    On another note Mel A_S_H will continue to boycott all atheists who deny us our place in the atheist community. We also have started a list of cunts who bad mouth A_S_H and they will be dealt with in accordance of A_S_H law & regulations. You cannot delete my replies or you will be exposed as the fraud you really are. Have a nice day.

    • Did I make the cunt list? Did I did I did I???

      • Captain Atheist says:

        You did.

      • I wrote that I enjoyed the differences in people that twitter brings, but you sir are just wrong, I would appreciate it if you would add me to your “cunt list” not because I bad-mouthed A_S_H but because it would be on honor to have someone with your mentality dislike me, if there is a certain phrase I need to say please let me know and I will be happy to tweet, post, or shout it from the rooftop.

    • Jan says:

      Please can men make the list.

    • Anonymous says:

      You say you dont give a fuck about Mel and still you have her on your “list of cunts” ? that seems to me like you are giving fucks there.

  40. toadliquor says:

    I’ve had my own recent experience that somewhat parallels your own. I’ve also put it in blog form, because 140 characters doesn’t quite cut it for a proper ranting rebuttal… http://bit.ly/151LhVO @SlagOffTwits

  41. Finally got round to reading this!
    I didn’t think what you said would be capable of causing such an uproar…until I got down to the comments – Holy shit! 😮
    I’ve only been on twitter for a few months and I’m still mostly a voyeur but I like to think the people I follow are mostly decent and, if not, I’ll unfollow.
    Keep doing what you do, Mel 🙂

  42. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Though, I don’t really need to be entertained; informed will do.

  43. jelous joseph says:

    I not an atheist myself,but that is really one good text i have ever read!

  44. mito321 says:

    Nice post Mel, have recently started following you on Twitter and find you quite entertaining. You are probably also very informative, but to be frank I care more about entertainment. It is hard to get into any worthwhile discussion on Twitter. I was hoping to find a good Christian Blog where the writer is open to tough questions and is willing to engage without resorting to Ad Hominem . Will continue to look around as I enjoy talking to people with different viewpoints. Sometimes Atheists can be dull to talk to because too much agreement will kill a chat.

  45. omaexlibris says:

    Great post. You have really hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately it’s not just on Twitter but in all forums of social media that people are becoming more antagonistic and abusive, and also it’s becoming a sizeable minority. I have always been suspicious of any individuals or groups that try to set themselves apart and claim “elite” status, so I certainly will not be having anything to do with ASH or any similar groups. Atheism, to me, is about rejoicing in our individuality, celebrating the wonderful diversity of humanity while embracing each others commonality and differences, and most of all, trying to be the best possible human being while enjoying our lives without guilt, shackles or fear. Looking forward to reading many more interesting posts in the future. Thank you.

  46. I both agree and disagree at the same time. Sounds confusing but I don’t mean it to be. Certainly, like many others I have seen some be over the top, and like many I have been less than congenial to many theist. I definitely try not to start out harsh, just a comment or a question, but let me be clear I am not one to ‘turn the other cheek’. I came out in the early 60’s and have been in many face to face confrontations even fights because a theist brought that to me. If I see one being deeming, aggressive, whatever I will give that back in kind, on twitter and in real life. I don’t offer this as an excuse, but rather as an insight to who I am. Now having said that I don’t expect anyone to follow me if that offends them or they think its a wrong behavior, that’s fine, I am not an agnostic atheist to please anyone and I will not submit to any ones code of conduct except my own. Make no mistake Mel what you outline is a code of conduct you believe to be correct. It is perfectly fine for you to follow and apply as you wish to any one. As to ASH, I do follow a few and have had no problem with their posts, but certainly I am still wondering what the whole purpose of ASH might be.

    Let me mention a trend I have noticed that may account for some of the ‘nasty posting’ for lack of a better phrase. The trend I am referring to is those who claim to be atheist to be cool, piss off mom and dad, impress a girl/guy or their friends. Certainly, I will not question ones claim to being an atheist, but it does give me great pause, when I have seen some new atheists say ‘of course I haven’t read the bible, I’m atheist’. Now if you have come out like this perhaps you don’t have an argument other than to be harsh, argumentative, or insulting from the start and I don’t agree with this approach. I have no idea how one maintains their atheism without knowing as much as possible about the claim they say they reject, but that is my opinion only. In fact as you know this whole post is only my opinion, I am always open to discussion or criticism, of course that doesn’t mean I will change my opinions or beliefs.

  47. Great piece Mel. I have to freely admit that in the past I have been guilty of this, and I’ve realized after awhile that if someone had treated me this way when I was still a creationist, it wouldn’t have helped their cause, because it’s a total turn off to be talked down to. I now try to empathize with people who are stuck in the grasp of religion and try to use sound logic and reasoning rather than personal attacks in order to appeal to them.

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