**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.