I started blogging a few years ago because I thought I had something to say about the current state of atheism and skepticism. I hadn’t been online very long, the previous year I had created a Twitter account and started finding a large number of atheists and skeptics out there and believed I could add to the conversation, not just in 140 characters but in the blogosphere, which I had zero experience.
There was a lot of controversy in the online atheist world at the time. I kept seeing atheists attacking other atheists simply because there were what seemed to me as silly disagreements on what atheism should be. I jumped into the mix, first on Twitter, and later here because I believed that people were be disparaged simply for not wanting to become part of some groupthink that some prominent bloggers(at the time) were advocating. It became a if you’re not with us, you’re against us confrontation.
I wanted to be heard but I didn’t want this space to be just abut drama. What I discovered was something that surprised me to an extent. I found that whenever I blogged about controversy in atheism, I ended up with a lot of views on those particular posts. When I published something fairly anodyne, few were interested.
So I replicated this experiment several times: drama one day, something more generic the next and whenever I blogged conflict, I’d notice the next day my views would be 100-300. Not a lot, but for someone that is unknown in online atheism, not bad. When I blogged otherwise, I might get 20-30 views. People were really interested in the daily online drama permeating atheism.
There was never a lack of topics to write about, the anger from a certain group of bloggers was inexhaustible it seemed. They attacked anyone that disagreed, even banning disagreement from their blogs (their right of course), but all of it just seemed to stoke the resentment on both sides of any disagreement.
After a while though, it became exhausting. I knew every day I would find something provocative to write about. I got to the point where I considered some of these people were attacking others for the clicks on their blogs. None of the constant vitriol made sense to me anymore. No matter how loud or obnoxious certain people became, no matter how much I, or any others for that matter, wrote about how ridiculous all of this was, it wasn’t going to change anything.
I actually left Twitter, and this blog, for almost 2 years. I was just tired of it all. I was perfectly content before going online and I just wanted that back.
It was a nice break and when I decided to restart this blog, I thought I would try to stay away from drama as much as possible. I reactivated my Twitter account around the same time, but I follow far fewer than I did in the past. I’m just not interested in conflict within atheism anymore. When I see it, I will of course comment on it sooner or later, but it’s not something I hope to see everyday. Has the amount of conflict dissipated? I don’t know but that I see very little anymore gives me hope that some of these people I referred to just went away. They’d alienated a huge segment of atheists and although they have a right to speak as they want, it just appears to me that no one’s listening to them anymore. Or very few.
Do I miss the drama of online atheism. No, I don’t. Have atheists in general just become exhausted with all of it or has there been some sort of cease-fire? I don’t know.
Hopefully, we just became a bit more sophisticated online than we were 5 or 6 years ago. The baiters can’t reel us in with their nonsense as much as they did back then.