Twitter Cliques and the Atheist Arse-Kiss
Arse-kissing is not a recent phenomenon. It has probably been used since the dinosaurs roamed the earth (how else would a T-Rex convince anyone to help scratch himself, with those teeeeeny little arms of his?) and I don’t see it disappearing any time soon. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t annoy me.
Recently on Twitter (I’m @fearblandness - hey, this is my article, I can shamelessly promote myself if I want) I’ve noticed an uprising in self-congratulatory and suck up atheists — and it’s making me vomit in my mouth a little bit. I don’t know what the situation is like on other social media sites as I don’t frequent them as often as Twitter, but I can imagine that it’s not specific to atheists on Twitter alone. To clarify, here’s an example of the kind of embarrassing and cringe worthy messages that are sent throughout the atheist network:
‘Follow this gorgeous atheist @insertnamehere, she’s so inspirational!’
These tweets are then followed by replies (‘Aww thanks! No YOU’RE the best!’) and so on and so forth, circling until they both pass out from too much validation.
You might think I’m being a jealous grumpy pants because I’m not part of their little club. I can assure you this isn’t the case. I’m only concerned that it’s making atheists on Twitter look clique-y and immature. You could accuse me of being the latter as I tweet about bodily functions a lot, but I never claim to represent a group. Sure, I participate in a lot of atheist-related activities, I write, vlog, and podcast about atheist subjects, but it doesn’t define who I am. This increase in outspoken atheists on the internet is fantastic, as it makes people feel like part of a community. It only becomes a problem if it gets to a stage where we’re actually congratulating others and ourselves for not believing in an all-powerful sky daddy. This cycle of mutual back-patting and high-fiving makes the atheist community look smug, which is a criticism we encounter all too often. Why are we feeding this perception?
Obviously I’m in no position to dictate what you should do on your social media accounts (well, not until I’m grand ruler of the Atheist Alliance International), but I think it’s important to be wary of hypocrisy. We often joke about religion just being a club or group of people who believe in the same crazy idea. Religion is very clique-based. There are certain religion symbols people may wear such as cross necklaces, or Jewish kippahs, and although atheists don’t have any defining dress codes or symbols, I think we can pride ourselves on including and welcoming anyone from any walk of life. This concept is jeopardised when we form little separate clubs, especially those that need ‘permission’ to join. I know when I see atheists on Twitter congratulating each other for being atheists, I roll my eyes and make a mental note not to talk to them. I imagine those wanting to leave their supernatural beliefs or religion behind and find fellow atheists online will either cringe or feel intimidated.
I understand that we are social creatures and seek validation wherever we can find it. Why else would we want followers on Twitter? I NEED someone to validate my lunch choice, or what shenanigans my cat is up to. However, I think as atheists, we need to be aware of how we’re perceived by others. ‘Smug arse-kissers’ is not a good look.
[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by hoshiwa]