Friday, 13 July 2012

Trolling for atheists

Each person’s twitter is their own and I’m not about to tell someone what they should and shouldn't do with their own twitter account.

But that does not mean I cannot question it, or that I need to understand it. Trolling for atheists is  one such thing that I do not understand. To get online, tweet deliberately inflammatory statements just to elicit reactions that you know will come your way. To then argue for a random period of time, only to then admit the ruse our simply fade away back to twitter obscurity – except for the tweets to friends and followers detailing what you’ve *achieved* so they can join you in mocking the ‘stupid atheists’.

The thing the trolls or “Poes” seem to fail to understand is that for every one of them there’s numerous people that ACTUALLY believe the things they’re saying. Sometimes they’re easy to detect with a quick glance at previous tweets – if someone’s timeline consists almost exclusively of Pok√©mon tweets and then there’s a ‘watch this’ followed by ‘Hitler did what he did because he’s an atheist and atheists are evil’ then chances are that’s probably not a legitimate tweet. But there are other’s that a less easy to distinguish (in the past I was not good at spotting them so I’ll take a moment to thank those that help me out by letting me know I’ve engage with a known troll/Poe. I am improving.).

At the extreme end are the accounts that are consistent; they don’t break character and persist with their claims for god and denunciations of atheists ad nauseam. They are essentially indistinguishable from genuine accounts and clearly the person or people behind them has seen fit, for reasons I’m unable to fathom, to dedicate a lot of time to the cause.
But shy of the extreme accounts we have people pretending to be people they’re not, simply, it seems, to waste the time of other people. Sometimes it’s even fellow atheists at the helm of the account. Perhaps they don’t like the way atheists are sanctimonious or arrogant or angry or whatever other negative stereotype seems to fit and they feel they have some duty to mess with people so they can somehow feel superior about themselves. Of course this is speculation, as previously stated, the motivation for such immature behaviour is beyond me.

I will say that I wish it didn’t happen, and not just because it wastes my time, but it wastes the time of others too. I don’t see the value in it. I don’t see how someone thinks this is a worthy contribution to anything. But I won’t go so far as to tell someone to stop. As I said at the opening, each person’s twitter is to do with what they please, and that includes being a time wasting dick.

What I will say though is if you engage in this behaviour and you do manage to spark some reaction, don’t feel like you’ve achieved something. Pretending to be an ignorant theist is easy. There are lots of them with their bizarre ideas and strange notions about the world in general and atheists in particular. Blending in with them is simple, it’s not an *achievement*. Pretending to be a believer having a go at atheists isn’t pulling off a great swindle. You haven’t orchestrated a sting that’s going to see you collect millions. You haven’t infiltrated a high security building and walked away with the information that will bring down a government. What you have done is pretended to be an idiot. 

So do it if you wish, but just know you’re nothing special.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Atheists are just as bad as believers....

‘Atheists are just as bad as the believers’. I hear this a lot. Apparently there’s a lot of people out there that feel what atheists do is just as bad as what the fundamentalists do. Usually fundamentalist Christians – at least that’s what I encounter.

The only fundamental here is the fundamental difference between the two groups. Christian fundamentalism is an offensive position. Although this could be in either sense of the word, I actually mean like in a sporting or battle sense. Christians are proactive. They will seek out people to speak to and hopefully – for them at least, convert. They’re the ones out influencing government policy in their favour, they’re the ones trying to get non-science taught as science in school, they are the ones that are consistently trying to legislate what a woman can and can’t do with her uterus, they are the ones campaigning against marriage equality. Essentially the religious side are the ones telling society that society should live by their rules – often to end up in hell if they don’t. And all this stems from an invalid base. These people are doing all this based on the words of an unsubstantiated, ancient, superstitious book.

Of course I’m taking a generalised view. I’m not, at all, saying that all Christians or theists are like those described above. But these ARE the kinds of people thought of when the ‘atheists are just as bad’ sentence is uttered.

Counter to this, the vocal atheist position is a defensive one. It’s reactive to what the Christians (usually - in the West at least) are doing. Atheists don’t seek out neutral people with the idea of ‘converting’ them to atheism. Yes, there are atheists trying to influence government, but these positions are based on secularism, and asking for a government that shows fairness to all. Vocal atheism is about standing up for equal rights. It’s saying ‘Your beliefs shouldn’t give you’re the right to discriminate, oppress, or negatively impact on the lives of others’. Simply put – If atheists shut up, we’ll still hear from theists. If theists shut up, they’ll stop hearing from atheists.

Basically atheists (as secularists) want a society that is free from religious based discrimination and oppression, not a society that enables it. This is the difference.