Friday, 3 August 2012

What I do and why I do it.

I started my twitter account ‘MrOzAtheist’ a little over a year ago because I found myself getting into a few arguments with theists on my everyday twitter account and my mentions (yes, apparently a ‘mentions’ is something you have now) filled with arguing.

I didn't want to overwhelm my regular account with atheist tweeting/debating but I didn't want to give it up either, so MrOzAtheist got created. I followed other atheists (the first few being MattDilahunty, MsPraxis, RosaRubicondior, Monicks, GodlessAtheist, UTBrainstorm, Secular_Oz, kaimatai, and ReneeHendricks all of whom I still follow) and quickly found I enjoyed reading their tweets;  learning a lot from the things they were saying and the links they were providing. It was helping me grow and become more comfortable as an atheist.

Looking through twitter for the words ‘atheist’ and ‘atheists’ not only lead me to fellow atheists and the things they were saying but also exposed me to things theists were saying or asking about atheists. I had no idea they were so concerned about us. Sometimes the questions or statements were genuine, but often they were ridiculous (No atheists in foxholes, do atheists have to swear on the bible, can atheists get insurance for acts of god, being three of the most common examples of the latter).

I did and still enjoy answering the genuine questions. I’ve encountered many theists that have had limited or no exposure to atheists and their understanding of what being an atheist reflects this. They think all sorts of things about us that just aren’t true so sometimes I try to help. It can be quite rewarding to have a theist reply with something like ‘oh, I didn’t know that, thanks for letting me know’. Yes, it does happen.

For the more nonsensical or asinine tweets I use a style of answering these by quoting the original tweet and adding “//” before writing my reply.

“@twitterTheist When atheists go to court do they have to swear on the bible” // Yes, but we have to wear a fire proof glove.  

Their part being before the // and mine being after. These are what I call my smart arse tweets. I do this when the question is probably not genuine and certainly not original. I do this to have a bit of light-hearted fun. It amuses me, if but for a moment. That it seems to amuse others occasionally is a bonus and something I enjoy experiencing.

Then, of course, there are the genuine replies to theists. The ones where a theist will make a claim about atheists, it’s clearly wrong, and I question them or correct them. These responses lead to a kind of debating doesn’t really lead anywhere. Neither party is going to walk away with their mind changed. So why do it? Because I think it’s important to let theists know that atheists DO speak back. That we don’t just sit here and take rubbish being thrown at us. Sure I’m not going to convince these people that they’re wrong, that’s not the point. I want them to learn that atheists stand up for themselves. I want them to walk away knowing that atheists aren’t a group that you can slander without questioning. I want them to learn that if you say dumb things about atheists on the internet, you will receive replies, and many of them. I tweet to them to get this message out.

Lastly and maybe most importantly I tweet the way I do because not all atheists can. Not all atheists live in countries where being an atheist is acceptable. Not all atheists live in communities where being an atheist is acceptable. Not all atheists live in a family where being an atheist is acceptable. As I said in one of my more popular tweets – “I wish theists would understand that atheists are not vocal just to argue with them, we're vocal so other atheists know they're not alone.” It is a wonderful by-product of what I do that other atheists appreciate it. There is what I think of as an atheist community on twitter and I very much enjoy being part of it, I like feeling included and I like feeling that I'm making a contribution, even if is a small one. I feel that the more atheism is accepted somewhere, the more likely it will be accepted everywhere.

It’s a wonderful thing to be told that my words are enjoyed or that I’m inspiring, or that I say the things they wish they could say. To know that what I do means something to people and helps people gives me the confidence to keep going and gives me the hope that maybe the atheist point of view is getting somewhere. I feel proud that I help people, even if it is something small at 140 characters and time, and I hope to keep doing it. Realising you’re an atheist, especially if you’re in a religious family, is not always an easy thing to deal with. Knowing that my words have helped with this is great. Probably the most significant moment I had was when someone told me I am the reason they are now an atheist. Of course not the sole reason, the doubts and questions obviously had existed for quite some time, but talking to me gave her the ‘final nudge to the non-believer side’. 

That is why I do what I do.


  1. This was truly enjoyable and inspirational as well. Caught you being your typical self. Its nice to know why you do what you do.

    Thinking Beauty

    1. Sorry for taking so long to reply, I only just saw your comment was here. Thank you so much for the kind words :)

  2. I always appreciate your tweets and almost always agree with them. Your words and arguments are more well stated than mine so I now find myself using them in debates! Thank you!