June 24, 2014

The Atheist Community Isn't About Me

English: Goals Football pitches at Aulton
Football pitches at Aulton (Photo credit: Bill Harrison, Wikipedia)
I often share posts I have enjoyed from other atheist bloggers on social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr). When I remember to do so, I also like to share their content on StumbleUpon and Reddit. I do this because I want others to see it. It is one way I can contribute to the flood of material critical of religious belief we atheists have placed on the Internet, and it is a way to promote atheism.

When I encounter content I find interesting, relevant, or thought-provoking, I want to send some traffic to the person who wrote it. Maybe this will help to show them that they are appreciated and help convince them to keep writing great content. But most of all, I share the content of others because I realize that the atheist community, movement, or whatever you prefer to call it is a hell of a lot bigger than me.

On occasion, I am asked why I tweet posts written by others. "Why would you share something you didn't write?" I share it because I think it is worth being seen by others. Maybe it is far better than anything I could have written and it bugs me that the author doesn't have a much larger audience. Maybe I found something inspiring there and just want to promote it. Maybe I'm not sure what I think about it and want to see what others think.

I have been told that the only reason I share others' content is that I hope they will share mine in return or that I just want them to notice me. This simply isn't the case. I don't write Atheist Revolution or maintain various social media accounts solely because I want to promote myself. I reject the notion that I must have selfish motives to promote what others are doing.

I'm happy to be one of many voices, and I never want to lose sight of the fact that there are many other voices out there that deserve to be heard. I have little ego tied up in this; I am a mere speck in the online atheist community, and that is fine. I'd much rather contribute to secularism than make some sort of name for myself here.

Some will likely dismiss this as false modesty, but that's not what I'm aiming for here. This community isn't about me. Our goals, those shared by most of us (e.g., reducing the influence of superstition in policy decisions, disseminating accurate information about atheism, promoting skepticism and critical thinking), are far more important than any one of us.

We have no need for personality cults or atheistic tribalism. These are distractions from what is important, and we have much to do. I would hope that we'd all be suspicious of those who seem determined to make it all about them. They may have something besides our best interests in mind.

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