October 4, 2016

Maintaining an Atheist Blog Over Time

Blogs do not last forever, and atheist blogs are no exception. In fact, the blog "I am an Atheist and this is why" closed last month. And in that same month, both Cephus (Bitchspot) and I announced that we were slowing down (maybe in his case and hopefully in mine). It wasn't that long ago that I closed an atheist blog myself.

When it comes to maintaining an atheist blog over the long haul, there are at least a few predictable challenges to anticipate. First, one inevitably tires of writing about atheism. Second, one inevitably becomes frustrated at some aspect of what one sees from others (e.g., trolling, anti-intellectualism, prideful ignorance). Third, one's interests and/or priorities change so that maintaining an atheist blog seems less important than it once did.

I have experienced all of these and more over the life of Atheist Revolution. I'm still here because I've found ways around most of these obstacles. I'll share what has worked for me, but since these things impact all of us in different ways, there is no guarantee that you'll find any of it helpful. If you've found other challenges or other solutions, I hope you'll share them in the comments.

First up, let's tackle the subject of getting tired of writing about atheism. Atheism is an awfully narrow topic, and I made a point of not being confined by it long ago. The best antidote I've found to tiring of writing about atheism all the time is not to write about atheism all the time. If you are an atheist blogger writing an atheist blog, you might feel like you have to write about atheism all the time. Don't. Sure, some will complain when you delve into other topics. Let them. The rest of us enjoy reading what you think about other topics from time-to-time. At least, I certainly do.

The only way I can imagine keeping an active atheist blog focused on atheism over the years would be to run it as sort of a news site where one mostly re-packages news items that have something to do with atheism and closely related subjects. Essentially, one takes a news story with relevance to atheism, summarizes it, quotes from it, and tacks on one's opinion of it at the end. Many atheist blogs do this. Most of us have probably written at least a few posts like this. The problem is that with so many large atheist blogs doing this you'll have lots of competition if you go this route.

How about the challenge of becoming frustrated with various aspects of others' behavior? I suspect we can all relate to this. When one expends considerable effort and does not feel like it is leading anywhere positive, it is understandable that one might consider giving up. I've never approached blogging with the idea that I was going to de-convert religious believers or that my efforts would somehow lead to a new era of Enlightenment. I've been content to be one of many voices in support of reason, critical thinking, skepticism, atheism, and freethought. I certainly do get frustrated with much of what I see from others, including other atheists; however, I'm not interested in controlling the behavior of others or attempting to punish them for perceived transgressions from my preferences. I'm generally content to give others the space to be themselves even when they make different choices from those I make for myself.

I'm sure I've said this before, but I'll pick on politics as a brief example of what I mean here. I do not want to see Donald Trump elected president, and I will not be voting for him. And yet, I have zero interest in demonizing his supporters or trying to reduce my chances of coming in contact with them online or anywhere else. I recognize that most of them are people with whom I disagree and not anything more sinister than that. I suppose I could consider myself a failure because there are people out there who support Trump, but that would make little sense. I'm not responsible for the decisions others make.

And yes, everything I just said is true when it comes to religious believers too. I have no problem with someone who believes in gods until he or she attempts to take away my rights, violate the law, or involve me in his or her belief system against my will. I'm happy to see the good in any religious believer who manages to avoid these things. The fact that we disagree on some things does not make either of us morally superior or inferior.

I saved the most difficult for last. If there is something that eventually leads me to walk away from atheist blogging, it will almost certainly be that my interests and/or priorities change to the point where I can no longer justify the effort. Blogging is work, and I cannot imagine doing it if I reached the point where I really didn't give a damn about what I was writing. I'm not sure how much control I or anyone else has over this one, and that is what makes it so tough.

There have been a number of things in which I was once very interested that hold little appeal today, and there are others that I never appreciated but now find myself enjoying. I can't say any of these changes have been deliberate on my part. And so, I could imagine a day when I'll have little interest in writing an atheist blog.

The main ways I've avoided this so far have involved being able to recognizing waning interest and then taking breaks from blogging and writing about topics that have little to do with atheism. Both have been helpful. When I step away from atheism for awhile, I usually seem to come back because I find something else I want to say on the subject or something I've said before but want to say differently. I don't doubt I'll eventually reach the point where this stops working and I feel like I've said everything I want to say. When I do, the decision to stop will be an obvious one. But until then, these are some of the things that have helped me along the way.
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