November 15, 2017

Has Atheist Blogging Peaked?

end of the road

There has been some discussion lately on a few other blogs I read and across various social media platforms about the decline of atheist-oriented blogging. When I say "decline," I am not referring to a decline in quality but a decline in the number of atheist-oriented blogs and in the number of people interested in reading atheist-oriented blogs. I have no data to support this, but it does seem to me that the level of interest in reading blog posts might not be what it once was. I'd point to the combination of social media and YouTube as the primary culprits, but that's just a guess.

Focusing on the atheist-oriented blogs for a moment, I've seen some interesting changes since I started Atheist Revolution in 2005. At that time, there were really only a handful of active atheist-oriented blogs. Within just a few years, the number of atheist-oriented blogs skyrocketed. At their peak, there were several hundred. It was impossible to keep up with them all. Since then, there has been a decline in the number of active atheist-oriented blogs. Whenever I get around to updating my blogroll, I marvel at how few are left. And it isn't like new ones are popping up to replace them.

I think there are many good reasons for the decline in the number of atheist-oriented blogs (e.g., atheism becomes boring over time, infighting leads to an exodus of reasonable voices); however, I am reluctant to make too much of the reasons that are specific to atheism. I suspect that this decline is not limited to atheist-oriented blogs but may apply to blogs in general. That is, I suspect that the popularity of the blog as a medium has peaked. If that's the case, then it shouldn't be any surprise that atheist-oriented blogs would be in decline too.

I spend far less time reading atheist blogs (or any other type of blogs) these days than I used to. For me, it isn't that I find social media or YouTube more appealing; I still have a strong preference for blogs over these alternatives. I think there are at least three reasons I spend less time reading atheist blogs these days. First, there are far fewer options than there used to be. With more limited options, it is only natural that reading them would take less time. Second, I've made a deliberate effort to reduce the amount of time I spend online interacting with atheist-oriented content in order to give myself more time to do other things. As it has become less of a priority for me, I've reduced the time I devote to it. Third, I feel like much of the content I encounter on atheist blogs has become somewhat repetitive. Reading the same thing over and over again provokes little thought, and that's typically what I'm after.

In sum, I think atheist blogging has likely peaked, and I suspect that the primary reason for this is that blogging in general has peaked. I'd also guess that there may be things about us as individual readers, as atheists, as atheist bloggers - or even things about atheism itself - that make it difficult to sustain an active atheist-oriented blogosphere over time.