Is Twitter Still Viable for Atheists Seeking an Online Community?

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I'm trying to think back to 2008 when I joined Twitter or even to 2010 when I began to understand how it worked. Did it offer a sense of community at that time? If so, what happened to it?

The main reason I started using Twitter was to do something I couldn't do offline. I wanted to interact with other atheists. I wanted to talk to people who might understand some of what I was going through. I wanted a place to be myself. I didn't have that offline, so I went looking for it online.

For a time, I found what I was looking for. I enjoyed Twitter for at least a few years. I was never an excessive user. I never had trouble logging off, and I never used it at work. I don't recall ever looking forward to using it, but I did enjoy it when I used it. It was nice to meet other atheists and experience a fleeting sense of normalcy. I wasn't alone. There were others like me.

I appreciated how Twitter could put me in touch with people in remote countries I'd never visit. It was encouraging to hear that there were places without so much religion. If they did it, couldn't we figure out how to do it too?

Twitter helped me discover thought-provoking content I would have otherwise missed. Twitter interactions inspired countless blog posts. That was valuable.

Somewhere along the way, Twitter began to lose its magic. The interactions became less frequent and less interesting. The people I'd enjoyed interacting with seemed quieter and harder to find. The people who did interact with me weren't always worth interacting with.

Memes had replaced meaningful interaction. It seemed like people were lobbing grenades in a desperate effort to gain attention. It wasn't working. Everybody was broadcasting, but few were listening. Even fewer were responding.

There are always exceptions, and they sustained me for a bit longer. I found myself following fewer people are being more careful about how I vetted those I followed. When Trump's first term started, I found that my feed was full of "resistance" stuff. Everything else had been squeezed out. I added mute filters as fast as I could.

It wasn't that I wanted to ignore politics. It was that I didn't find the outrage politics that had taken over Twitter to be worthwhile. It wasn't news. Much of it wasn't even opinion. It was hate, and I wasn't interested.

In reevaluating Twitter, I concluded that it was little more than a broadcast medium. Anyone who had anything to say belched it out there. Most ignored it. They were too busy pushing out whatever they had to say. Everybody was talking past each other.

I kept up my broadcasting and pulled back from most of the rest of it. The sense of community I once had was gone. And yes, this all took place long before Twitter's change in ownership.

At the time I'm writing this, Twitter is still somewhat effective for broadcasting. Roughly 20,000 people are following me, and a few will interact with some of what I tweet. It isn't as effective as it once was, but it might be better than nothing.

The biggest change has been the amount and type of interaction. Many of the people I follow are atheists, and many of the people who follow me are atheists. I'd still have a hard time saying that I was part of any sort of atheist community on Twitter. It no longer feels that way to me.

I hope your experience has been more positive. If you value online community of any sort, I hope you've found it on Twitter or elsewhere. Interacting with like-minded people is important, especially for those with few opportunities offline.

Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay