AtheistRev had an interesting post and while I did respond to it there, I thought I’d talk a little bit more about the problems of being in the atheist “community” and being generally bored to tears with it. vjack was responding to a post over on Atheism and the City on boredom, but to be honest, I really don’t agree, I get bored with atheism constantly. Here’s why.
One of the problems with being an atheist, we don’t get monthly notices that we’ve liberated another country, or even a city or small town, from the ravages of religion. Very little ever changes, it’s the same old thing, day after day, week after week and month after month. I agree with vjack that the reason so many atheist blogs focus on the absurd nonsense that goes on in groups like Atheism+ is because it’s a break in the monotony of secularism.
It isn’t fun to debate theists, especially if you’ve been doing it for as long as I have. It isn’t like the debates that we have today are fundamentally different than the debates that we had last week or last year or any time in the last decade. I guess that’s no surprise, after all, it isn’t like there are new discoveries being made in the field of Christian theology, there isn’t any grand philosophical research being done at the National Muslim University, they all have the same beliefs they had a century ago and the arguments largely haven’t changed, they’ve just gotten more refined. Unfortunately for them, refined nonsense is still nonsense and because we all know that theists don’t operate rationally, debating one isn’t going to be a satisfying experience, it is very rare and extremely far between that we’ll ever see a theist who can give us a run for our money or even make us break a sweat and since they refuse to change their arguments even when proven completely and laughably wrong, there’s no real sense of satisfaction in winning these debates. Even the big hitters of Christian apologetics like William Lane Craig or Dinesh D’Souza just leave me shaking my head at their utter stupidity and lack of critical thinking skills. How these people impress anyone is beyond me.
So theists are out, trumped up controversy is out, what about atheist blogs and podcasts? To be honest, most of them are the same recycled topics over and over again. For as massive as the Internet is, the content is actually quite limited. That’s not the fault of the Internet, it’s the fault of the subject matter. There just isn’t that much to talk about with regard to atheism. We’ve done all of the common apologetic arguments to death. We’ve talked about morality until our eyes bled. We’ve examined science at virtually every imaginable resolution, the only real activity we see is when there’s a rare new discovery and that quickly fades. We’ve torn apart the Bible, the Qu’ran, the Vedas, the Book of Mormon, Dianetics and every other religious books we can lay our hands on. There just isn’t anything all that new under the sun. There’s a reason why I, as an atheist, am not an activist, I’m perfectly happy to see atheism go the way of the dinosaur once we eliminate religious influence from the planet. I really don’t care to join the atheist fan club and hang around with people just because they’re non-religious, I only want to hang around with people who are actually good people that I have real, existing interests in common with.
What makes up my atheist day? I spend about a half hour in the morning checking for comments on my own blogs, looking through a couple of religious and/or political forums and visiting a half-dozen or so atheist blogs. That’s it. That’s all I do. I may write a handful of posts or comments, depending on what’s going on, but likewise, I may go several days and never post a thing, it all depends on what’s up. The rest of the day, I’m not really interested in what’s going on in the atheosphere. Invariably, it’s no different than what I saw in the morning, or the day before, or the day before that. Boring, boring, boring, and not the fault of the bloggers, but because the subject matter just isn’t that exciting.
The same goes for all the other hobbies I have. Not much ever changes there either. It’s the same discussions as yesterday, the same stories as last week, nothing new ever happens. I try, from time to time, to spice things up, find new forums, find new blogs and podcasts and videos, but invariably, after a couple of weeks, that new-site smell wears off and I realize that they’re talking about the same things, with the same results, as any of the places I’ve hung my hat for years. There isn’t a “better place”, there’s only a “different place”.
Now maybe The Thinker over at Atheism and the City has a different experience, he says that the wealth of information online means he’ll never be bored, but for me, not only is it utter information overload, but as with most things, 90% of everything on the Internet is crap and just finding the really good stuff is really pretty difficult. I find the majority of trending and new hotness to invariably be garbage, no matter how many hits it gets on YouTube. It’s not interesting, at best it’s a temporary distraction and we go back to having little or nothing really cool to do. So yes, I get bored. I get bored a lot. What do I do to stop my boredom? I write. A lot. I write an absurd amount. The result are my blogs and many other things that people don’t get to see out there in Internet-land. I crank out short stories and full length novels. I write books on atheism. I do fiction and non-fiction, most of which will never see the light of day because it was never written with publication in mind. I do it because that’s what I do, it’s what I’ve always done and I’m good at it. Maybe someday I’ll land a publishing contract and I’ll release a dozen books at the same time because I’ve had them laying around for years. Who knows.
I really do encourage people not to pretend that the Internet is a panacea for entertainment. It suffers from the same problems that every other entertainment medium does, virtually all of it is crap and finding the non-crap is difficult and time consuming and, in and of itself, boring. The best thing to do when you’re bored isn’t to look to someone else to entertain you, it’s to turn to yourself for entertainment, after all, you certainly know what you enjoy doing, who better to provide that fun?