18 July 2008
Atheist Nexus, a brand-spankin'-new social networking site for us freethinking heathens, has been doing a brisk business as of late. What I mean by that is that atheists have been joining at a mind-boggling pace. Okay, 'mind-boggling' might be too strong a word. It's all relative to expectation, I suppose. Had you asked me how well a social networking site for atheists would do, I don't think I would have had an answer. Through frequenting a handful of atheist blogs, I could never really tell if atheists wanted to form a community, or if they wanted to stay as far away from each other as possible. It's the whole 'herding cats' phenomenon that I speak of.
The success of Atheist Nexus, though, tells me there is a need for this sort of thing, and while some atheists may pooh-pooh the whole concept--being the rebels that they are--I think it serves a very important roll. If you peruse through the profiles, you will find a lot of I'm the only one that I know of, or stories of feeling the need to lay low, be quiet about their atheism, the fear of losing one's job. I myself was shocked to find someone in my very own small town just yesterday. It wasn't that I was surprised that there were other atheists here (we're a college town, full of professors), but to make contact with one that felt strongly enough about his own atheism that he would sign up for a site like Atheist Nexus--that was something, that was different. Suddenly, the world of atheism got a little smaller. I almost had an only gay-in-the-village-moment.
So, now we have a hub where we can all meet, get to know one another, trade recipes and skills, make contact, congregate--and when that happens, who knows what activism will branch off and grow outwards, sticking in the eyes of the larger world. Again, this will be pooh-poohed by those who feel that being a social pariah, being different from the mainstream, is somehow synonymous with being an atheist. Those people can enjoy the time they spend in their parents' basements, hating the world. When we who recognize the value of community succeed in making the world friendlier for atheists, they can either thank us, or they can go find another reason to alienate themselves from society.