Sunday, November 20, 2011

Burnout & Apathy: Symptoms of a Stagnate Movement

So we’ve been doing this for about 15 months now. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but I think back and realize just how much work we have put into this. Believe it or not it takes a lot of effort to run the damn thing, even with multiple people. Being a husband and father, working a full time job, and living something akin to a normal life are busy enough without adding in the dozens of hours I drop into this every week. These extra hours have taken the form of me not sleeping much and annoying people (i.e. the wife) by reading incessantly on my iPhone at inappropriate times. Anyway, I’m not here to complain about it. It has been worth it. However, there are two things that are leading us to re-evaluate the future of Left Hemispheres.

First is the burnout.

Second is “what is the end goal?”

As I alluded to above this takes a lot more effort than I realized. Quite frankly I am tired of reading about religion, atheism, Creationists, Dominionists, etc. all the time. It’s tiresome. It kind of took over my life for awhile. I have learned an insane amount of information in the past 1.25 years. I can’t decide if I learned more doing this or from grad school. Seriously. Anyway, the other evening on Twitter I had a brief conversation with Paul Fidalgo and Martin Pribble about this subject. They quickly wrote down their thoughts and posted My Atheism Will Not Save the World and Is the Atheist Movement Dead in the Water?, respectively. They discuss this burnout and coming to terms with the lack of direction in blogging and the movement in general. I should also point out that Adam was alluding to this a couple weeks ago in his post After Atheism. He said maybe ”New Atheism” is burning too hot to sustain itself. That sounds about right in many ways.

For example, what did I do after that Twitter conversation? I went out with friends and got entirely too drunk (still hungover 24 hours later...I’m getting old). I didn’t drink because of the conversation depressed me or anything. It just isn’t my first inclination to write down my thoughts anymore. I actually sometimes wince at the thought of it. That is a problem. A symptom of my growing apathy. This isn't a pity party for Ol’ Steve. Far from it. This is a blog for fuck’s sake. I started this to have a voice and for fun. Somewhere along the line I started to take myself too seriously and treat this as a job. That was a mistake. I am hoping that this realization is a turning point in the blog’s existence and these conversations about “what’s next?” are the next step in the movement. As Martin said about confronting the religious; after awhile it becomes “a disillusioning experience, with all the head-beating and knowledgeable posturing, the stubborn opposition plugging their ears and yelling “NUH-UH!!.” I second that statement. I told him I can only tear apart so many HuffPo Religion section articles. I’s just low hanging fruit, ya know?

So what’s next?

I haven’t the slightest clue.

OK, I think I have a clue. I think we need to focus more on becoming a positive movement and not get mired in the constant negative arguments against ignorance. It is the old “what are we vs. what we aren’t” trap. It’s too easy to get sucked in and before you know it all you do is argue against people that do not give a damn about thinking for themselves. I am just as guilty as the next atheist on that front and I still reserve that right for when it is called for, but it shouldn't be our focus. Screw debating people like William Lane Craig and those like him. There is no point. I also don’t care about juvenile billboards anymore. I once supported it and argued in its favor, but now I am not sure it’s worth our time. I get that it brings headlines, but is it positive? No. People argue that it may help some in-the-closet atheist see that there are others out there. Maybe. Or maybe that in-the-closet atheist sees it, sees the reaction it has on those theists around him and thinks twice about coming out. Maybe those signs really are a dick move. I don’t know. I don’t care. Maybe we need that. Maybe we need the dicks and we need the non-dicks. Different tactics affect different people. I just want to be a better person and make sure the lunatics don’t take over. Really. That’s all I care about. It is delusional to think we are going to rid the world of religion or irrational thinking in our lifetimes if at all. Hell, I’m still irrational. I am a Washington Redskins and Washington Nationals fan. These teams suck and yet every year I think it might get better (but the Nats are on the rise!). “Why yes I will spend money on merchandise for a team that is out out of the playoffs after ¼ of the season.”  I am a sucker.

I want to help build a sustainable movement. I don’t want to burn out and fade away in apathetic defeat. I guess I’ll have to get over my inherent disinclination to actually meet people in person and find some humanist group in my area. We need to start working towards a positive goal. We should stated by donating to Foundation Beyond Belief and other secular charities and organizations.I am a member of FBB and auto-donate every month and just donated again for admin cost. They are a “positive” and they need our help.

The other point of this post is what we are going to do with this here site. Well...some changes are coming. We have been talking for awhile now about ending some of the weekly features. If you frequent this site you probably noticed that the Sunday Morning Hate/Crazy has been sporadic recently. Well...we hate doing it. Really...we hate it. It’s depressing and 99% of the time its just some asshole preacher being a disgusting, hateful asshole preacher. It gets old.  Monday Morning Quotes and Mid-Week Rant are cool, but seems like work. We were going to to try and keep these up until the end of the year, but I don’t really see the point. These features are dead effective immediately. We still like doing Friday Link Dump so that is sticking around. I should note that we will still highlight and comment on/refute hateful crap if it seems appropriate and we’ll post rant-worthy videos, but it will be more at random and not at a set time. The hope is that without having to deal with a rigid timeline it will free us up to post more original content. We’ll see. I have no idea how this will shake out. Stick around and you’ll find out as we figure it out. Cheers.