I love reddit. I’m addicted to reddit. It’s one of the first sites I check in the morning and throughout the day. It has a lot of really amazing communities on there with great and helpful people. That said, r/atheism is a pile of shit.
I’ve previously defended r/atheism as a necessary community, despite all that goes on there. It’s important for a minority to have a “minority space” apart from the general public space where they can exist freely. Think of it as a sanctuary. (Pun intended) Other people on reddit might lament r/atheism’s prominence, but reddit is not a mirror of American society where atheists are in the minority.
Despite the need for a place like r/atheism, that place is still shit. Long ago I unsubscribed as it was nothing but memes and people posting “facebook pwnage” wherein they post pictures of them alienating and offending their religious friends. Thoughtful discussion is nowhere to be found. Just anger, obnoxious pictures, and circle-jerk cheer-leading.
I made the mistake of going on there and asking a research question for my book. I wanted to see what other atheists were interested in when they began to be interested in religion and atheism. I was trying to better focus on my audicence and what I should cover in the book.
Instead my post was instantly downvoted into the ground. If you don’t go on reddit, there are “upvotes” and “downvotes.” People are supposed to use upvotes to signal that they think something is a good submission, regardless if they agree or not, and downvotes to signal that they think something is a poor submission. In reality people just use it as an agree/disagree button. You might type up a well reasoned response to something, but people will still downvote you if they disagree. There’s often a brutish tribal aspect to it that we refer to “the hive mind.”
I thought perhaps someone had set up a downvote bot against my account (something that automatically downvotes everything you post) so I erased my original post and posted again under another account. That got downvoted into the ground too and someone asked me
“why do you keep posting these fucking stupid questions then deleting them?”
To which I responded about the downvote bot. I got in reply
“no, you fuck.
you keep ignoring everyone’s answers to you and you keep trying to frame atheism as a ‘belief’ similar to religion.
your motives are transparent, you keep on putting forth ‘research’ questions that frame atheism as a belief system then you ignore the answers except to try and argue that atheism is a belief system like religion.
you are amongst sharp people here. stop acting the fool.”
Nobody had answered my question yet and I was automatically assumed to be some theist troll. The poster instantly displayed his/her insecurity by prescribing me with intentions that had nothing to do with my post. If I didn’t follow the hive mind and just post stupid pictures, I was seen to be a troll and a threat to be harassed.
Seriously, fuck that place.
UPDATE: So apparently myself and 32,000 other people also said fuck that place and there’s a subreddit r/trueatheism. The people there are really nice and interested in actually having discussions as opposed to means and circle-jerk bullshit.