I normally don't post commentary here as I try to stay neutral and behind the scenes. I have several goals in building this community - one of which is to help bridge the growing divide in society. My thought was if I could raise the view of non-believers in the eyes of religious people, it could help them humanize what they may perceived as bad people. That was one of my motivations in adding Humanism text here... to give us a shared vocabulary of "goodness".
As I expected, almost everyone who joined here was a good person who wanted to make the community a better place. However, I became disappointed in the way that the majority of members (who were left-leaning) treated the minority who are conservative in positions unrelated to religion. Before you say, "oh, they started it", please remember, I'm not picking sides but only observing that contempt is a dangerous thing - especially in groups of people. Many of our conservative non-believers have left in the last few months.
When couples are fighting, they often try therapy. The best predictor of divorce is whether or not the couple has contempt for each other. Make sense, as contempt can only build if the other person is dehumanized first. In society today, contempt has grown to a level unmatched since World War 2. Social media, which machine-learning algorithms optimize what people see by how effective the content is in creating outrage and contempt (as it increases revenue), is a major contributor to today's growing unrest.
This makes me think of how we can help improve things here. I realize that part of the fun many members have is jumping in a thread of some daily outrage posted by members who are tacitly encouraged to find the most outrage-inducing posts. It's a drug, pure and concentrated. While it was not our intention to become a pharmacy, we are.
It's more obvious when you scan the groups and imagine them as assorted drugs in a cabinet. Some come in extra-strength, 72-hour doses.
Aside from the normal admonishments of "hey, tone it down!", I want to help find another type of communication for members that is unrelated to a topic. I'm thinking of something like "hey, how are you doing?". Many sites have "status updates" where you can post temporary things that are at a single-human level instead of some external outrage at a 3rd person or group. It's hard to build contempt at another human being who is sharing their personal, intimate feelings. The weakness of status updates is that it only shows up to your friends and only if they're keeping an eye on you. I'm hoping that we could do better.
Here's what I'm thinking the "status update" feature would look like. On the main page, we put a tiny form for "How you feeling?" (or similar), it either opens a form or pops a small window for you to enter 120 characters or so. We then put that as a comment to a single post called, uh, "How you feeling?" and perhaps even display the last 10 or so on the main page. You are encouraged to reply KINDLY to these "comments" - even more than on any other posts. The member will get alerts when people reply to the status update.
What do you think? Are we on the right track? Other ideas?
I feel that politics is hypothetical to a lot of people here. Some of us do not have that luxury. I have had multiple family members die for lack of basic medical care. I have relatives who are POC and or "aliens" and the concerns about them being deported or worse because of racist policies and ideals are, I can assure you very real. Y'all keep on playing nice with the people who espouse and further the ideas that endanger the lives of my family. I am done. I cannot deal with these kinds of discussions and having my all too real concerns written off as "identity politics" and " intolerance" . yeah I'm fucking intolerant of political views that kill people.
@Admin, I hope you will do more commentary and become more visible on your site. I realize you have a lot on your plate, but I think your presence will aid in directing people towards your vision of this site. I am reminded of this quote by Margaret Mead:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Many of the conservative members who have left were in favor of minority groups being denied the same basic human rights and protections as straight, white, cisgender folks. They will not be missed. God or no god, that sort of mentality has no place in civilized society. Men do not have the right to dictate anything concerning a woman's body, and all humans deserve equal rights and protections unilaterally, regardless of their age, race, religion, national origin, nationality, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Anyone who doesn't agree with that isn't much of a human, let alone much of a humanist. As I said, they will not be missed.
@admin "Many of our conservative non-believers have left in the last few months."
I think that had less to do with "contempt" from the left leaning majority, and more to do with some of them finding another site that was more in their bubble..
Im not sure how much more bubble wrapping you could have put on to protect them.. you gave people the ability to block (its a but buggy but it works), you had moderation at a minimum (lefties could only report to site mods), and you gave groups that they could play in..
I guess im a little confused on what you wanted the majority of us to do?..
For example : Calm down the hard left when the hard right makes a misogynistic or racist or anti science statement on a site with a large number of highly educated members? Ummm.. no.. i have no incentive to do that.. sorry
While I can not cite the names of the researchers and institutions which have conducted them from memory, even a half-hearted search will turn up many, non-partisan, scientific studies which have consistently shown that: religious fundamentalism/extremism and extreme political conservatism both tend to attract and appeal to people of lower intelligence, which is in turn far more comfortable engaging in cognitively dissonant rejection of scientifically accepted facts. Religious fundamentalists and extreme conservatives are also more likely to admit to fear of strangers and people who do not fit into their identity groups and therefore tend to be more racist, prejudiced, ethnocentric, homophobic and sexist. So, there is a fundamentally legitimate reason, although perhaps unfair to some and generalized, behind the tendency of people who are politically left of center to be predisposed to reject the comments and ideas of conservatives--too many of them are just willfully ignorant, preferring to believe whatever they choose, regardless of the amount of information that disproves what they choose to believe. There are simply too many, extremely important challenges and problems facing the human race at this point in history, for fools to be comfortably tolerated and indulged. Fundamental, religious extremists/political conservatives execute women by stoning for "sorcery" in this world. Can't happen in the industrialized West you might say? Tell that to the next, gay teenager who is beaten to death and has a tire put over his head and set on fire. Tell that to the 50% of Americans who didn't vote for a president who has made no secret of his hate-mongering, solicitation of assassination and foreign interference in our election process, racism, tolerance and support of fascist organizations and actions, past sexual assaults and sexism, etc. and is LOVED for it by troglodytes who seem straight out of the Dark Ages. Conservatives who aren't the worst of their group are being rejected and judged, because the majority of them refuse to condemn the actions of the worst among them, continue to prefer affiliation with a group that says Native Americans ought to "go back where they came from," African American men should be blocked from entering apartment buildings where they live by entitled white women, because the woman "doesn't know who they are," or better yet--should be summarily executed in the street during routine traffic stops by police who are never charged with a crime, and that it must be okay to grab women by the P-word, because the jibbering idiot in the Oval Office says it's okay. If you want to encourage tolerance of modern conservatives, at least in the U.S., you should maybe first work on getting them to reject and stop identifying with drooling buffoons and dangerously stupid people who will happily set the clock back centuries and claim that is progress. Tolerance, like respect, must be earned and deserved. Tolerance of that which is intolerable is complicity. I served honorably in the U.S. army, and I tell you this--there is no threat in the entire world that frightens me as much as the enemy within our own country.
I attempt civility the majority of the time. However, I am an theist and a liberal living in the heart of christian conservative territory. I spend my days biting my tongue because I don't need death threats, verbal abuse or losing my job. I am forced to stand up for what is right in a virtual world and in a very limited way in real life. If I get heated when someone puts forth ideas and attitudes that I know are harmful to groups of people, society, or those I love, I consider it perfectly acceptable. I live by the though that my rights end where yours begins. The only problem I have with people is when they think their opinion should be every one else's law.
No one should be able to legislate what goes on in another persons body.
Outspoken hatred and bigotry for people of color, women, and the LGBT community directly effects family, friends, people I love. Laws based on this hatred must be fought against.
Espousing views that in the end kill and harm people when they become policy or law is just not something that should be let to slide.
I try to be civil and respectful, but to think that an un-researched opinion is the same as a reasoned researched one is just wrong. i will change my mind on anything that has a proven track record, a proven-well-conducted study or double blind experiment. Prove to me I'm wrong and I'll jump on board. But don't expect people to sit idly by or simper and bow to ignorance while our friends and family are suffering and dying.
WOW! Nice to see so much interest in this post. First, let me say this site is awesome!
I have had only few negative interactions with other members, sad to say they were all from the conservative members and I was blocked by a couple of them.
It is a 2 way street always and I do my very best to only use "I" statements. It never works to have a conversation by telling others things like "you do this all the time" or "you don't have a clue". Name calling, having to get in the absolute last word or denigrating others opinions are NOT good form for intelligent conversation. We can always agree to disagree but calling someone an asshole because their opinion is not your opinion closes the mind.
An example of I statement: " I feel, I think, I would like to say, My opinion is . . . ".
If you are a gop member, trump supporter or conservative why would you poke your nose into a group that is expressly for bashing your political views?
I will check out comments or posts in conservative groups but I do not comment or engage, I just want to see other sides to things. Even if I might agree it is not my political position over all or I am not a member so I can't comment.
I avoid the most intensely outraged posts, not my cup of tea.
A daily checking in could be very nice. Thank you for trying to improve the site and have a platform to hopefully educate non-believers and believers. We are indeed just struggling humans trying to get by the very best we can. Let your light shine!
Big, big sigh. While I understand what you're sayimg and attempting, people who treat everyone who isn't wealthy, white and American as subhuman cannot be reasoned with. They are not salvagable. People who embrace right wing ideals and celebrate the suffering and even death of others as the natural order can't be fixed or communicated with.
Simply, I believe most people don't care how someone else is feeling in real life, nevermind on a site where people are really anonymous. If a status update about how one is feeling is in any way negative, that person is called names and made to feel wrong about feeling the way they do. Many people who have nothing kind or supportive to say just can't keep quiet, they have to put others down. It would be wonderful if that could work in this environment, members getting to know each other personally. It is true that ignorance produces contempt. I believe ignorance within our society is at the core of our problems.
There are a few members of the extreme r and/or irrational right on this site. As a group they are the most unwilling to have their thoughts and biases examined and challenged without becoming verbally and emotionally abusive. Yes, I have become angry at such despicable behavior and I b believe such anger justified. To me, they do not belong in a community willing and able to engage in critical, but constructive dialogue. If they feel uncomfortable with legitimate criticism, so be it.
I do see an intolerance towards conservatives for sure. I think this ideal that we can get along and be civil with them though is misguided. I understand the desire to go back to time when people could be civil even if they disagreed politically. The problem is those times are long gone because that environment was made possible because we all lived in a shared reality. Now the right wing is so lied to they are living in a world that is almost as delusional as the society in North Korea. The Christian Coalition won the war on facts and knowledge in that community so they now believe anything they are told no matter how crazy it is. Flat earth, anti-vax, climate change deniers are all a symptom of this war. Since the people that lie to them get paid for lying and the biggest lie gets the most rewards, is it any surprise we have the environment we have now. So unless you can bring them back into a shared reality so we have a foundation that can be agreed upon I don't see any of that stuff helping at all. Teaching people to be able to defend their point of view better might help but the right wing does tend to be more aggressive so I can understand why many don't want to get into that confrontation. I'm just an aggressive asshole so I don't mind fighting with them. I just enjoy debating really. I enjoy humiliating them with the truth, it's pretty easy since the live in a fantasy world but I don't imagine that is seen as a positive thing by you either. Fighting this shit over the internet is much preferable to fighting it out in the streets so I don't see it as bad as most do. I can also understand why your goals of attracting more people are not the same as mine so you do whatever you feel is best as long as you are not censoring people I won't care.
There are things I can rationally discuss and communicate with and even compromise with. Education, economics, gun laws, healthcare...
But there are things I cannot and will not tolerate or even humor.
And in my book, voting for someone who locks children in cages and bans people from the country for their skin color or religion, incites violence against people, refuses to work with anyone, and tries to take away basic human rights and decency, someone who shuns and insults our allies while snuggling with vicious enemy dictators...if you vote for them just because they support your economic or healthcare views, then you are not someone I can tolerate. You have clearly said that certain lives are worth less to you than your economic beliefs. That is unforgivable.
Now, I'm trying very hard to just block those that make me irrationally angry by being either the above or supporting the above. But I will not compromise with or tolerate people who believe basic human decency, human lives, and human rights are something that can be compromised.
Also a lot of people on the conservative side seem to forget that compromise means BOTH sides give up some and get some. It isn't a one way street.
I like blogger Jim Wright. He's a retired Naval officer who fought in the war in Iraq and sells wooden crafts and pens on Etsy. I don't agree with everything he says - he's too much of a centrist, for one thing - but I think he's very perceptive. This is what he has to say about conservatives:
I attained the age of majority during the Carter Administration. Back then I was defined as a traditional conservative. Balanced budget. War only when necessary. Mom. Apple pie. Conservatives were doctors, engineers, scientists, the guys with the buzz cuts and white shirts who worked at NASA and got us to the moon and back. They smoked Pall Malls and drank Pabst Blue Ribbon. They worked on the assembly line at Ford and GM and they BBQ’d in their backyards in the suburbs on the weekends ... And now, under Obama, I am, of course, a homo-lovin’ red-commie anti-capitalist liberal-traitor rat-bastard who hates America (insert the label of your choice here, Fatty, Fag, Geek, Nerd, Retard, Stupid, Ugly, Loser, and so on. Go on, you know the words) – as are all Americans who don’t cling to their guns and their bibles and their militia uniforms. The entire republican party has shifted right and thrown people like me over the fantail into their wake.
That's the problem, in my opinion. The right has shifted VERRRRY far to the right. I don't mean to disrespect anybody, but really, online and in my personal life, it's very hard to reconcile my beliefs and convictions with some of the things people say.
I did make a conservative friend here who disappeared. I miss him. I hear he's migrated to another atheist site with more conservatives there.
You could try that idea and see how it goes. I do think that on the boards about Philosophy, Movies, Health, and so on, people can find common interests.
The problem lies in that some people cannot discuss things without starting to be abusive. Some people get angry when one asks them questions about what they have posted. They want everyone to agree with their opinions. They are like kindergarten children who have not been thought to play nicely.
I am eternally grateful for this site, and all that the site runners do for us. It has
provided an much-needed outlet and a community for me, and so many of us.
Whatever @Admin decides to do, that's fine.
This is their site, so it's their rules.
We each have the prerogative to participate or not.
As long as there's no censorship, I'm fine.
I think part of the problem is that many of us don't have a model for how communication of this sort should work. I think we need a code of conduct, or at least examples of good communication that we can encourage people to follow. If someone fails to follow the rules, and shows no interest in doing so, that's a good reason to boot them from a group, or from the site as a whole.
One example of "rules of thumb:"
-- No personal attacks. You can criticize an idea, or offer support/evidence for a different idea, but it is not appropriate to say "your group" or "you" do X, Y, or Z Stick to the key idea or topic.
-- No sarcasm or virtual eye-rolling. This means that your communication has to stay direct and to the point, and refrains from trying to make the other person seem or feel foolish.
I guess I don't have much hope of us finding common ground, so I at least want there to be ground rules that attempt to make communication civil.
Comments on here are exactly why Admin wrote this post. The gang mentality on this site is ridiculous. No one likes bigotry but those who are the worst perpetrators turn a blind eye to their disgusting behavior.
I've received private messages from other members calling me a bitch and I don't belong on this site because I'm a conservative and a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment.
I left the sight for awhile because of the attacks but came back because of encouragement by another member. However, it's worse than before and it's truly disappointing how animalistic others behave.
For an entire group of people proclaiming they are freethinkers and respect other peoples opinions...its a joke.
I make a point to post links or articles supporting what I have to say but when most social media and online searches are left controlled it's very challenging.
Conservatives are far outnumbered on here. Liberals like to hurl insults, gang up on, belittle and try to humiliate. I'm not saying conservatives haven't jumped on that bandwagon because they have. It needs to stop on both sides...period. I'm not sure how you could effectively solve this problem.
As more and more "conservatives" are leaving facebook and twitter they move to reedit Qanon and other places where a real Humanist would never find themselves welcome. I wonder why those of us who are sick and tired of their Lies and Malfeasance should accommodate their whining about their treatment here or anywhere. I also do not Troll conservative Groups here or else where as I believe they should not Troll ours and then decide they are somehow Victims of our words. Sorry I just don't get the point of enabling their behaviors as they Troll around looking for empathy they don't share with others.
Drumpf's MO is hate. There should be no tolerance of this. I don't respond to his minions because I don't want to give them any "points" here. Let hate remain level one and ignored. But I love my country too much to pretend that this is still the same liberal versus conservative dichotomy we are historically used to.
I can't say I'm much moved by this. For a start, there are conservatives and then there are conservatives. I was thinking recently that there were fewer posts now from the redneck "I hate lefties and government - except where it helps me" ) loony right wingers. I figured they were in their group reaffirning what they already know from right wing media. Now, not all conservatives fall into this category. I'm not going to pretend to care about what the first category thinks. As this is a place for free exchange of ideas, I'm not much moved by any notion, "be nice to the conservatives, dear, we don't want to hurt their feelings". If they are thoughtful conservatives, they can look out for themselves.
The reason I don't like Conservatives, is they detest change, and live for the past. Conservatives are lousy at preparing for the future. All we have is today and the future. Having grown up in politics, I have been listening to Conservatives most of my life. What occasional good idea they have is always crushed under the weight of all of the truly horrible ideas they have. It is your site. It is free. You should do whatever you like. If we don't like it we can leave. Most of us do appreciate what you have here, even though we may not always show it.