Its been awhile since I started this journey. Years, since my inaugural post. Looking at the me of then in comparison to the me of now, is really a contrast equatable to night VS day.
This is saying something, considering that the idea of managing my own blog was asinine to me mere months before I took the plunge. Even using Twitter (back then, something I viewed as strictly a micro blogging platform) wasn’t all that appealing. I thought that personal blogging was just for the narcissistic personalities in the online world to showcase their self important lives to the world at large. If I hate filling in about you profile information on social media, why would I do it as a hobby?!
A place for unintelligent brain farts or thoughtless arguments that at times lead to embarrassing retractions.
Of course I know better now, having embraced both platforms in a way that suits me. This blog serving as a public white board of sorts, used to help sort out various ideas that pass though my mind. And Twitter, because of its endless stream of current events and news.
But though these 2 platforms are a big part of life now, it was months before I signed up for either service. Despite this however, I have no regrets.
Though most bloggers likely know this already, it takes a surprising amount of time to operate a blog. Were talking (sometimes) HOURS of work into posts. But then again, its a hobby. Be it collecting sports cards or coins, gardening or writing words on a digital white board, its time well spent if you get something out of it.
Has contributing to this blog made any significant difference in my life?
Yes, and no.
In the yes category, having this blank sheet available really helped to refine my views in many areas (particularly on complex issues). Simply because its much easier to scrutinize and organize/sort out what is in front of your eyes (as opposed to ideas in your brain). This helped me to grow as a person by often forcing me to scrutinize not just topics and ideas alien to me, but also topics close (and sometimes dear) to me. While that process was not always easy (and at times leading to a position very different from whence I started), it has overall been a positive experience. Even though many of these positions have led me to a place of almost alienation from many of the groups and company that I once called myself a follower.
To this end, having this writing space has helped me in abandoning a pass time I once enjoyed quite a bit. That pass time being spending time (at times in amounts that are embarrassing to admit) in forums and groups debating. A word that I now accept as a code word for arguing.
I used to enjoy a good war of words, back in the day. And really, I still do, depending on the opposition. I just realize now that I was kidding myself back then when going after Christians with the sword of reason, and thinking I was making a difference. Because in reality, it amounted to little more than hours of bickering. Though it all may have had a positive effect (in helping some to shed the chains of faith), it was certainly not the effect I had convinced myself it was at the time. As a few people in real-life had said back then to deaf ears:
“I don’t know why you bother! Its not like your going to change anyone’s mind!
Another thing that I used to tell myself, was that this experience in the forum circuit was an educational experience. That I came out on this side with far more knowledge in than I went in with.
Yes, I did learn a thing or 2 from my presence in these forums and debates. But like my inflated view of what difference my voice was making in terms of helping people, I also have inflated the real educational value of the time spent in the forums.
Way back in highschool already, I had accepted that their likely was a god shaped hole in the universe. I got there as a result of a personal coping mechanism to an extreme situation, but none the less, I was where I needed to be. I would learn later that people that accepted such were called atheists.
In hindsight, that is all I really needed to know.
Now, my time in the forum scene (from the context I have presented here) was not entirely wasted. There was much about religion, science and many other areas that I was unfamiliar to previous to these forums. But though I thought I was learning more about Atheism, I now know that not to be the case.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I knew pretty much all I needed back in high school. Atheism is the denial of the existence of a deity or deities.
The rest is just dogmatic filler.
The rule of Atheism in the irreligious would (leading to ridiculous statements like “All are born Atheist!” and “if you do not believe in god, you ARE an atheist!”).
Keep in mind that as much as I trash the Atheist label, I am not against it (persay). Its my personal preference to shy away from as many labels as possible as a rule, being they often act more as a barrier to progress than anything else. But people can declare themselves atheist (or whatever colors they want).
Just do not assume to talk for every irreligious person by labeling all Atheists by default. And do not use ridiculous terminologies like atheists in denial as all encompassing of this entire irreligious group. Indeed, there are some people that are still on their journey to irreligion that may be clinging to old (comfortable) labels, or people that misunderstand terms. But this does not encompass everyone.
To assume so makes one no more of a critical thinker than most theists that they likely consider themselves intellectually superior to. Not that this surprises me anymore.
Being the difference between learning atheism, and realizing atheism.
Those that learn Atheism, tend to be steered in that direction by the internet, and as such often become very definition conscious (they can not see outside of the confines of the dictionary definition of the word).
Those that realize Atheism on the other hand, just accept at some point, that their likely isn’t anything to this god thing. When one arrives at an irreligious conclusion in this way, one tends to be more accepting of the so called middle ground. Because saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that really isn’t an unreasonable assessment.
So (yet another) atheist rant aside, I acknowledge that I didn’t learn much about atheism, from debating it. All I learned was pretty much, how the philosophically uneducated contextualize and stretch a term to the point of dogmatism.
As scathing as I am, I do take into consideration the education systems of the world. The worst of them reinforce religious dogmatism, ensuring those poor kids almost certainly will not embrace critical thought. And even the better systems do not really promote (or touch on in any way), philosophy.
But even if people are ill equipped to contextualize some of the more ambiguous concepts of life due to lacking the ability to comprehend these concepts, the concessions stop when these people refuse to acknowledge this potential knowledge gap.
One can not hold a person in to much contempt for ignorance. But that changes if those same people flat out refuse to even entertain that they may not be seeing the whole picture.
All in all, I would not say that my debating days were a waste of time, persay. I enjoyed it, which counts for something. But its not something I enjoy any longer. Call it arrogance, call it personal growth, call it whatever.
It used to be fairly pleasurable, exchanges with those at your knowledge level or below. But it becomes less so when YOU as a person naturally progress UP (as should be the trajectory of life), but your peers keep trying to drag you back down.
I would rather speak to an empty room than to debate those unwilling to accept any doubt.
When it comes to the “No” part of “Has this blog helped me to grow as a person?”, in some sense, the changes and growth would have occurred with or without this digital diary of sorts. But having said that, having this blog as a place to vent and reinvent certainly boosted the process of leaving behind the old and embracing the more sensible. For context, had I still been in the thick of various ideological groups and such on Facebook (and elsewhere), I may well have just given up. But having a place to experiment in peace helped me to not only accept my views, but also to accept that the mob does not matter. Being part of a hive mind does not mean your correct.
So, looking back, the time spent here on this blog was time well invested. Some consider success by way of interaction. While I welcome interaction from most anyone, its not as important to me as, just having a place to formulate my thoughts.