I don’t know if I will ever finish the 3rd part of my recent series because it is too much to type, and some of it might offend some of my old co-workers who have read the first two parts. But I will try. My intention is still to finish it before my “two years clean” post because the last phase of my addiction and my cleaning up without rehab is relevant to understanding my current views, particularly my contempt for 12-step programs and the widely held mistaken belief that addiction is a disease. So finishing that is, in a way, a prerequisite to the milestone post, which I also haven’t started writing, though I know what I intend to write.
In the meantime (again), here are some things that piss me off… Courting down from least to most offence taken.
3. What the actual fuck?
Sometime while I wasn’t paying attention, this phrase became the go-to phrase used by many when sharing anything about which they disagree or are bemused. I don’t know where the phrase came from, maybe something I missed in pop culture, but it doesn’t matter. (My searches tell me it conveys a greater sense of incredulity or is used when the magnitude of the reaction warrants an exclamation of greater significance than “What the fuck”.) But I don’t care for the explanation – it’s still a phrase that doesn’t make sense.
What the actual fuck? Actual, as opposed to what? A fake fuck? It seems to have replaced the previous dumb phrase, “Epic win/fail” as the number one statement made frequently by pretentious jackasses with little imagination. “Just sayin” is still right on its heels, in terms of common usage by the unimaginative, but that one doesn’t get to me quite as much – maybe because those who use it are quite clearly childish and stupid. Many who write “What the actual fuck” are popular on social media and have many followers who are apparently as vacuous as themselves. It’s like one big happy family of idiots.
Lately, one of the Facebook discussion groups I follow is filled with hatred for all Muslim people. It goes well beyond the normal name-calling of “religitards”, which is bad enough, and routinely calls them goat-fuckers, raisin-heads and worse. What amazes me is that atheists, who are supposed to be free thinkers and good critical thinkers, can be prone to such blatant and offensive hate speech.
When you make gross generalizations about any group, it never does any good. I know that many people are upset because of ISIS, and it is disturbing that the strictest adherents to many religions turn out to be hateful bigots and racists, sometimes going all the way to being terrorists, but this does not apply only to Islam. I’ve had many good Muslim friends over the years, and the hatred for all Muslims I see so common on the internet lately is disturbing. (It’s a growing trend, not confined to atheists, and I wonder how serious and deeply held the anti-Islam sentiments really are.) I criticize Islam, as well as Christianity and other religions, but saying hateful things about the people who practice those religions is another kettle of fish entirely.
People are locked to their religions because of indoctrination, because of the culture they grew up in. The religious, despite their piety and their declarations of faith, remain trapped in their religion because it gives them a sense of fellowship, of belonging and of purpose. I don’t believe that most of them are serious about the actual details of their theistic beliefs; mostly they don’t think about that, don’t like to be challenged but just want to live day-to-day without questioning what they’ve been taught. In that sense many are intellectually lazy, and it is easy to stick to your belief despite common sense telling you that it makes no sense. Questioning it opens a can of worms that most are uncomfortable with. If there is no god, maybe there is no soul, and maybe there is no life after death, maybe you’ve spent inordinate amounts of time investing in the belief not only that you will not die, but that you will be reunited with all the people you loved and lost, and it is difficult to let go of that belief. So it’s much easier not to question all of these things.
I believe that this is what lies at the root of many who cling to their religion, and if I’m right, even if only sometimes, then it doesn’t matter what religion those people cling to. In fact many people do switch from one religion to another, for example due to a romantic partner with a different religion. What this also means is that the reasons to hold a prejudice against any religion are not valid, because those people just happened to be stuck in that particular religion. Which religion it is, is irrelevant.
Likewise the fundamentalists would probably be fundamentalists regardless of their religion. They’re just those kinds of people. It’s like assuming that the Catholic church causes paedophilia. It doesn’t. In reality, paedophiles find their way into positions and institutions where they have access to children, and where they can get away with it. The church unfortunately is guilty of trying to cover it up though. But you’ll also find paedophiles in other churches, schools, preschools, boy scouts, girl guides and everywhere else where they can get to children.
Those nasty things you know about the Quran may not even be common knowledge to most followers of Islam, in the same way that most followers of Christianity are not aware of all the hatred and malice to be found in their own holy book. (Though you wouldn’t say so these days, Christianity forbids women from being preachers, recommends the stoning of new wives if they are found not to be virgins, and condones slavery.) They seriously believe that their morals came from their god, as we see frequently in their apologist arguments. While their arguments from morality are fallacious, they do indicate that the people making those arguments are predominantly good people. Selective belief, right down to selective knowledge of what’s actually written in the “holy” books, is the cornerstone of all Abrahamic religion. It is all but required, to deal with the perils of cognitive dissonance entailed in believing in scripture that’s rife with contradiction. As an atheist who has rejected all religion as man-made and thus not divine, I naively expected all atheists to think this way, and thus to be critical of religions but not the religious. Am I so wrong to expect this?
There isn’t any global conspiracy to spread Islam and take over the world forcing Sharia law on all of us, and even if there is such a conspiracy, it is not coming from the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. And while there may be despicable things in the Quran that you can find to use against them, such things can be found in the Bible and Torah as well. I despise religion on the whole, but do not hate the people who are religious.
1. Judgemental jerks who tell me how I should or shouldn’t use social media
A while back I shared an article on Facebook, one that questioned the existence of the “historical Jesus”. An old school friend who happens to be a theist commented on that post and a short discussion ensued. Then someone else who isn’t even in my friends’ list chimed in…
“People should keep this sort of thing off Facebook” is not a valid complaint when you aren’t even a “friend”. The person is question was also an old school acquaintance, one who was never terribly open-minded and clearly doesn’t like having his closely held beliefs questioned. The fact that he isn’t a friend even though I sent him a friend request years ago indicates his judgement and attitude already, and he has no business telling me what to share or not to share on my feed (which only came to his attention because a mutual friend commented). Furthermore, the comment that was directed at somebody else with passive-aggressive, indirect and generalized hostility towards me in my own thread, worded as “people should…”, was just plain rude and out of line.
I don’t follow anyone’s definition of what social media is about or supposed to be about, and although I use it for sharing photos of family and personal achievements, it can be and arguably should be used for so much more. My online presence isn’t that strong to begin with, but it is all about learning and growing intellectually, which among other things involves questioning my own closely held beliefs as well as that of anyone who reads my writing or my shares. If you don’t like that, it isn’t my problem. But I don’t need any narrow-minded hard-working idiots telling me what should be shared on my feed. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, prick!