Social media and social ostracism of atheists

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The new atheist Sam Harris said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."(see also: Distrust of atheists)[1][2]

Research indicates that atheists are widely distrusted - even among atheists themselves (see: Distrust of atheists).

The new atheist Sam Harris said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."[1][2] See also: Views on atheists

Psychology Today reports about social media: media has caused us to shift away from expressing our self-identities and toward constructing facades based on the answers to these questions, "How will others look at me?" and "How can I ensure that others view me positively?" The goal for many now in their use of social media becomes how they can curry acceptance, popularity, status, and, by extension, self-esteem through their profiles and postings. Self-awareness and self-expression give way to impression management and self-promotion.[3]

Buzzfeed reported about social media and the social ostracism of atheists in Bengladesh:

In 2013, after the murder of atheist blogger Rajib Haidar Shovon [one of several such murders in Bangladesh in recent years], I, along with other activists, bloggers, and campaigners, was targeted by the Islamists. They declared us atheists and wanted us dead. Old friends unfriended and blocked me on Facebook, very close relatives stopped contacting me, and some even threatened me to make me stop.[4]

Karen Garst wrote in her book Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion: "...people stopped talking to me, and some even unfriended me on social media."[5]

Although atheists are unfriended at social media due to their atheism/militant atheism, many also block others on social media. Politically, most atheists lean to the left politically (see: Atheism and politics and Secular left). A Pew Research study found that “consistent liberals” were most likely to block others on social media for disagreeing with them politically.[6]

Atheists and Twitter

See also: Atheism and happiness and Atheism and depression and Internet atheism

CNN reported that Christians are happier than atheists - on Twitter.[7]

People generally want to socialize with happy people rather than those who have a general disposition of unhappiness.

CNN reported about atheism and happiness:

The study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tapped Twitter as a research tool and compared the messages of Christians and atheists.

The conclusion: When they are limited to 140 characters or less, these researchers say, believers are happier than their counterparts.

Two doctoral students in social psychology and an adviser analyzed the casual language of nearly 2 million tweets from more than 16,000 active users to come up with their findings, which were published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The team identified subjects by finding Twitter users who followed the feeds of five prominent public figures. In the case of Christians, those select five were Pope Benedict XVI, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza and Joyce Meyer, an evangelical author and speaker.

In the case of atheists, the five followed feeds included Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Monica Salcedo and Michael Shermer - the latter two respectively being a self-described “fiercely outspoken atheist” blogger, and a science writer who founded The Skeptics Society.

With the help of a text analysis program, the researchers found that Christians tweet with higher frequency words reflecting positive emotions, social relationships and an intuitive style of thinking – the sort that’s gut-driven.[7]

Richard Dawkins, social media and loss of public influence

See also: Richard Dawkins and social media

The new atheist Richard Dawkins has had difficulty managing his social media presence which has caused him a considerable amount of negative publicity and loss of public influence (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

Richard Dawkins' Elevatorgate controversy

See also: Elevatorgate

Dawkins' loss of a very large amount of his public influence was the result of his Elevatorgate controversy (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence). The Elevatorgate controversy involved femninsts and others being offended by his blog comments to a blog post and his subsequent commentary about the matter

The day Elevatorgate occurred has been called the day the atheist movement died

See also: Atheist movement and Atheist pessimism about the atheist movement

Richard Dawkins is still widely criticized for igniting deep fractures in the atheist movement through his Elevatorgate controversy. For example, on November 26, 2013, the atheist activist and blogger Jen McCreight posted at Twitter the message: "Did anyone on Dawkins AMA ask how he feels about singlehandedly destroying the atheist movement with the Dear Muslima yet?"[8] In December 2013, atheist Jack Vance at Atheist Revolution called July 2, 2011, which is the day that Elevatorgate occurred, "The day the atheist movement died."[9]

Richard Dawkins and Twitter

See also: Richard Dawkins and Twitter

Despite the medical advice of his doctors, Richard Dawkins had a very active Twitter presence before his minor stroke (with a number of Twitter controversies) and numerous public controversies.[10]

Dawkins has accumulated over 30,000 Twitter tweets.[11] The Independent reported, "Dawkins also admitted he wasn't very good at managing Twitter and the strong reactions his posts tend to provoke. 'Twitter is very difficult medium to handle,' he said. 'I’m not much of a diplomat.'"[12] However, after his stroke, in May 2016, Dawkins gave up posting on Twitter and the tweets that appear in his name are done by his staff.[13]

Richard Dawkins' battle with online fans over their use of profanity and gossip

See also: Atheism and profanity and Richard Dawkins' battle with online fans and Internet atheism

In February 2010, the news organization The Telegraph reported Richard Dawkins was "embroiled in a bitter online battle over plans to rid his popular internet forum for atheists of foul language, insults and 'frivolous gossip'."[14] Richard Dawkins has a reputation for being abrasive so the behavior of his fans is not entirely surprising. See: Atheism and profanity

It is commonly thought that some individuals who commonly use profanity have limited vocabularies and imaginations.[15][16]

PZ Myers turns off the social aspect of his blog

See also: Atheism and social skills and Atheism and narcissism

The atheist Michael Nugent reported in 2015 about fellow atheist PZ Myers:

PZ Myers has now closed down the social interaction aspect of his blog, after blaming his commenters for attacking an insider in the way that he has always encouraged them to attack outsiders. He also complains that FreeThought Blogs itself is ‘less a unified group than a disparate collection of loosely affiliated blogs that have found a convenient hosting service.’

PZ’s new view on community-building is that ‘we are all objects in space, drifting, occasionally bouncing off each other or tugging gently at each other’s masses. And that’s about it.’ PZ now says that he ‘will be a cold dark ember of a star, following my own whims, drifting alone, not trying to create a hospitable atmosphere.’

This shows that PZ Myers has learned nothing useful from the Little Shop of Hatred that he created and nourished until he lost control of it. Yesterday I wrote that, while I welcomed PZ’s diminishing influence in the international atheist movement, I would also welcome a genuine conversion by him to civility and empathy and fairness and justice. This has not happened. So be it.[17]

Atheism, social media and criminal charges in Islamic countries

See also: Atheism vs. Islam

A Huffington Post article entitled In The Middle East Sharing Atheism on Social Media Ends Badly declares:

Best to keep your non-believing status messages to yourself — if you are an Egyptian citizen that is. Karim Ashraf Mohammed Al-Banna has been sentenced to prison for sharing his atheist identity on Facebook.

After his name appeared on a list of atheists Al-Banna approached police from the northern Egyptian city Idku to file a harassment complaint. Al-Banna informed the police he was being harassed because he was an atheist. After all the Egyptian constitution “ostensibly guarantees freedom of belief,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Instead of protecting the 21-year-old college student the authorities decided to arrest him.

In Egypt “freedom of belief” is protected only to a degree. If you criticize Islam you can be prosecuted under religious contempt. Religious contempt is a very broad term, but essentially anything seen as blasphemous to Islamic teachings can be considered grounds for religious contempt. Espousing atheism on Facebook apparently counts.[18]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Roberts, Jessica, et al. (June 19, 2007). "Interview with an atheist". News21. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 NEWSWEEK Poll: 90% Believe in God, Newsweek 2007
  3. Technology: Is Technology Stealing Our (Self) Identities?, Psychology Today, 2011
  4. How It Feels To Be An Atheist In A Highly Religious Society, Buzzfeed
  5. Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion by Karen Garst, 2016
  6. Pew survey: “Consistent liberals” most likely to block others on social media for disagreeing with them politically
  7. 7.0 7.1 Christians happier than atheists – on Twitter, CNN
  8. Jennifer McCreight on the Twitter about the Elevatorgate scandal
  9. The Day the Atheist Movement Died by Jack Vance at Atheist Revolution
  10. Richard Dawkins Twitter
  11. Richard Dawkins defends Ahmed Mohamed comments and dismisses Islamophobia as a 'non-word'
  12. Dawkins: I’ve Given Up Twitter.
  14. Handbook for New Converts By William J. (Bill) Morgan ThD, page 77
  15. The Etiquette of Profanity by Alan Weiss, Posted on October 31, 2010
  16. PZ Myers and the Little Shop of Hatred by Michael Nugent, 2015
  17. In The Middle East Sharing Atheism on Social Media Ends Badly by By Dieter Holger, Huffington Post, 2015