A hashtag can be empowering. A hashtag can allow others to have a simple way to search for likeminded comments, blogs, posts, thoughts and pretty much everything that the #internet allows for. A hashtag gives people the ability to connect in a way that has revolutionized how we communicate and consume our digital lives.
Recently a gentleman named Mark Nebo co founder of Be Secular started a hashtag called #normalizeatheism. A simple message but a powerful one has come from this hashtag. Why did Mark start this? What are the reasons behind the desire to normalize atheism? Does a hashtag matter in the grand scheme of life?
To Normalize means to bring back,through a transformation of variables, to a standard or normal condition. In society being normal allows people to find a standard or mode that is acceptable to the majority of individuals. Being normal does not constitute being correct but creates a basis for understanding what is or is not acceptable.
So what does that mean to #atheists? Should we be embracing #normalization? In one sense the word #normalize would mean we just want to be like everyone else. We just want to be accepted by the majority of society as being #human. On the other hand do we really want to be lumped into a group where in our country to be #normal means to be #religious? This I think is a crossroads that should really be considered.
If we look at the negatives of the situation we examine what it means to be #normal. As stated above being #normal means people subscribe to a #religion which typically includes a #belief in #gods. But what if this “normal” image could be shifted? Would that lend to the need to help #atheism not be so vilified and condemned? Looking at trends in society we can examine the lgbtq community and see that the more vocal that movement has become the more acceptance and support they have gained. By simply telling people you identify as either an LGBTQ member or as an alley of lgbtq rights this puts the rights of a minority in the view of the majority. It helps to transcend the barriers that have been established by stereotyping and bias from the past. In part changing what people see as #normal will help remove a barrier that #atheists are immoral, baby eating, horrible human beings. By changing the norm we help to familiarize people with non-belief and the fact that we are almost the same as they are.
One other negative that was raised was that it will allow #atheists to be come passive and arm chair activists. This concern would be troubling if our society accepted #atheism as #normal. If society didn’t place a burden on those who don’t believe to make an effort to fit their cultural norm then I could see the point of using a hashtag as a way to allow people to feel active without doing anything. The biggest difference between hash-tagging #normalizeatheism and telling someone you will #pray for them is that in society it is acceptable to #pray for something and think it will change something. When people #pray they actually believe that they are going to persuade a #god to change its mind on whether any matter of things. If you are reading this and you are an #atheism we probably can assume that we both #believe this to be false. We all agree that the possibility of a god is minuscule and that saying a statement to an #imaginary being won’t change anything. Now I won’t claim that #christians stop with #prayer but we must consider that when something is accepted in society and when that accepted thing is believed to actually change how events will happen, then we can see it as an armchair approach to changing the world. Or as I will call it a passive approach at changing the world.
Now coming back to the #normalizeatheism hashtag we all know that by posting it, things won’t magically change. We don’t believe as atheists in supernatural beings or even even supernatural powers to change things. We do #believe in the power of #humanity. We believe that we can change things. We know that by vocalizing our #atheism that it will help people know that there are more #nonbelievers and that we deserve equality in our country. To me, what #normalizeatheism says is that it is ok to be an #atheist. It is ok to be proud that you don’t believe in gods or in supernatural powers. Normalize atheism resonates with me because I can demonstrate to everyone that I am just like they are and can do the same things they can do without a belief in a deity or supernatural power.
Last I think we need to just ask Mark Nebo why he started #normalizeatheism. This seems to be the most logical conclusion to a dilemma. So I messaged Mark Nebo and asked him the reason he started it and what it meant to him. Below is what he said.
“I didn’t really set out to start #normalizeatheism but someone asked me why i wear atheist shirts out in public all the time, and I said that I thought that it helped make it more normal. I feel good when I am free to be myself.”
It seems that Mark’s not only wants others to feel comfortable in their non belief but to also feel comfortable in what he believes or disbelieves. So by hash tagging our posts we can be proud of who we are and help to get more people engaged in talking about #atheism.
I support #normalizeatheism because it is right for the movement and it is right for me. Support #normalizeatheism by hash-tagging it in your blogs, posts and tweets. You can also go like the new Facebook page Normalize Atheism and like and share it with your friends.