Lynnea and I had a wonderful time in Orlando, doing all the stupid tourist things we could pack into five days. If you want to see what we were up to, add me on Facebook for the photo albums, but first a word to the wise: Message me when you do it. Just say something as short as “I want to see the vacation photos.” Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in friend request limbo for a while.
Anyway, tourist traps aside, I think the best time we had was going to the Oasis Tiki Bar to meet fellow atheists. I think about twenty people showed up. We met students, bartenders, bus drivers, and lawyers. And you know, even though a couple of them said goofy things like “You’re like a movie star to me!” it seems like what everybody really desperately wanted was to talk to… each other. I even saw a couple of people get together and form a carpool to the upcoming rally in Washington, D.C.
I love talking to fellow atheists, especially those who don’t already have a community. Living as an atheist without support can be a difficult experience, because so many people openly think that your beliefs are wrong, it is very hard to continue to believe that you are not just correct, but actually sane. It always seems to come as such a shock to loner atheists that there are so many other people right in their backyards who feel the same way, but also can’t come out and say it for fear of being attacked.
It’s often said that organizing atheists can be like herding cats, but whether they’re organized or not, my general experience is that atheists love talking to each other and often don’t get the opportunity. In fact, one of the reasons I love doing the TV show is that it’s an excuse to get a whole bunch of people together afterwards who just want to eat, drink, talk, and enjoy themselves.
So this is my message to all you people who aren’t fortunate enough to have a local TV show as an excuse to hang out with other atheists on a regular basis: make your own excuse! Start your own group. Start a game night. Advertise in the papers. Take advantage of meetup.com. Go out on a limb and cautiously identify as atheist, or at least skeptical, to some friends who you think might be sympathetic. Network. You’ll be glad you did.