Student groups and volume

Fellow blogger Crys has a good series on cultural differences, particularly between Italy and other countries. Something I like to think about are cultural differences between atheist groups and queer groups.

Back when I was an undergraduate, I joined both atheist and queer student groups. The most obvious difference between the two was that the queer groups were very quiet, and the atheist group was very loud. Queer groups would often have awkward moments of silence, where everyone was hoping someone else will choose to speak. The atheist group was full of interruptions, even when we’d try to impose moderation.

I can name a few obvious sources of the cultural difference (and I invite you to name others). The queer students are often looking for a space for themselves, and are worried that maybe they won’t really fit in. The atheist students are often looking for a space where they can swap jokes about the sheer absurdity of religion/supernaturalism/pseudoscience.

I kind of feel like the queer students have more noble intentions here. The atheist students are just entertaining themselves, under the implicit belief that mockery is a sufficient agent for social change. Nonetheless, I’ll note that I stopped participating in queer student groups, but did not stop participating in atheist student groups. Awkward students trying to find themselves is dreary, whereas awkward students trying to one-up each other’s jokes is merely frustrating.

Years into grad school, I realized to my chagrin, that women tend to get interrupted more often than men. For that reason, I’ve long advocated better discussion moderation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *