It’s easy to get a little star struck when you meet your skeptic heroes. The first time I met James Randi, in an elevator during TAM 1, I shook his hand, and hyperventilated through a few pleasantries and thank you’s for all his hard work.
In the years since, though, I’ve come off of the idea of “heroes” in general, because building people up to put them up on a pedestal was something I felt I’d outgrown. We’re all people, we’re all flawed, and I’d rather keep everyone on the same level and try to work on those flaws. It keeps me from being disappointed when my “hero” inevitably turns out to not be perfect.
Lately, it seems, a lot of people are having their flaws exposed, ranging from the curious to the serious. If you’ve met some of these people, like I have, it hurts when another one “falls”. It can be discouraging as well. As I’ve written social networking is a train wreck of execution right now. It brings out the worst in people, seems to make people more tribal, and wastes our time with the gamification of our self esteem. Of course, I want everyone in high school who picked on me and kept me an outcast to know how much better I’m doing then they are, and you should “Like” my post to tell me how much you agree with me.
So here I am, “cut off” from the skeptic movement presumably, as Twitter and Facebook continue to collect each and every moment they can. How can I continue if I’m “cut off”?
Last year at TAM, during one of Tim Farley’s talks, I got the inspiration to do a website that caters to skeptic podcasts. It would be search engine where you can put in a topic and find out the episodes or podcast you should listen to. SkepTunes.com was born. I registered the domain on 7/13/2012 and began work on it as soon as I got home.
At that same TAM I met a couple from the UK who also happened to be vegan, libertarians. Rebecca, Paul, Jamie, and myself hit it off amazing well, and I’ve made some great friends. It turns out Paul is a developer like me, but also a great designer unlike me. He liked the idea as well, and soon after my ultra, ultra beta version, he started working on it with me.
For this year’s TAM, we wore Skeptunes tee-shirts Paul designed, along with business cards. The more we told people, the more we got great feedback. Skeptunes is my skeptic real estate. It’s the place where I get to promote one of my favorite things, skeptic podcasts. It’s my contribution, though at the moment it’s very small.
There are too many success stories of skeptics doing something by just getting out there and getting it done. Back in the day, Skepchick.org was quite an accomplishment. Don’t let the recent years let you forget that. MonsterTalk the podcast has become one of the most popular skeptic podcast period, because of the work of Blake Smith. Doubtful News is now the go-to site for the best takes on the allegedly weird, strange, and unusual, through the hard work of Sharon Hill. Even though I’m certainly not a fan of the Freethought Blog network, they did decide to just go ahead and do a virtual conference.
Stake out out your own claim. Find something you really enjoy and put all the time you spend on Facebook or Twitter into something you love that can make a difference. When social networking gets you down, like it has me, you’ll have something to fall back on without getting sucked into a vortex of innuendo and schoolyard taunting, no matter how serious the issue is.