How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
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18-08-2014, 11:47 AM
How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
I have gone from free-loving charismatic Christian, to a fundamentalist bible-banging, pious "know-it-all", to studying the bible and becoming a strong skeptic and agnostic atheist. All of these stages were month to year long processes.

I post thought provoking quotes on my Facebook, mostly subtle yet sharp, and try not to sound like I "know it all", because I honestly don't know it all and I am not afraid to say that.

Through some of the subsequent comment threads that have happened with religious folk, it seems like they view me as having some profound insight to life, which I have openly stated that I do not claim to have. I am a doubter. I am a skeptic. I do not claim knowledge to things that I (or anyone for that matter) could not possibly know. Yet somehow I feel like I come off like a pompous prick.

Have any of you encountered this? I am sure that some of this feeling comes from my criticism of my religion (subtle or otherwise), but I wasn't sure if anyone has dealt with this before.

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18-08-2014, 11:52 AM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
Which specific quotes do you post?

The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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18-08-2014, 11:59 AM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
(18-08-2014 11:47 AM)zachzachzachzach Wrote:  I have gone from free-loving charismatic Christian, to a fundamentalist bible-banging, pious "know-it-all", to studying the bible and becoming a strong skeptic and agnostic atheist. All of these stages were month to year long processes.

I post thought provoking quotes on my Facebook, mostly subtle yet sharp, and try not to sound like I "know it all", because I honestly don't know it all and I am not afraid to say that.

Through some of the subsequent comment threads that have happened with religious folk, it seems like they view me as having some profound insight to life, which I have openly stated that I do not claim to have. I am a doubter. I am a skeptic. I do not claim knowledge to things that I (or anyone for that matter) could not possibly know. Yet somehow I feel like I come off like a pompous prick.

Have any of you encountered this? I am sure that some of this feeling comes from my criticism of my religion (subtle or otherwise), but I wasn't sure if anyone has dealt with this before.

I think people are sort of programmed to feel like jerks for questioning religion, because we have it drummed into our heads that peoples beliefs are special and shouldnt be questioned. That is something we need to work past.
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18-08-2014, 12:05 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
OK, the facts of the matter are not clear in your post.

Have people actually told you that they view you as a "pompous prick", or is this something you may have read into their words?

If they haven't outright said it, you can't really know if it's true without testing the perception out, e.g. actually asking these people what they think of how you come across. It's very easy to read non-existent "tones" into people's words posted on social media. Eg you might be hearing a bit of your own residual guilty conscience for asserting against religion reflected back at you in the perceived "tone" of other people's words. If that's all it is - there's no real reason to stop!

Another thing, It's basically impossible to be opinionated without pissing at least somebody off. Perhaps consider it a problem if you are pissing everyone off, although I have heard it said that if you don't have at least a few people moaning about your behaviour then that's a sign you aren't actually living your own life fully.

Phil
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18-08-2014, 12:35 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
(18-08-2014 12:05 PM)phil.a Wrote:  OK, the facts of the matter are not clear in your post.

Have people actually told you that they view you as a "pompous prick", or is this something you may have read into their words?

If they haven't outright said it, you can't really know if it's true without testing the perception out, e.g. actually asking these people what they think of how you come across. It's very easy to read non-existent "tones" into people's words posted on social media. Eg you might be hearing a bit of your own residual guilty conscience for asserting against religion reflected back at you in the perceived "tone" of other people's words. If that's all it is - there's no real reason to stop!

Another thing, It's basically impossible to be opinionated without pissing at least somebody off. Perhaps consider it a problem if you are pissing everyone off, although I have heard it said that if you don't have at least a few people moaning about your behaviour then that's a sign you aren't actually living your own life fully.

Phil

I understand that tone can't be properly interpreted through the internet. I haven't been told that I am a "pompous prick" directly either. I have had a decent number of private message from old youth group friends who are now non-believers as well, which has been encouraging, and a few people that didn't want to discuss things publicly but have an interest in what I have posted. I mainly ask this question because yesterday someone said that I had "subtle claims of superior knowledge and reason" based on what I have been posting. It may just be this one person, it may be others, but it is definitely not everyone

While I honestly don't care if I piss people off, I am trying to promote reason and critical thinking, not have a bunch of people unfollow me because I am perceived as a jerk, so I wanted to post here and see if other people have dealt with the same issue before.

I wasn't sure if anyone else had the same struggle - being partially subtle, yet sometimes close to militant, without being

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18-08-2014, 12:41 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
There's always a problem with potential projection, since text doesn't carry the tonal inflection points like speech.

People end up getting butt hurt when they shouldn't be.
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18-08-2014, 01:00 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
(18-08-2014 12:35 PM)zachzachzachzach Wrote:  I understand that tone can't be properly interpreted through the internet. I haven't been told that I am a "pompous prick" directly either. I have had a decent number of private message from old youth group friends who are now non-believers as well, which has been encouraging, and a few people that didn't want to discuss things publicly but have an interest in what I have posted. I mainly ask this question because yesterday someone said that I had "subtle claims of superior knowledge and reason" based on what I have been posting. It may just be this one person, it may be others, but it is definitely not everyone

While I honestly don't care if I piss people off, I am trying to promote reason and critical thinking, not have a bunch of people unfollow me because I am perceived as a jerk, so I wanted to post here and see if other people have dealt with the same issue before.

So has anyone un-friended you?

Getting back to the facts of the matter - you mention a bunch of positive experiences to the posts you've been making and only mention 1 single bad experience, e.g. the "subtle claims of superior knowledge and reason".

Unless there's anything else to report, it sounds like it's going quite well? Remember that the "subtle claims of superior knowledge and reason" person might actually be someone who believes he has superior knowledge and reason and was hearing his own beliefs about himself reflected back at him in the "tone" of your posts. So whilst it may be evidence of problems on your part, it may be pure projection on his.

Quote:I wasn't sure if anyone else had the same struggle - being partially subtle, yet sometimes close to militant, without being

Oh, I like that. Sounds like a paradox that has to be actually lived though ;-)

Phil
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18-08-2014, 01:27 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
I don't think it is possible to speak publicly about religion or the supernatural without pissing at least one person off. Doesn't matter how you say it...that just changes how many people you piss off.

Edit: Being condescending is probably the biggest jerk stance.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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18-08-2014, 03:03 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
(18-08-2014 01:27 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  I don't think it is possible to speak publicly about religion or the supernatural without pissing at least one person off. Doesn't matter how you say it...that just changes how many people you piss off.

Edit: Being condescending is probably the biggest jerk stance.

Trouble is, it's very hard for an atheist to avoid being condescending when talking with a theist -- and vice versa. Both sides think the other side is deluded and wrong, and it's hard to keep that out of your tone, even if you make a conscious effort to do so.

I used to argue with theists on another forum, in which I took an agnostic stance. I wanted to have an honest discussion of the issues, and see if we could come to an agreement. Not a chance, because they wouldn't even admit the possibility that they might be wrong. They absolutely knew that they were right, which made any discussion pointless. In most theist-atheist arguments, I see this attitude on both sides.
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18-08-2014, 03:26 PM
RE: How To Not Sound Like an Asshole
I don't think I've had trouble not being condescending. Using "I" statements instead of declarative statements helps IMO.

Think of the difference between saying:
"No, you are wrong. Here is why..."
and
"Well, I'm not convinced that is true. Here is what I think."

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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