By Marion Kilgour, Director
The SEA started as a face-to-face Meet-Up group. We would sit around a table and talk about ideas, and problems, and generally interesting things. There was enough interest, that we thought we should be more public and accessible.
We sometimes get people who think that the Facebook page is the main achievement of the SEA, and the rest of our activities are window dressing.
Well, they’re not.
To explain why, I’ll refer you to this recent post in Scientific American about why the people on the internet seem so angry, and why it’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, the Facebook group is great. It introduces our group to a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise know about us, and can ease the discomfort that a lot of us feel at going to a meeting with a lot of strangers. But it has downsides: the discussions can get ugly quick, you can’t get into the depth that you can face to face, and it’s easy to get angry and storm away.
Facebook, and the internet in general, are such a tiny part of what we’re trying to build. You can see it in our name: Society of Edmonton Atheists. We want people to get to know each other face to face, to feel comfortable having their kids play together, to call someone else up when their car broke and they need a lift. We want our members to be part of the sort of group that can take on difficult questions or challenges, and still be friends (or at least civil acquaintances) afterward.
This group is about many things, and different things to different people. Our current mission statement focuses on “discussion, constructive activism, education and philanthropy.” But, in order to be effective at any of those, we need people to get to know each other, and that includes the people who aren’t on Facebook.
Our event attendance, and our membership, has grown dramatically in the last year, as has the variety of events that we hold. We’d like to encourage anyone who hasn’t come to an event to do so. And anyone who already has to introduce themselves directly to someone they haven’t met. If you can’t make it to our events, why not get in touch with a couple of the people you’ve been interacting with on Facebook and grab a coffee or meet up for a movie?
Help us to turn this in to the sort of group that you want to participate in, so that the next time someone asks you “Why do atheists want a club?” your answer is obvious. I know mine is.