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Getting older March 9, 2013

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, friends, issues.
3 comments

All throughout my youth, I dreamed of becoming a writer. I wrote all the time, about everything. I watched TV shows and ranted along with the curmudgeons on Television Without Pity about what each show did wrong, convincing myself that I could do a better job. I flew to America with a dream in my pocket: I’d study Dramatic Writing at NYU (because Philip Seymour Hoffman went there!) and become a television writer. I knew I could do it; all I had to do was want it badly enough.

Then I got to America, and found that there were millions of other people who were better writers than me. I realized I wasn’t a great writer after all, just an OK one. So I stopped writing.

It sounds a little sad — I’m sure it’d break the heart and hubris of my 17-year-old self — but I’m okay with it. It’s part of getting older. I’m thankful to be able to both recognize my limitations and accept them. Sure, it’s a little scary to suddenly not have a clear idea of what I want to do anymore, but part of growing up is learning about myself through experience.

I reread old blog entries on occasion, and I cringe a little (so much anger and drama and rambling in my teenage heart!), but I’m still proud of it. I’m glad I managed to capture the emotions in the eye of the storm, to document every moment of rejection from my parents. I’m only sorry I ran out of things to say, and sorry that I still have letters from teenage atheists out there that I haven’t responded to. When I stopped writing, I also stopped writing back.

So, teens and teens-at-heart who still check this dead blog, I’d like to tell you a bit of I learned in the process of getting older. I’m not much older, at 23, but I’m old enough to finally understand that there’s not really a point in life where I will be right about everything. (Don’t tell my 17-year-old self that.)

Things I Know Now:

  1. I can’t tell you if you should come out to your parents or not. But if you suspect your parents will lose their shit, there’s no shame in waiting until you’ve moved out to tell them. You’re not a coward, you’re their child and you shouldn’t have to deal with that conflict and potential abuse if you don’t feel prepared to handle it. Besides, it’s not like you were honest with them about your discovery of porn.
  2. If you’ve already told them, or if they found out, and they’re not handling it well, stay calm. If they try to throw every argument in the book at you, keep this response handy and repeat as necessary: “I’ve made my decision, and I am happy with it.”  If they object right away, say, “That is your opinion. But I’ve made my decision, and I’m happy with it.” The calmer you are when you say this, the more effective it’ll be.
  3. Google is a useful tool. Read more about atheism. Look up forums and discussion groups where you can talk with and befriend fellow atheists, and laugh with them about how shitty your parents are being. Sometimes it helps just knowing you’re not alone.
  4. Being part of the atheist online community is a great way to befriend people of all age groups, which is an experience I recommend for all teens. Now, a lot of older people will either insist or imply that they know better than you. They’re not all right, but they’re not all wrong either.
  5. Telling your friends can be nerve-wracking, but that first time you find a friend who reacts with just, “OK” — it’s a pretty awesome moment.  (And “Me too!” is even better!)
  6. Sometimes you’ll have friends who don’t agree with you. That’s fine — it’s pretty hard to make friends if you refuse to talk to anyone who isn’t an atheist. Just appreciate what you have in common with them, and accept that even if they’re wrong, they will never let you convince them that they’re wrong. I had a Republican roommate for a year, and the reason we got along well is because we never talked about politics. (Also, she owned the apartment, and cut me a HUGE break on rent. Good people.)
  7. That said, you can be a little choosier when it comes to who you date. I’ve found OKCupid to be a great way to meet fellow atheists, but don’t make an account if you’re not 18 yet!
  8. If you really have to, here are some questions you can ask a believer if you feel like being a smartass.
  9. In your teens it feels like your atheism is the biggest part of your identity because you have to defend it so often, but there will come a day where it’s just another part of your life. It gets better.
  10. You don’t know everything. You will never know everything. But keep learning anyway.
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Ask Teen Atheist #6 September 4, 2010

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, issues.
5 comments

Chadwell writes:

I’m a 16 year old in highschool and I guess my natural cynicism lead me to question the dogma and ignorance of religion. I was a christian but I just figured that why would god send the only salvation to man kind to a single area and practically turn his all-mighty back on the rest of the isolated world. More issues built up and I questioned more until I reached the point of atheism. I have been a self proclaimed atheist for a while now. However, I should just get to the problem I’m having. So my parents are relatively religious and always turn a blind eye to anything negative about religion. I “came out” to them two days ago and they literally laughed at me. They took nothing seriously and they said I would need to rely on my faith in god one day.

So whithout further ado, what should I do? (lol that rhymed) What should I say/do to prove to them I’m serious?

Though not all atheists had to go through the same thing I did (thankfully), I’ve been through enough to say this: it’s very, very difficult to make the religulous see our side of things. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s not worth the effort — at best, you get a fair debate, at worst you worsen the rift between yourself and the people you’re talking to.

In a situation like yours, I think the issue isn’t so much about how to convince them as it is about how to deal with them. Religious parents react in different ways upon finding out about their child’s atheism; I think you’re actually lucky your parents went for denial instead of anger, like my (estranged) parents did, but I understand how frustrating it is when your parents don’t take you seriously.

And this sounds stupidly simplistic of me, but: the best way to prove you’re serious is to be serious. As many a writing teacher would tell you, “Show, don’t tell.” You already know that your parents are likely to turn a deaf ear to anything you have to say in defense of your non-belief, so instead, be a living example of how you can be a sane, good and kind person even without God or Christianity in your life. Refine your motivations and your values system. Donate to charity because you like helping others. Study hard because you want to succeed. Don’t hurt or steal because you genuinely believe that such acts are wrong because they violate basic human rights. Be nice to other people, including your parents. That way, if your parents ever start coming at you with attacks on your beliefs, you can defend it through real-life examples.

It’s still possible that no matter how well you live your life, your parents will still refuse to show any modicum of respect or tolerance for your beliefs. My estranged parents still see my atheism as a personal failure on their part. (They failed me in countless ways, but atheism wasn’t one of those.) But if you have a life you’re proud of and a belief system and values system you’re secure in, their approval won’t (and shouldn’t) matter to you anymore. You’ve risen above them. You take yourself seriously. And that’s what’s really important.

I’m sorry. I love you. December 11, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in friends, issues, teen angst.
20 comments

Heh, leave it to me to end a blog with a Shawn Michaels (a.k.a. HBK, uber-religious WWE Superstar) quote.

You have to know where the song ends. When you’re done telling your story. I think that time has come for me. I’ve written everything that needed sharing, and I believe it’s actually a good thing that I no longer have anything to whine or complain about in my usual, teenagery way.

Sometimes we just run out of things to say, and I think it’s okay to admit that.

I am completely grateful for having gotten to know all of you. Even if the interactions were limited to a keyboard and a screen, you have helped me so much through my darkest hours. And I feel wonderful that somehow, writing this has helped in the lives of some fellow teenage atheists, even if it is just to a very minor extent.

Do remember that just because I’ve stopped writing here doesn’t mean that Teenage Atheist has ceased to exist. You can always use the Contact page or e-mail me. Ask me about my life, tell me about yours. Ask me questions, recommend places to visit or books to read. I will write back. Whether it takes me five hours or five weeks, I’ll always go out of my way to respond to each and every one of you. It’s the least I could do.

So, in closing: Thank you, with all of my heart. Thank you, to the young freethinkers who wrote in to share their stories and ask for counsel; to the mature ones (I’ve maintained that older does not always mean wiser, but many of you are brilliant) who offered their advice and knowledge; to the witty ones who made me laugh; to the sympathetic and the empathetic ones who made me feel that I wasn’t hopeless. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

“So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough. And I will believe the same about you.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Love always,
Teen Atheist
teenatheist@rocketmail.com

“Atheist” =/= “Alien” October 10, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, friends, issues.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
14 comments

The workplace gives me a good bird’s eye view of how people in my country see atheists. There’s the weird “I was gonna tell you something but now I’m not because you might get offended” reaction, for one. And lately I’ve been more open about religion to more people. Luckily, the reaction’s not Bible Belt bad, it’s just an amusing sort of cluelessness. “What is this strange creature they call ‘atheist’?”

Gary (whom I now find really annoying and creepy): “Did you hear about the — oh wait, you’re an atheist…”
TA: “Dude, we’re not hateful misanthropes who can’t take a joke. I like Altar Boyz and the occasional Lifehouse song, and Judd Apatow anti-Semitism references. People act so weird around you once they know you’re an atheist.”
George (nebbish guy that I’m sort of crushing on): “You’re an atheist, TA?”
TA: “Er, yeah. You scared?”
George: “No, I just didn’t know.”
Anne: “Ah, your religion is atheist?” (to others) “Hey, TA’s religion is atheist!”

Like bald is a hair color, as many would say.

TA: “Just tell the damn joke already. I’m not easily offended.”
Gary: “So, there’s this very smart, atheist professor, who would challenge his class with arguments about how God does not exist…”
TA: (tries hard not to groan) “Does this involve a piece of chalk and whether or not it breaks?”
Gary: “Well, it’s an egg…”

Again, I’m not easily offended, but he had to pick the one joke that specifically targeted my beliefs and claimed that some stupid coincidence disproves everything I believe in? Somebody hand this guy the Idiot’s Guide to Interacting with People.

Bern: “Yeah, my girl and I are having some issues, especially when it comes to religion.” (note: he’s Catholic, she’s…some smaller sect of Christianity)
TA: “Heh, you said it. It’s doubly hard for people like me.”
Bern: “Why, what religion are you?”
TA: “I’m an atheist, actually.”
Bern: “Oh! Where’s your church located?”

So yeah, sometimes it’s easier to just not bother bringing it up, because it gets fairly tedious to have to spell everything out for everybody.

It still beats the Bible Belt, though. Better cluelessness than bigotry and hatred.

By the way, did I mention that Gary is really annoying and creepy? Have you ever experienced having a friend of the opposite sex, who you really want to tell to stop fucking touching you, but you can’t because you don’t wanna make it weird? I mean, it’s not like they’re caressing your tits or anything, but the constant touches on the shoulder or forearm, or high-fives are beginning to seriously piss you off because you’re just not a touchy-feely kind of person, except when it’s a serious, crying-your-eyes-out issue, or if it’s from someone you dig (like when George touches my hair, I totally don’t mind).

Luckily, Gary’s quitting next month, so I just have to keep my distance for a little longer.

Ask Teen Atheist, #4 September 22, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, issues.
Tags: , , , ,
8 comments

Curt asks:

When you say you like Unicorns, are you refering to unicorns in the mythical sense or the IPU?

I’m referring to unicorns primarily in the “cute cuddly illustrations you find on little girls’ pink Lisa Frank lunchboxes” sense. How can somebody not like unicorns? They’re so darn pretty! I’d always listed unicorns as my favorite animal. (Bunnies are a close second. EEE BUNNIES) I also like unicorns in the “Neil Patrick Harris’ shroom dream” sense. I can certainly appreciate the invisible pink variety, as well. They’re all beautiful!

Unicorns rock!

Unicorns rock!


[Credit: Perry Bible Fellowship]

Yes, my atheist life is this boring. August 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues, rants.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
26 comments

Excuses on why I haven’t posted in about a month now:

  1. Religion is no longer something I want to discuss with my parents. (However, I get more and more resentful that I have to sit and wait while they pray before dinner. At least I have breakfast and lunch elsewhere, and with co-workers who, while religious, don’t shove their beliefs in my face.)
  2. Workplace drama isn’t all that interesting. It’s mostly bitchy co-workers making rumors about me, like I’m fucking my married boss, et cetera. Tedious.
  3. I don’t have much time to go online, and when I do I’m usually feeding my crush on Steven Weber and Casey from Make Me a Supermodel. (He’s a Buddhist! He thinks that “the whole peace and love thing is, like…awesome”! Is it weird that I find that totally sexy?)

Now, I did mention that workplace drama isn’t all that blog-worthy, but I’ve experienced some new, weird reactions to my admitting my atheism.

Once, I was talking about a dire-but-funny situation with Gary, 36, and for some reason he asks…

Gary: “So, are you a Catholic or a Born Again Christian?”

TA: “Atheist, why?”

Gary: “Oh, never mind.”

TA: “No, really, why were you asking?”

Gary: “It’s nothing.”

Then just yesterday, I was walking home with Marc, 28, and we were talking about his close encounter with a different married boss whom he’s crushing on big-time.

Marc: “Are you a Catholic, or…?”

TA: “Atheist.”

Marc: “Oh okay, nevermind.”

TA: “Why?”

Marc: “No, I was just asking.”

It’s weird how they get eerily quiet about it, like there was a joke they wanted to tell you but they refrained from it because people of your “kind” probably wouldn’t get it. What does this reaction even mean? It’s good that they’re not going into some idiotic argument about how I should see the light or whatever, but are they scared to offend me now? I like offensive jokes as much as the next guy. Take this hilarious skit from Judd Apatow and friends.

…Man, I love me some Jews. (And Justin Long! Woohoo!)

On the tangent of interesting things I found on the Intarwebz, I’d been Googling Christian Bale since watching him in The Dark Knight (unpopular opinion: I liked Heath Ledger’s Joker, but my favorite performance in that movie was Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face). Much digging led to my discovery of a full recording of the less successful of Todd Haynes’ two rock-star-inspired films,Velvet Goldmine.

Now, the movie itself wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it was definitely interesting, and worth watching just for Ewan McGregor’s brilliant turn as the Iggy Pop avatar Curt Wild. He was a revelation! I’d been “eh” about him before, but after seeing the awesomeness that is Curt Wild, I am all over this boy. Plus, he’s one of the very few men who look hot in platinum blond hair and guyliner. Is anyone else as psyched to see I Love You Phillip Morris as I am?

Check out his rocktastic take on “TV Eye” (warning: NSFW!):

Velvet Goldmine had me as wistful as Christian Bale’s character in the movie, even though I wasn’t even alive in the 70’s. It was more centered around the sexual freedom of the era, which made me sad in realizing the truth: that we’d experienced a regression since then. Whatever happened to the days when being gay or bisexual was cool?

And then I get to thinking, was it easier to be an atheist back then, as well?

Interview with Teen Atheist July 20, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, issues.
Tags: , ,
6 comments

I’ve been interviewed by The Pakistani Spectator! Granted, I feel slightly less special because the questions were canned (take a gander at the other interviews and you’ll see what I mean), but it’s nice to be interviewed anyway.

Go check it out!

Ask Teen Atheist, #3 July 16, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, issues, teen angst.
Tags: , , , , ,
15 comments

Alissa writes:

Hey. Okay, so I recently found your website and was reading around and I really want to talk to you. I’m 13 years old and I’m in the 9th grade. I know, some may think thats really young but I know that I don’t believe in god and I think I may be an atheist. I went to church for a couple of years with my father and believed strongly in the Roman Catholic religion. I live with my mother and she is Christian but we don’t go to church and during that time period (when I believed in God), I asked my mom if we could go to church, but we never went. I started thinking more about the religion. It just doesn’t make sense at all and I disagree with just about everything in the religion. I recently told my mom and my 18 year old sister how I feel and they we’re shocked and confused. Naturally they wanted me to go to church A.S.A.P. It’s not going to help though. I have a friend that goes to church every Sunday, takes religion classes every Monday, and is going to a catholic school next year, but doesn’t believe in God. I took it to offense that they didn’t try and accept it and they tried to convert me instead. It turned into a fight. They are not taking me seriously, they think I don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it. I would just like your help as to what to say to them or what ever you think will help me.

Thank you.

I think it’s wonderful that at such a young age, you’ve found the intellectual bravery to question the religion you’d been indoctrinated in. It’s very rare, even among adults — they can question anything else (their credit card bill, their boyfriend, their college professor, their salary), but religion tends to be the “untouchable” topic for most people. So kudos, Alissa!

Sadly, your family’s reaction is very common, at least in my experience. I pretty much had to go through the same thing that you did, and even now, after almost a year, they still don’t really accept it. Even if your family is not the most devout, they’ll go on “You heathen! Repent nowwww” autopilot once they’ve discovered a threat to the foundation of their beliefs (read: your newfound atheism). The first thing they’re going to want to try to do is to convert you back in order to “correct” your “mistake.”

Of anybody you’re going to have to deal with about your atheism, your parents will be the most difficult hurdle because they will always see that part of you as a disappointment, as a failure on their part. The best that you can do is to reaffirm your belief in yourself. Don’t let what they say affect you. Don’t put so much power in their words. I know they’re your parents and they’re an important part of your life, but they can’t dictate who you are and what you can and can’t do. You already have a strong sense of self, Alissa — hold on to that.

“They think [you] don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it” is one of the first arguments my parents tried to throw my way. I directed them to an About.com page on atheism. It didn’t work, and beyond that, it got ugly. They’re really never going to listen, at least mine didn’t; the best I could hope for is their silence about it. Hopefully you’ll be luckier, and they’ll learn to accept your beliefs over time.

I also regret to inform you that since both you and I are teenagers, there are going to be a hell of a lot of people who won’t take us seriously, especially when it comes to things like this. Remind yourself: it’s NOT “just a phase.” You’re an individual, too, free to believe in whatever you want to believe. Surround yourself with friends who accept you for who you are, and adults who actually do take you seriously (perhaps a freethinking and openminded teacher, if you have one?). Also, the atheist web community is full of friendly, accepting people who would be more than glad to talk to you about your problems, and share their knowledge about atheism with you. When I was going through that big fight with my family after being outed by my brother as an atheist, a lot of the online atheists dropped by my blog and left encouraging words. Not only did I feel accepted, but I also learned a lot about my beliefs.

As for what to say to your family, I don’t think anything can change their mind about this, but you can at least assure them that nothing they say or do will convert you back, but despite your lack of belief in a god, you are still fundamentally a good person, and that you hope they still accept and love you as a daughter despite your differences.

I hope it turns out well! More power to you!

Wordy ruminations July 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in career, family, friends, issues, teen angst.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
4 comments

T.A. – sleep + unlimited internet access + 1 week paid leave = tedious, lengthy diatribe on “my thoughts, let me show you them.”

Taken from an e-mail exchange with Holy Prepuce:

If at some point in your upbringing you bought into the Catholic idea of a heaven or resurrection (i.e. that our conscious selves survive death and perhaps even live forever), was it difficult to come to terms with the loss of this belief?

It wasn’t difficult for me, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a very inquisitive and imaginative child, so even at a very young age, I’d read the Bible (Revelations was my favorite part; I’m weird that way) and think, “What if this is just really tedious fiction?” The more I thought about it over the years, the more absurd I found the whole concept. Virgin births, talking bushes, life after death? Really?

I remember going through a very difficult time when nobody in the house would even speak to me, and I thought, “Well, at least God’s there for me. If I just keep praying, He’ll help me through this.” I realized much, much later on that God wasn’t doing shit, because what help did he provide, other than maybe sitting there, hearing my prayer and going “Mm-hmm”? I pray, and nothing happens. Nothing’s ever happened my whole life that was a result of a strong faith. It wasn’t God that helped me through that time, it was my own imagination.

Religious leaders scare people into remaining faithful with talk of eternal damnation and other horrific consequences. And the more you devote to the religion, the more you want it to be real, because you grow increasingly reliant on it, and it does seem like such a nice concept. So, despite a lack of evidence that what they believe in is real, religious people don’t want to question it because they don’t want to open up another can of worms when the alternative, turning a blind eye, is so much easier, especially when everyone around you is just as blind as you are.

As for my Predominantly Catholic Country in general, most atheists here come to that realization in college (I have yet to meet anyone who was raised atheist over here!). For instance, Carl became an atheist in the middle of a college course dissecting creation versus evolution. I think this trend exists because in college, the power of influence shifts from the parents to the peers and teachers, so people start to consider all sorts of options — beliefs, orientations, what-have-you.

The whole “college self-discovery” thing is a transition I never experienced or had to experience, probably as a result of my poor relationship with my parents, my natural inquisitiveness, my rebellious nature, and a hefty dose of introspection.

In short, I’m really weird.

But it’s always seemed to me that denial of mortality was one of the primary motivators for religious belief, even in the face of strong contrary evidence for the claims made–so finally accepting that we are not immortal has to be one of the defining moments of a a theist’s “conversion” to atheism.

That’s definitely true for a lot of Catholics. My philosophy about it has always been, I want to live in the now, and live the way I want to. Why would I be banished to hell or thought of as an evil person or a bad follower if I decided to eat a cheeseburger in Lent? It’s my life, and that cheeseburger looks pretty damn tasty!

I find it to be a terrible waste of life not to enjoy yourself because you’re waiting for the next life, which God promises will be much better. I see my life the same way I see my job, I suppose: I don’t ever want to fall out of love with it. I don’t want to settle just because there’s going to be something better later on, because I don’t want to be looking for something better in the first place.

I found this wonderful quote from Lance Armstrong that sums it up pretty nicely: “Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whther I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.'”

Also, tell me about life as a teenage atheist in your country…

I’m getting more comfortable with it now, as compared to back in September when I started the blog. 🙂 I don’t proclaim my godlessness to everyone, but I can reply honestly to anyone who asks without even batting an eyelash. Reactions vary (it’s usually a polite smile, followed by a change of topic), though thankfully none as violent as my parents’ reaction. It’ll always be the pink elephant in the room with them. I wonder what it’ll be like when my brother goes to college… 😉

Atheism and debate June 22, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in issues, rants.
Tags: , , , , , ,
27 comments

“The more you stomp in poop, the more it stinks.”

Who thought I’d ever be quoting Billy Ray Cyrus, eh? It’s true, though, and it’s the best way to describe how I feel about responding to the anti-atheist comments I get here. Sometimes they’ll go all-out on their rage (“You’re going to hell!”) or be deceptively nice (“May you see the light someday”), but I treat them all the same way: I delete them.

It’s not as easy when you’re confronted with that kind of spammage in real life, though. If there’s one thing I learned after almost a whole year of being a “heathen” atheist, it’s that you have to walk around carrying an arsenal of proper responses to arguments that will be thrown at you from any angle. Atheism and debate walk hand-in-hand, or at least, debate is constantly humping atheism’s leg.

Here are the different debate tactics I’ve encountered so far:

1. The sanctimonious approach
Case in point: Tyler

“Your atheism is just a phase. You’re a good person, TA, I know you’ll come back to the light eventually.”

Insisting that you’re not in a dark place of any sort will only lead to the two of you running around in circles, so I just respond to this with a noncommittal nod and smile, followed by…

2. The change-of-topic
Case in point: Me

Tyler: “Why are you still an atheist?”
TA: “Oh, um…hey, the espresso brownie at Starbucks is really good, have you tried it? Come on, let’s go get one.”

If debate were a PlayStation (sorry guys, I’m loyal to Sony — wider game selection), this tactic would be the “reset” button. Yeah, I know, shame on me for taking the easy way out and wearing out that button like a motherfucker, but you’ve got to learn to pick your battles. Time is of the essence, and I’d rather waste it on other things than explaining why yes, I’m an atheist and no, I’m not Satan’s daughter.

3. The banishment
Case in point: CDT

CDT: “You were being condescending, blah blah blah.”
Me: “Are you kidding me? Here’s why your comments were completely condescending, and I just responded because I don’t tolerate that kind of asshattery around here.”
CDT: “…Satan has got a hold on you!”

Still the dumbest argument I’ve ever had (next to the ones with my mother), and the funny thing is that I’m pretty sure CDT still thinks he won.

4. The personal attack (closely related to #3)
Case in point: Fred

Fred: “I can’t believe you posted our whole debate on your blog and made me look like an idiot!”
TA: “I just quoted you verbatim, dude. I didn’t make you look like an idiot, you made yourself look like an idiot.”
Fred: “Oh yeah? Well, all of my friends think you’re an elitist bitch!”
TA: “…And? What does that have to do with anything?”
Fred: “You’re not offended?”
TA: “No. Should I be?”
Fred: “You’re not compelled to change your personality and be a better person? Wow. That’s kind of horrible.”

I couldn’t help laughing because Fred, who happens to be a bigger elitist and a far more abrasive and unlikable personality than I am, was OMG Morally Outraged (TM) that I wasn’t affected by that “revelation.” And the moment he lost his temper over that while I maintained my cool, I knew that I had won.

See, Fred’s a very predictable type of debater: if he knows he’s been backed into a corner, he’ll go right for the jugular and throw everything but the kitchen sink at you, even if it’s completely unrelated to the topic at hand. These debates are very easy to win. All you have to do is keep a straight face and remain calm and unaffected. They’ll go batty.

5. The non-sequitur
Case in point: Mother Dearest

“How can there not be a God, when I managed to get through all of these difficult times in my life? How can there not be a God, when this world is so beautifully complex? You can’t possibly believe that it came out of nowhere!”

It’s tough arguing with idiots. You can’t win, even when you win. Not to say that my mother is an idiot entirely, but you all know how she is when it comes to my atheism.

So, there you have it. TA’s Top 5 Encountered Debate Tactics. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to respond to the argument, or be a lazy bum like me and just press the “reset” button.