5 Lessons from Skepticon 8

12208663_10100617167903536_4194327949771437007_nIt’s Sunday night, and that means that Skepticon has wrapped up. While the talks have been entertaining and informational, I can’t help but think that the biggest lessons have been expressed indirectly.

1. Language is important; words mean things. Part of being inclusive means learning and using the correct terminology when discussing issues and concerns. It is counterproductive to say that you’re a supporter of the transgender community, but then not take the time to learn basic respectful terminology. Come on – atheists and skeptics spend tons of time on the internet doing research and arguing with theists; you could take ten minutes online and learn how to have a respectful discussion. On the same note of words meaning things, it’s important to advertise things correctly. If you say something is a Q & A, but you don’t have any intention of actually answering any questions, people are going to be upset, particularly when the topic is controversial.

2. Using your status to help someone share their story is a good thing, but not when the someone that you give a platform to uses it to bring down others. An educated, straight, white, cis male is not someone who needs a hand up, particularly one who is going to use the microphone you give him to deliver a questionable message.

3. It’s okay to take breaks from adulting. Play Nerf games, paint a dinosaur picture, or go to prom and shake it on the dance floor with Baphomet and a dinosaur. Let loose, have some fun; life is short.

4. Dinosaurs are fucking awesome. Okay I already knew that, but Skepticon reinforces that idea. There should really be more dinosaur themed things in the world.

5. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead. The organizers of Skepticon are awesome sauce, and deliver a great conference and do good things in the world. We need more of that.

Skepticon is our last conference of the year, and it’s a good one to end on. No pressure, no responsibilities; it’s affordable and fun and now it’s not even that long of a drive. It’s heavy on social justice issues, and while I sat through talks yesterday it became increasingly clear to me that without the social justice aspect, I have little interest in so-called atheist issues. I couldn’t care less about arguing the existence of a god, or concerning myself with what theists do unless it infringes on the rights of or harms someone. It just doesn’t matter to me, but what does matter is people, and that is what fuels my activism.