i haven't posted on this site in a very long time but as the new year starts i fell the need to find out if I'm alone in this feeling .... and try to do something to change it. 

I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I use to go to a couple of different atheist meet-up groups, but i stopped because some of the bay area "leaders" of these meet up groups were off putting and made it seem that if you wanted to participate or engage in a discussion within"their group" you had to have at least a Bachelors degree (and/or working on a masters) in some hard science. it was very segregated and condescending.  my question is, have others dealt with the same feeling?  how deal with it? 

thanks for your time. 

Tags: Area, Bay, Francisco, San

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I experienced some of that feeling in a few places in AN, and I just avoid those people. I meet that kind everywhere and I think they want to impress you with their ´importance´ because they haven't outgrown their fears and frustrations. Discussing with them doesn't help because they're so self-centered that they cannot handle an honest discussion. There are lots of other people here! 

I did encounter a haughty attitude from several people in a local atheist group.  My take on it is, being an atheist is pretty much ok around here - so people who feel the need to seek a group oriented around it, are messed up.  In places where there's a lot of prejudice against atheists, that wouldn't be true.  I don't find A/N to be haughty, but many members are here because there's prejudice against atheists where they live. 

Never having gone to an atheist 'meet up' group, I have no personal experience with that. However, I don't think that we, as atheists, are immune from the normal social constructs that affect all other groups of humans.  I'm of the opinion that in many, if not all, groups or communities that gather together for a specific purpose, you will encounter cliques - those individuals who interact more intensely with certain others, and tend to shun others in the group. I suspect this is true for the Boy Scouts, churches, fraternal organizations such as the Moose, VFW, Elks, American Legion, Eagles, etc. I'm reminded of the words of George Orwell in Animal Farm. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."  At the end of the day, atheists groups (other than their espoused purpose) are no different from any other human groups in their social patterns. We can be jerks, just like everyone else.

Right on Pat.  One can find good and bad no matter where one looks.

I agree, thoughtful response.

Excellent response Pat. Sean, I think most xtians see us atheists in a similar light; uppity intelligentsia, which I take (coming from xtians) as a compliment. 

Sean, it's a shame there is attitude in your local groups.  To me the most important function of a meetup group is to find like minded people, while at the same time exposing oneself to diverse experiences, personalities, and talents.  And to feel, not alone.

At my local meetup group, at the start, I felt a great sense of belonging.  I looked forward to the meetings each month.  It was some distance away, and took some effort to get there, but I did anyway.  Then a couple of outspoken members basically took over, changed it from fellowship and social interaction to some sort of official structured meeting, and it went downhill for me.  SIde conversations were shut off, and I felt especially there was some condensention or exclusion.  

So I quit going.  I wish there was a group.  I feel the need for fellowship.  Recently, I looked online on the meetup to see what was going on, and saw one of the "leaders" has left the area, but the main one who instituted the shutting off of conversations, seems to be in a leadership role.  So I am not going.

Here it was not an educational exclusion.  It did feel like there was something else.  Hard to say.  But given that my entire motivation was fellowship, and I offered both my house and some money to assure the group continued existence, without any strings at all, it felt like a big loss to me not to go.

In the year since I quit going, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had surgery, and am on medication that takes a major toll.  The workplace is a difficult challenge.  And there have been joys, too.  At the last meeting I attended, I was having a conversation - on the sideline - and someone asked me about getting married, and I said yes, we did get married.  The new group "leader" told me to be quiet, there were other important things said.  I wasn't loud, and it was a side conversation, and not intrusive.  I would feel a sense of belonging, just to share the joys and challenges of life, and hear the same of others, but that group is not it.

My family is dead.  I don't have many in-person friends.  Going to the group, I felt much less isolated.  For a while.   It's too bad.  It can't be all things to all people, and I was not one of the "insiders", so that's that.

I hope you can give it a different chance or find another outlet that will help meet your need.  You are there to belong not to be condescended to.  I hope the pompous types will move on and let others belong, or new groups will form to fill that gap for you.

I said yes, we did get married.  The new group "leader" told me to be quiet, there were other important things said.

Yuck!  So often when people try to control situations, they get overzealous about it and end up stepping on others.  Give someone someone petty power, who doesn't otherwise have power, and they use the petty power to vent their aggressions on people. 

SB, that sucks that a "grown-up" would tell you to be quiet!!  That's awesome you got married! :)  I have often felt like an outsider in different groups because I married at 20, never finished my college degree, and was a stay-at-home Mom.  I regret not finishing, but I was smarter than most of the people that tried to make me feel "less than."  I have certainly never stopped educating myself, and I also don't have invisible friends.

You are an "insider" here!

Thanks Daniel! {{{cyber-hug}}}

Just glad there is AN.  If there was a way to teleport people together once a month....  but I'm not greedy!  Folks here make a huge difference, and I'm very grateful for that!

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