The Community Drug of Choice: Popularity.

Outside of the raging drama mongering that happens amid the pagan and polytheistic communities, the actual discussions regarding the whole community shtick can get pretty intense. I’ve talked about it so often that I often feel like a broken record. However, the thing is that even though I may go on and on about it, and I may repeat myself ad nauseum about it, I really think these constant entries are going somewhere. More and more often, I am finding people who are agreeing with what myself and other boat paddlers have to say. More and more often, I am seeing newer faces reaching out with similar items to discuss as myself (and my fellow boat paddlers) on the topic. And more and more often, a shift in mentality and attitudes regarding community appears to be happening in the widespread pagan and polytheistic colonies. This is excellent. I think we’re finally making a breakthrough in the last year from “there is no community” to “there is the formation of an actual community.”

While quite often my topics tend to be regarding, more specifically, the Kemetic offshoot of the pagan umbrella, many of my words are reaching out to people beyond my specific sphere of influence. I am seeing pop culture pagans, Hellenics, Asatru, fae-specific, and various others harping on the same lack of community and what we can do to change it. As time goes by, just in the last year, I am finally beginning to see some very positive changes in many people and many peoples’ approaches to the desire for a community and what to do in order to foster that community. However, just because the changes are in the air and we seem to be beginning to get somewhere that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re over the slump we were in. On the contrary, the fact that these changes are finally making themselves known and felt means that we still have a long way to go. One of the things that I think we need to discuss is popularity.

I will admit to a certain bias against the whole popularity thing. I was never popular as a teenager. Point of fact, I was pretty universally disliked by many. While I still find myself quite puzzled by this to this day (I seemed to have been disliked from the get-go upon entering high school and didn’t actively cultivate a “fuck you” attitude until my sophomore year), I still have quite a bit of derision for many people who can qualify as “popular” in their various communities. If I get to know them on a personal basis, I tend to find my viewpoints change of them. I’ll admit it: I fall into the belief of those stereotypes for people who fall under that popular tagline. So, quite often, I will be absolutely surprised by the person behind the mask (as I would hope and assume happens to people who see me and instantly think, “loser,” about me) I believe they are wearing. However, one thing that I do find quite often with people who fall under the drug-like headiness of popularity is that they don’t really tend to do anything with it.

As a prime example, let’s take a look at the larger Tumblr pagan community.

There are many on Tumblr who are considered a type of elite caste among many of those who fall under the pagan umbrella and the more moderate polytheistic umbrella. Quite often, these are the users that are asked the most questions about various items. For whatever reason, they are given a type of popularity that could be easily conflated with the popular clique members we all remember from high school. I am not saying that they, in some instances, do not deserve this type of near idol worship. In many instances, they are quite knowledgeable in their particular fields and they are the best for answers in all manner of queries from magic to deities to divination to pop culture paganism. In each instance, quite often when even I have a question, I will scroll through these elite members’ blogs in the hopes for an answer to my [seemingly] silly question. Being people and having interests outside of their particular religious persuasion, quite often they will start posting items outside of religion, particularly in the most popular topic of Tumblr: social justice.

Even MacGyver is confused by this trend.

Even MacGyver is confused by this trend.

While I don’t feel that we should limit what we post on our blogs to simply everything relating to our religion and nothing else, I do find it quite interesting that these popular people are constantly going on about things that need some change and do very little else to see that change through. As popular people, they are looked up to and emulated. Their arguments against racism, cultural appropriation, rape culture, pro-choice, and other items are usually regurgitated all across the website. However, outside of screaming profanities or “bitching out” people who they feel are guilty of whatever particular social cause they feel strongly about, they don’t do anything else.

However, as popular faces among the Tumblr pagan community, they have the influence to do much more than complain about people who are guilty of X, Y, and Z. They have the power and the popularity to do things like letter writing campaigns to state representatives, starting petitions among like-minded individuals, and generally and actively attempting to make the changes they are so often complaining will never happen. While I’m not saying that starting these types of things isn’t going to immediately get people interested in actively working toward the changes they all are hoping to see, it will take as much hard work as the slowly, but surely growing desire for a community that isn’t full of a huge pile of rotten dicks.

But, appearances are everything and the appearances of those elite members seems to be this: they have a pretty face, some nice words, and they spew those aspects into the Internet ether. They do not use their popularity for good, but just sit around and let it boost up their egos.

Here’s the thing, if people like Galina Krasskova can openly infer that she has causes that she supports, then why in the world am I not seeing that with other elite people? I don’t even really like Ms. Krasskova, especially after the drama regarding the pop culture pagan debate. However, I have to admit that it’s a little interesting that she at least has gotten the clue about what to do with your popularity: use it for some good. While it’s possible that not everyone who visits her links page finds an active cause to work with or to donate to, those links at least are there for the offing. And while I didn’t find too many posts regarding the causes she has listed, there were some post regarding different political interests.

Why is it okay to whine and moan about misuse of things and not attempting to assist or make changes? Why is it impossible for people to step away from the computer and go to a protest? How come we are more interested in pointing out where people are wrong and not in trying to make the changes throughout the nation so that those people who are wrong become fewer and fewer?

I’ll tell you what. I’m not popular in the pagan umbrella and I think my page counter is completely wrong. Be that as it may, I am also guilty of not mentioning (here) about the active causes that I support. I will tell you what I do, however, in order to effect the change that I want to see. I donate blood every three months. I use Planned Parenthood for all of my heath services. I donate money when I can. I stay up all night watching a gutsy Texas senator attempt a filibuster. I donate my junked cars to children’s cancer societies. I sign petitions for pro-choice items. I give clothes to a place affiliated with a battered women shelter. I would go to rallies if they had them in my half of the state and if I buy a new car, one day, I hope I can make it to one in Boston. I vote for people who have my interests. I donate food items and money (if possible) to my local, no-kill shelters. I do spells and pray against the conservative GOP. I’m hoping to (one day) open up a rape survivor support group for women and men to have a safe place. I post news links on my Facebook feed and on my Tumblr feed in the hopes that someone else will see what is going on in the world at large and in our country, take up another pitch fork alongside mine, and go to town.

I don’t have the clout some of these other BNPs and Tumblr elite have, but I do what I can, when I can, to help facilitate the changes that I want to see in the world my son will be growing up in.

And just as a reminder, even the both loved and hated Ke$ha uses her popularity for something other than singing about having some fun.

11 thoughts on “The Community Drug of Choice: Popularity.

  1. Yes, a great post. I truly wish that some people would evolve past answering the calls to ‘help me with this spell’ or ‘help me with this curse’… would be nice to see some real good happen with the energy that is invested in their personality. Social justice vitriol on Tumblr goes nowhere and seems to achieve almost nothing. Also good cause for me to think about where I invest my energy… it has been on my radar for a while but this is more prodding. Thanks again.

    • You’re welcome!

      I’m all for ranting and raving. I do it quite often, as this blog shows. But I think it’s very important to also use the energy that you get from those rants for something other than just spewing out words. I can talk a good game about all the things I care about – like PP – but if I don’t even use them for my health services? Why bother? By using them, I’m more aware of what in the world I’d lose if they were ever defunded where I live.

  2. I wonder if some of the people in question are like me, and just fairly circumspect about posting about what they do offline? Most of my social justice work is UU-oriented; our congregation recently did a counter protest of the Westboro Baptist Church, we maintain a food pantry, we have protested large grocery chains who don’t pay fair wages to migrant workers, and we did a fundraiser for a local pagan who had a fire and lost his belongings. We do things regularly. I have my CUUPs group linked on my main blog and if a reader wants to know we’re up to, the info is there.

    That said, I do post stuff that is Pagan specific, like the Grey Ghosthawk benefit because it’s my perception that readers would care more about that than the general UU stuff.

    • Regarding the Tumblr crowd, I seriously doubt it. Someone mentioned anonymity and I have to admit this seemed sort of plausible, however it’s possible to remain relatively anonymous online while I’ll also posting about things that matter to you. I do it all the time.

      I know a lot of pagans who are associated with UU, so you may want to rethink that.

  3. I am incredibly suspicious of the Tumblr Pagan SJ crowd. Not because social justice is bad, but because it’s the easiest way to gain followers, especially the louder and meaner you are. The most outspoken SJ Pagans and witches also spread /more/ misinformation about what social justice, racism, and appropriation are than help, and too often it’s really just an excuse to yell at someone. (Don’t even get me started on how ‘tone policing’ has been completely stolen by the community and is consistently misused.) I really only realized that /after/ leaving the popular crowd though, a move which I’m thankful I made. It’s waaaay too easy to buy into that excitement that goes with being popular and feeling like you’re ‘doing good’ even when all you’re doing is yelling at someone on the internet.

    There’s also an interesting clique nature to the Pagan and witchy SJ crowd…which I think makes people more likely to talk about the issues but not actually – educate themselves off of tumblr about social justice or actually take steps to enact change. Getting out and doing activism of some kind, even just donating money, takes the focus of the individuals, which….well, I’m jaded, but it doesn’t seem like doing activism and making change are the actual goals on a lot of tumblogs who talk about sj.

    • I had no idea about social justice, honestly, before I ended up on Tumblr. I paid attention to some news items – Trayvon Martin trial, for instance – but I never really knew what the hell it was until I saw Tumblr in action. Then I actually looked up what it was and realized that what Tumblr does and what reality is are two very different things.

      (I commented about tone policing in one of my replies on Tumblr. Heh.)

      I’m jaded, but it doesn’t seem like doing activism and making change are the actual goals on a lot of tumblogs who talk about sj. That is exactly my thoughts on it. I hate that I have to even think about it that way, but it’s frankly the only thing that comes to mind more often than not. Considering everything the majority of SJ blogs do to people who they deem guilty, I have to assume that they don’t take into consideration what they could do outside of the environment.

      I’m all for being introverted and being online all the time. However, some times, you need to walk away and do something outside of the Internet.

      • I’m trying not to laugh at the person who reblogged your post with the ‘tone policing’ comment because of sooooo many reasons. (Biggest being that they’re a perfect example of the problems discussed in this post and that they harass anyone that disagrees with them…)

  4. I’m inclined to say Eddie has the right with a fair portion of it.

    The other thing is that some of the people who are popular weren’t seeking it and some of them pretty clearly don’t want it. Being popular on somewhere like tumblr is pretty easy, as Eddie said, but that doesn’t automatically translate in some people’s brains to having influence to change shit…

    And those that do? Why would they want to change a system that effectively supports them?

  5. I rather enjoyed this, doll. I don’t even know or care what’s going on most of the time — I’d rather get a chuckle or a smile out of someone reading my blog ***first***, then second maybe have them take something from it to apply to their day/communing w/their personal pantheon/etcetcetc, than I would have someone even remember my name. Communing with, and commiserating with others as well as LEARNING from them is the whole reason I started blogging in the first place. I don’t know where this big spurt in ‘Tumblr Paganism’ even came from — out of all of the places I feed my written word into (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Google+, Blogger, etc) — Tumblr is the least reputable for information, in my humble opinion. It was always ever moreso just for the fun side of my research and exploration into Kemeticism/Hellenism. Either way, I hope that those who are seeking to be popular can back up the reasons as to why they are so popular / a BNP via the ever-tightening circles of our online Pagan communities. And by “back up,” I mean actually walk the walk that accompanies their talk – by spreading valid information based on their studies and actual experiences via their gods! ;)

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