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.