Information Tech and the Humanist Movement

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Many older people seem suspicious of computers and the Internet, considering it only relevant to the young and economically active, games, travel information, buying tickets & trading on-line, not to mention pornography. It is as though the invention of the printing press had been dismissed as only useful to produce comics, tabloid papers, junk mail and other trash. 

Others unfortunately, advancing their own capability in using the medium, have not thought to help others to take up and see the advantages. Some useful work has been and is being done by a few people, but we have not been in the vanguard of what could be for us especially a truly spectacular advance. 

I do not think that the impact of the Internet can be overestimated in two vital areas, both central to the theory and practice of the Humanist/Secularist movement. 

The first is that it frees us from the chronic low level censorship, self-censorship and disinformation practiced in the media, and costs involved in advertising, which has hindered our views being communicated to the public, and largely prevented Humanist and Secularist ideas being part of public debate on the many issues on which we should be heard. We have long complained that there are thousands of humanists and secularists ‘out there’ who do not know of the existence of our organizations. It is only by dint of persistence and effectiveness that we have had the impact we have had relative to our numerical membership. 

Now we are no longer beholden to the ‘gatekeepers” of the traditional media, press, radio and television, advertising & publishing industries. Anyone can take part in any debate at whatever level they choose. 

Communication and promotion of ideas and action are no longer the special preserve of an elite of ‘special people’ – ‘writers’, ‘authors’, ‘broadcasters’, ‘journalists’, ‘publishers’ or ‘editors’ . 

In addition, both in public relations and our own activities, we no longer need to be hampered by lack of resources, especially public premises meeting places, paid activists & the other traditional assets of organized religion in our attempts to explain our views and activities. 

Even within our own movement we have greater freedom to converse with others and discuss, lobby and campaign on topics that interest us. Those who do not want to attend meeting can keep in touch as and when they like at any level they choose (or will be able to when we all have the skills). For younger members & those with busy family and working lives that leave little time for outside interests & activities and older members who do not want to go out at night or do not live near to other humanists/secularists or groups. The ease of communication will make it more likely that anyone who wants to will be able to make contact and participate on issues or just for conversation. It may even persuade more people to join us as members. 

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