Being a skeptic can be overwhelming, especially when you’re a skeptic who wants to make things happen. You want to fix the world, but there’s so much to fix, and there’s only one you and there’s so many of them. Cancer quacks, anti-vaxxers, psychics, ghost hunters, Oprah, Republicans, your mother-in-law… where do you even start? Some days, I’m burnt out before I’ve even turned on my Keurig.
For years, my whole life was non-stop full-on full-frontal all-day everyday skepticism. These days, it’s less… intense. I’m still skeptical. I still do skeptical work. But I’ve had to put energy into other things… like not being such an annoying told-ya-so pedantic asshole about everything. And finding things in life to enjoy (which I am admittedly terrible at, so in an attempt to put off enjoying life, I started running, which is like the best way to avoid enjoying anything while still getting to be annoying and pretentious to everyone around you. It’s a lot like skeptical evangelism, but with a lower resting heart rate.) I stopped bingeing on skeptic blogs and podcasts, and started watching more TV.
I’m also working on plans to do more skeptical outreach beyond our community and have other skeptically tangential projects I’d like to get started on. Thinking about skepticism in a bigger picture, as something that’s a part of my life instead of my life is helping me to burn out on it altogether. I can’t not be a skeptic. I can’t not want to change the world. But I can figure out ways to do both without being overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be done in the world (and, honestly, all the work that needs to be done within our community.)
How do you stave off burn out in the things you do? Do you have a strong passion for Skepticism (big S)? Or are you more of a passive skeptic (little s)? Do you want to see more people doing more skeptical work? Do you want to see more skepticism in the work you already do? If you could immunize one person from skeptical burnout, who would it be? And can you bring me another cup of coffee? I left the Keurig on, so it’s not a big deal.
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.