Showing posts with label ex Mormons speak out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ex Mormons speak out. Show all posts

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Economics of Ex-Mormons Speaking Out

Blogger has an analytics section that tracks how people find this particular blog.  As a numbers/factoid geek, I like to keep an eye on these statistics.  Most of what I see is not surprising – most of the hits from this website are coming from ex-Mormon community forums. 
Other people find this blog through web-engine search queries.  The top search term that brings people to this blog is the search phrase “ex Mormons speak out”, followed by “feminist Mormon housewives”, and, more recently, the search term “ex Mormon blogs”. 
        A couple months ago, I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from a particular website called  As far as I can tell, this is a site that runs analytics on websites, positioning themselves as a way to keep track of the competition.  If you type in the address of a specific blog/website, you can access data on the search engine queries that bring in traffic. 
Being the inquisitive person that I am, I typed in my domain –  The results were both a surprise and not a surprise.  The top search queries that bring people to my blog are terms like “ex Mormon blogs”, “ex Mormons speak out”, “feminist Mormon housewives”, and “post Mormon”.  No surprise there.  According to this website, last month there were 206 entry points into this blog from search engine queries alone. 
But the surprising – and perhaps not so surprising – result was the amount of money spent on advertising for these search queries.  Every time you type a search query into Google, at the very top of the page is a yellow box with links inside.  These are the paid advertisements.  Depending on the specific search term, companies can either pay a little or a lot of money to have their links appear in that little yellow box. 

If I were to pay advertising fees in order to get those 206 entry points from search engine queries, the price-tag for that was quoted as $658.  That is a lot of money.  

At first, that number shocked me.  Then I thought about it and I realized that the top search queries that bring people to this blog are search terms like “ex Mormons speak out” and “ex Mormon blogs”.  Those are pretty loaded search queries.  There is also a very well-financed organization that really doesn’t want people thinking along those lines and is willing to pay a lot of money in order to put up competing links. 
What is the specific price of these advertisements?  The price for advertising on google through the search query “feminist Mormon housewives” is actually pretty low – only $0.10 per click.  On the other hand, the price-per-click for “ex Mormons speak out” – which is the number one search query that brings people to this blog – is quoted as $9.39.  The advertising rate for “ex Mormon blogs” is a staggering $11.44 per click, while “post Mormon” is a more modest $8.56 per click. 
I guess I was both surprised and not surprised by these results.  On some level, I knew that advertising, especially advertising for ex-Mormon related search queries, was probably coming at a stiff price.  I just never realized how stiff of a price it is. 
Looking at these results – at the sheer amount of money that is spent on pulling people away from my blog – I can’t help but think about the strange symbiosis that is going on here.  Friends and family members that I grew up with are paying tithing money into a system that is then turning around and running a heavily-financed advertising campaign that is, in part, paying a lot of money in order to cover up the results of search queries such as “ex Mormons speak out”, “post Mormon”, and “ex Mormon blogs”.  It's enough to make my head explode.  

Are my stories really that worrisome?  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Price Of Honesty: Why Ex-Mormons Keep Quiet About Their Lack Of Belief

          The Daily Beast recently published an article featuring an interview with Sue Emmett, who is the president of the ExMormon Foundation and the direct descendent of Brigham Young.  Sue talked about her experience as a Mormon woman with clarity, insight, and compassion.  I am grateful for Sue’s courage in going public with her experience as a Mormon woman.  
          For years, I have been standing by the sidelines, wanting to tell my Mormon story but too afraid to speak out.  I want my family to listen when I tell them who I am as a person.  In all the years since my exit, no one in my family has ever asked me what I believe in and what my values are.  No one has ever thought to ask why I left.  I remember the Mormon mindset very well - even the slightest hint of criticism felt like religious persecution.  And so I have been keeping quiet, out of love for my family.
          I have reached a point where I realize my silence is doing more harm than good.  Ex-Mormons keep quiet because we love the Mormons in our lives.  We keep quiet because we are afraid of what will happen to us and to our families if we speak out about our experiences.  We keep quiet because we do not want to face the condemnation of the people we once thought were our friends.  However, silence does not fix the problem - at best, silence is a temporary solution.  
          In the ten years since my exit, there has been some progress within my family.  My mother treats me with all of the love and affection that she treats her other children, although even my mother does not ask about my beliefs.  My love for my mother strengthens and balances me, soothing a broken heart.  My father has dampened his rage towards me.  I feel more comfortable with my identity as a liberal agnostic woman.
          But in other aspects, life has not gotten better.  One of my brothers has been treating my husband and me badly.  He makes snide comments about my husband’s ethnicity, cracking jokes about how all the Indians in this country either own Motel 8’s or 7-11’s.  We live three hours from my brother - in the three years since we moved to Texas, we have visited my brother a dozen times, during which he pokes fun at my husband’s vegetarianism, oblivious to the irony of mocking a Hindu’s dietary restrictions when as a Mormon he abstains from coffee, tea, and alcohol.  On the rare occasion he visits our home, he feels comfortable bringing meat with him, when my husband and I refrain from bringing coffee into his home.  And yet I have kept quiet about my brother’s behavior; I still do not feel that I am an equal within my own family.  I am still afraid of losing my family, as so many other ex-Mormons have lost theirs.
          I had a difficult exit process - I first started questioning Mormonism when I was fifteen and I stopped believing when I was sixteen, when I was still living under my parents’ roof.  I survived for two years by concealing my unbelief.  The pain of living a double life - exacerbated by the very negative reaction I got when I confided in a Mormon girl I thought was my life-long friend - drove me to the brink of suicide.  When I did leave, my decision was made harder by my mother’s heartbreak and my father’s rage.  
          Last year, I read the book “Heaven Up Here” by John Williams.  I was astonished by his honesty in chronicling his mission experience.  Although I never served a mission, I recognized much of his Mormon mentality in the young girl that I once was.  After reading his book, I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried, hiding my tears from the world.  I had started writing about my Mormon experience six months before, attacking the subject with an honesty that I never dreamed I could talk about publicly.  And here was a man, living in the heart of Utah, married to a faithful Mormon woman, who had the strength to leave the Mormon Church and then to write about the good, the bad, and the messiness of his experience with a candor that I had never seen before.  He gave me hope that I too could one day be as honest.  
          My family deals with my lack of belief through willful blindness.  And maybe this will never change.  But the burden of silence has been lifted.  I still don’t know what the full price of my honesty may be.  But the freedom is worth the price.