Sorry, the picture isn’t of real data. C’mon—we’re not that advanced here…
Modern Stoicism is really a “Web 2.0” phenomenon. Stoic online communities started forming almost as soon as the Internet was born (the New Stoa, for instance, dates to 1996)—finally, a rare breed of Stoic enthusiasts separated by vast geographic distances could start connecting with each other. The potent combination of social media and a few highly publicized books and articles, however, has recently launched Stoicism on an exponential growth curve.
As Stoicon and Stoic MeetUp groups begin to become more popular, and as projects like the Stoic Fellowship start trying to facilitate a more solid structure that helps a confederation of local communities thrive in real life, it may be that modern Stoicism will evolve into a worldwide flesh-and-blood organization of loosely-coupled units.
Until then, however, the fact remains that 21st-century Stoicism is almost entirely an online phenomenon. What follows is a brief sketch of the key landmarks in the landscape—I invite you to look into these groups, and see if you can’t make a new friend!
General Meeting Grounds
These are the big, bustling agoras, if you will, which serve as the primary way that the world’s Stoics meet each other and discuss philosophy and current events. You will find everyone from newbies and dilettantes to professional scholars and authors in these venues:
Stoicism Group (Facebook)
- Arguably the most important and influential gathering place for modern Stoics, run by prominent author Donald Robertson and frequented by Massimo Pigliucci (who posts his “Stoic meditation of the day” series here).
- A good feed to follow if you want to stay hooked up with Stoic Week, Stoicon, and Stoicism Today.
- What can I say—it’s Reddit! A diverse mix-mash of links and questions show up here. Some of the regulars are quite knowledgable in philosophy, but, Reddit being Reddit, there are no guarantees on what you might encounter!
- The r/Stoicism FAQ is an excellent document for newcomers.
The International Stoic Forum (Yahoo Groups)
- Discussion in mailing list format. Often home to intense long-form debates on Stoic doctrine.
Special Interest Groups
While the major meeting grounds above are the heart of the online Stoa, a number of smaller special-purpose groups have sprung up.
Some of these have arisen from doctrinal schisms in the larger groups (ex. over religion), but they also serve to help focus and amplify certain conversations that might otherwise get washed out by the diversity of the larger groups. Some people see these smaller groups as divisive, but I see them as a very healthy and productive development overall!
Stoics for Justice (Facebook)
- A group dedicated to facilitating Stoic ethical action. Major themes are Stoic-led activism, philanthropy, feminist/LGBTQ/race issues, as well as kindness, responsible time management, career decisions, family skills—anything touching on the virtues of Justice and Benevolence.
- I founded this group after Stoicon 2016, partly just as a space to emphasize the moral & virtue-ethics side of Stoicism, but also as part of a controversial effort to ensure that ethnic minorities and people with progressive political views feel at home in the Stoa.
Applying Stoicism (Facebook)
- Discussion focused on putting Stoicism into practice (as opposed to debating theory and texts).
- This group is run by Travis Hume, who recently shared his personal story in a Stoicism Today article.
Traditional Stoicism (Facebook)
- A group for contemporary Stoics who see Stoic theology as valuable—even essential—to philosophical practice. Frequented by members of the Society of Epictetus, the unifying theme is Providence: Providence as a bolstering component of Stoic ethical practice, and the Logos as an idea that is compatible with modern physics and cosmology.
- The group is run by Chris Fisher, whose website houses numerous essays explaining the Traditional Stoic world view. It was founded as a space for religious Stoics to develop ideas that are harder to discuss amidst the largely atheistic culture that dominates other major Stoic forums.
Stoic Christian (Facebook)
- A new group for practitioners of both Stoicism and Christianity to share their experiences and discuss the synergies between the two traditions.
Blogs are also an important part of the Stoic community—but they serve a slightly different role.
First, there are the big blogs—places where the Stoa’s most popular and influential leaders share their thoughts, and where a great deal of further conversation occurs in the comments. AFAIK these are the biggest fish:
- Stoicism Today (~3,200 followers): the online magazine of modern Stoicism, edited by Gregory Sadler and hosted by the University of Exeter. A selection of Stoicism Today articles are published in book form once a year—the third volume will soon be in the works.
- How to Be a Stoic (~1,600 followers): philosopher-scientist Massimo Pigliucci’s outlet for his (quite prolific) thoughts on Stoic theory and practice, paralleling his popular New York Times article and upcoming book by the same name.
- Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (~2,200 followers): an outlet for the periodic thoughts of psychotherapist Donald Robertson—author of the book by the same name.
- Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations (~1,400 followers): the blog of Jules Evans, author of the book by the same name. Jules take an unabashedly eclectic approach to philosophy, so his blog ranges over many topics.
- Meditations on Strategy and Life (~70,000 followers): the blog of bestselling author Ryan Holidy—it’s not exclusively devoted to Stoicism, but many people have been introduced to ancient philosophy through his work.
In addition to these great hubs of discourse, a great deal of interesting Stoic conversation takes place on smaller blogs. Several notable scholars and authors—such as Bill Irvine, John Sellars, and Gregory Sadler—have blogs of their own, for instance, even if they only update them occasionally.
I do want to give a shout-out to the thriving peewee blogosphere, however! There are quite a number of bloggers like me, with no Stoic books to our name, a small number of followers, and a limited sphere of influence. Meek as we may be, I think we learn a lot from each other! I’ve particularly enjoyed some posts by Kevin Patrick, Matt van Natta, and Chris Fisher, among others. A lot of these blogs are listed in the “blogs I follow” box on this site—I encourage you to check them out!
I’ve left out mention of the handful of podcasts and Twitter feeds that exist. Stoic podcast culture seems to be experiencing a lull at the moment (though Matt van Natta is still periodically producing episodes of Good Fortune, and Charmika Stewart did an episode on “Twerking with Virtue” this summer), and frankly Twitter confuses and terrifies me—so you’ll have to explore those worlds on your own!