July 10, 2012

Character in the Atheist Blogosphere

CharacterI was thinking recently about the issue of character because some friends were arguing over whether a politician's character was more or less important than his or her policy positions. I tuned out rather quickly, as I've been experiencing some "politics fatigue" recently and figured I already knew where the conversation was heading. Instead of paying attention, I found myself thinking about the issue of character in the atheist community.

The Relevance of Character

The question I asked myself was whether my assessment of an atheist blogger's character was relevant to my enjoyment of his or her writing. I'm still not entirely sure that it should be relevant to me, but I think it is, at least to some degree.

Suppose I learned that one of my favorite atheist bloggers was an ass in real life. Would that detract from my enjoyment of the blog? Yes, I think it would. Would it lead me to cease my promotion of the blog? Not automatically, but it might.

Now suppose I learned an atheist blogger who tends to be a real ass on his or her blog was a fantastic person in real life. Would that make me more likely to enjoy the blog and/or to promote it? No, I don't think it would at all. In fact, it might make it even harder for me to enjoy the blog.

It seems like I do find character relevant in my attitudes toward an atheist blog, but its impact varies across different contexts.

Assessing Character

If the character of an atheist blogger is relevant, how do we assess it? For me, I think the main considerations are:
  • How does the blogger handle disagreement with his/her views?
  • Does the blogger admit not knowing everything?
  • Does the blogger make an effort to see things from other perspectives?

What do you think? Is the perceived character of the blogger relevant in what you read, and if so, what do you tend to look for?

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