December 12, 2016

Thinking About Writing an Occasional Product Review

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By EditorE [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It is no secret that we have lost many great atheist blogs over the years as their authors have burned out, moved on, or realized that that they've said everything they have to say about atheism. We need more rational voices, not just those speaking about atheism but voices in every community and addressing every subject. One of the ways I have been able to keep going over the years is by trying new things and writing about subjects broader than atheism. Every now and then when I feel my motivation to write waning or I realize that I am getting somewhat bored with trying to think of something to say about atheism I haven't already said countless times, I experience a brief flash of insight that always seems to point me in the same direction: I should be writing more of the kind of posts I enjoy reading or that I find useful. It seems so obvious!

This is easier said than done, though, because the kind of posts I enjoy reading vary considerably depending on my mood, changing interests, and a host of other factors. There are days when I can't get enough political news and days when there mere thought of political news makes me feel sick. On the other hand, the sort of posts I find genuinely useful tends to be fairly stable. It hit me the other day that I find few things I read online more useful than decent product reviews of the sort that help me decide whether to buy something I've been considering.

But this is a blog focused on atheism, reason, freethought, skepticism, secularism, and the like. Aside from books on these topics that I rarely have time to read, what sort of products would fit? Maybe they don't have to fit. Maybe I should occasionally review products that have nothing to do with atheism or any of these topics just because they are things I own, use every day, and know well enough to provide the sort of review that might be helpful to others. And maybe writing such a review every once in awhile might lead people who would never think to search for content on atheism to encounter some.

Of course, there is always the question of why anyone would put any stock in what some random atheist blogger has to say about a product that has nothing to do with atheism. When one is seeking reviews, one usually seeks out sites that do nothing but review products in particular areas (e.g., tech gadgets, cooking appliances, cell phones, audio equipment) and are presumably authored by people who do little more than review such products. There is some truth to this; however, I have certainly enjoyed reading reviews written by people who were not professional reviewers and who did not come from sites specializing in the sort of product being reviewed. I have found many such reviews to be quite helpful, including some of those I have encountered on atheist blogs (e.g., Godless Mom's "Every Atheist Needs" series comes to mind).

Long-time readers may be aware that I have written a handful of brief product reviews over the years. These have included reviews of films, books, and other products, some of which did not have anything to do with atheism or related topics. What I have not done very often, however, is allow myself the flexibility to write reviews on a wider variety of products. I think it might be fun to write such a review every once in awhile, so I may have to give it a try. It is not something I see myself ever doing much of, but it seems like something that could be fun as an occasional diversion. And who knows, it might bring at least a person or two to an atheist blog who would not otherwise visit one.