This is a blog all just for me. It has no purpose whatsoever except for me to share some of the random nonsense I happen to be thinking about in my day-to-day life. Sometimes it sure is nice not to have a purpose.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One Critical World

Maybe it's because times are so bad lately with the economy and so people are stressed out and feeling defensive about protecting their own personal interests. Maybe it's because "critical thinking" and the "ability to question" are touchstone elements advertised as evidence of high intelligence. Or, perhaps it's because of reality shows and their "voting off the island" and "Simon Cowell" effects. Whatever the case may be, I am feeling overwhelmed by the constant barrage of criticism I see being doled out both in professional and personal settings.

Last night, for example, my husband and I were watching Jon and Kate Plus 8 since it is one of my favorite shows. My husband asked if I had heard about Jon's possible infidelity-exploits and so I poked around on the Web to get more information. One of the top hits I found was a blog entirely dedicated to criticizing the Gosselin family. On the one hand I found the blog very entertaining, but on the other hand, I was disturbed by the audacity that people have to so easily judge others without any accountability of their own.

Somewhere along the way, it has become socially acceptable for people to constantly criticize others. I agree that people have a fundamental right to their own opinions and a right to express those opinions. I think that people have a responsibility to question the status quo so that we are not just mindless followers. And, I would fear living in a society that did not allow people to freely criticize those in power. But, at the same time, I feel that the onus of responsibility should fall on the criticizer as much as it falls on the criticized.

It is easy, for example, to criticize one's government for many things, but what are we as individuals doing ourselves? It is easy for outsiders to question another's parenting choices, but have they walked a day in that person's shoes? Yes, we can express our disgust about how horrible we think a movie or the latest video game is, but do we ever stop to consider how much work and effort went into the endeavor? Also, with the advent of technology, criticism is all too easy to make from a distance and often anonymously. As a result, people aren't even held accountable at a minimum for making statements and standing behind them. People can talk, or type as the case may be, to their heart's delight, causing pain to others without having to face and accept responsibility for the pain that they have inflicted. It is this new level of insensitivity, negativity, and detachment that frightens me.

Again, I am not saying that people should not have the right to speak their mind. In fact, I myself am guilty of being critical right now--I'm being critical of critical people! All I'm feeling is that the culture of criticism has grown out of control. I yearn for a community that aims to support fellow members rather than just tear them down, for constructive criticism to truly be constructive rather than destructive, and for sensitivity to be valued over snarkiness. All I want to know is: why is it not only acceptable, but even "cool" now to be a hater?

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