Instead, let’s talk about how to hurl criticism and hide behind the rock so no one knows it was you.
There’s a lanky line between criticism and being an insufferable jackass. Occasionally, we cross that line like it’s the tape at the end of a 100-meter dash.
Let’s admit: people can be annoying. Especially the regular ones like dad and mom and brother and the girl/boyfriend. The Internet has a special place at the heart of criticism too. Together, they form the perfect crucible for an erupting volcano of fuming rock-spitting vitriol.
We have been told criticism has its advantages and it inspires people to improve and change and stuff. Bullshit. All of this is a rationalization for our inability to have a mature conversation.
Constructive criticism is just another name for behaving like a grown up. Nothing about it is constructive in as much as you trying to back your critical commentary with some knowledge most of which you just looked up.
The criticism most often can become an entitled escape. It’s what psychology refers to as defence mechanism. One infamous defence is called projection.
Projection is you over-compensating for some weakness of yours by criticizing other people for displaying the same weakness. Externalizing the weakness makes you believe the real problem is people around you while you are the baller that’s changing lives by telling them how stupid they are.
Think of it as becoming the ass around other people’s pain.
This behaviour is what social media regularly draws flak for. Because it can turn very toxic.
Instead of making us feel less alone about our weaknesses, it makes us feel more unique and special by giving us a space to project all our insecurities onto everyone else.
If you are afraid to speak in public, you will sneer at everyone attempting to do just that. If you are a shitty writer, you will call everything you read dross. If you don’t have an eye for art, everything will look like something even a child could have painted. If you don’t understand economics, you will call every entrepreneur a sleazeball trying to steal everyone’s money.
We use criticism to gain a sense of having done a lot with our life. Because we are all too afraid to confront the fact that we may have done pretty much nothing all along.
This doesn’t mean you wait until you become a flawless fab before you criticize. It means you come at criticism from a place of empathy rather than escape.
For a long time, I would look at art and sneer. “Even a child could’ve painted this shit.”
It’s only after I started writing did I understand how much effort and emotion goes into creating something.
I was just escaping the fact that I hadn’t stuck to a single creative endeavour for the most part of my life. So, anything that took years of practice and effort became a source of ridicule.
Understanding criticism is important now because a new disease is breaking out: Self-criticism.
While it may seem innocuous and a recipe for improvement even, it’s more toxic than other-criticism.
It’s a deeper escape. A superficial form of suffering. And in a way, it only adds steam to criticizing everyone else.
Because here’s another psychological truth: how you treat yourself is also how you treat everyone around you.
If you hold yourself to perfection, you are going to lose your shit over the slightest mistake anyone makes.
If you constantly admonish yourself for over how you look or how much you weigh or how supremely and vastly dumb you are, each of this will become your metric to judge and criticize everyone else.
Criticism isn’t a skill. There’s no script. Criticism is an emotion.
And it tells you a lot about yourself. It’s a vital component for emotional stability. Arriving at criticism through escape, sadism and self-importance is for intolerable delusional nutjobs.
Authenticity, empathy and curiosity are what drive a discourse forward. They make a critique useful. And they help you get out of your own head.
Because, here’s something you should know before you criticise: Everyone’s trying really hard. Even you, stupid face.