You must learn how to criticise properly
Too many people do not criticise well. Now, don’t start saying “well, we shouldn’t criticise at all” – totally, we should criticise! But there’s a way to do it properly. (Yes, there is an ‘s’ in criticise.)
First Rule – never criticise the person. I don’t even care if it’s Hitler, let alone Newt Gingrich or Margaret Thatcher.
DO NOT CRITICISE THE PERSON. The reason being, that even when you criticise the likes of Hitler, most of you can’t do it without using words I really don’t want on my page. I don’t even like hearing h@te or ev#l – I really don’t like them.
Second Rule – criticise as in “critique” – I shall explain after a few of my favourite criticisms… (Yes, there is a ‘u’ in favourite.)
Third Rule – do NOT repeat yourself – we read your comment the first time, the second time we started to think you were a little annoying, the third time we’re doing eye rolls, sighing, and hovering our index finger over the ‘delete’ button.
Imagine a post on my facebook page, at Sue Fitzmaurice, Author; let’s say a quote from Mark Twain – common enough…
#1 eye roll material: “I disagree with you.” It’s not MY quote! eye roll, sigh, eye roll…
#2 eye roll material: “I disagree.” If you can’t at least give me an interesting reason why, I DON’T CARE! eye roll, grrr, eye roll…
And please consider that – well, yes, of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but… when Einstein says “Imagination is more important than Knowledge” that it is reasonable to consider the possibility that unless you’ve done something as clever as discovering the Theory of Relativity, you MIGHT not have a particularly valuable criticism to make… yeah?
Most of the quotes I post are from the world’s cleverest, smartest, most creative, most successful-in-their-field people – TRY IT ON for size – they have something to say, that’s why I’m posting it…
#4 eye roll material: “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Delete comment.
#5 eye roll material: “You’re wrong.” See #1 and First Rule.
#6 eye roll material: some blather about free speech, the constitution of the United States, or censorship
I don’t believe in free speech if it’s hateful, inappropriately critical, off topic, personally targeted, etc. I am not a citizen of the United States nor do I actually give a toss about your constitution *shock, horror* Do you care about MY constitution? I didn’t think so. And I will delete whatever comments and individuals I choose to who break the rules of this page, which after all are just common courtesy. This page – and most of the world – is not a democracy. This page is a Monarchy, and I’m the Queen. I expect no more from anyone than I’d expect if you were invited into my home for tea, and if I don’t like your behaviour, I’ll be asking you to leave. (Yes, there is a ‘u’ in ‘behaviour’.)
#7 eye roll material: “God wants us to… …”
This should always be prefaced with “I believe”, as in “I believe God wants us to… …” Aside from expressing your beliefs as a belief and not a fact, please don’t ever claim to know the ‘mind’ of God – you are far too small and insignificant to know this. And for those I just KNOW will be wanting to disagree with this, please don’t. It’s not the main point of this blog, please just take it on board and move along… You cannot know the mind of God anymore than you can know the mind of another person – and indeed that would be a whole lot easier – and even then you’d have to say “I believe George wants us to… …” Get it?
#8 eye roll material: “This page is not what I thought it was – you are a brat (oh, yes, I’ve had that one – lovely) – there is nothing Godly about this page at all (did I claim there was?) – I’m un-liking you – I’m leaving this page … …” This is what this sounds like in my head – in the voice of a whiny child: “I’m not gonna be your friend anymore!!!” Do I look like I care?
I could go on and on and on… but I’m already giving myself a headache. THIS is how you disagree with, or criticise, something that’s appeared on YOUR newsfeed from MY page…
FIRSTLY – THINK! Have you really got a GOOD reason to say something critical – is your disagreement really that big a deal that it’s worth commenting for thousands of other people to see? Y’see… you think when you comment, that it’s mostly just you and me having an exchange – it’s not. a) it’s you, me and tends of thousands of others, and b) do you have ANY idea what it’s like reading petty disagreements from hundreds of other people in a day? Think about that… I’m really happy for you to disagree, but please MAKE IT WORTH MY WHILE. Make it intelligent, make it original, and above all, make it interesting. Criticisms that are not intelligent, original or interesting include any of those mentioned above, along with that you like the quote, but you don’t like the picture; or you like the picture, but you don’t like the quote; or you’d like the picture better if there was a different font; or you like the quote but you don’t like Twain; or… I could go on…
SECOND – No-one owns their ideas. Once an idea is expressed, it’s out there, in the ether, on the table, so to speak. So if we disagree, what we say is: “I don’t agree with the idea that… … because I think that … …” and we only bother doing that if it’s relevant, if it’s interesting and if it hasn’t already been said – if your opinion has already been stated by someone else, then it’s already in the mix, so to speak… if we all keep repeating ourselves then that’s where online discussions turn into yukky situations.
THREE – NEVER say you disagree with someone else’s religion on my page. NEVER EVER EVER. We can all assume, since you may have indicated you have another religion, that that is where your Faith lies. End of story. Our religious Faith is one of our most precious things; like our children, and we all know you never criticise someone else’s children. You can however say: “I don’t understand this particular belief in this particular religion; could someone explain it to me please.” So, NEVER: “Why is Islam so violent?” but RATHER: “Why are there these violent movements among people who also say they’re Muslim?” (By which time one hopes you’ve answered your own question, since we can see the same in many religions of course.)
FOUR – you must CONSIDER someone else’s idea before criticising it – think it through – think about where they’re coming from – “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” – Aristotle.
FIVE – Let go of your ideas and beliefs just a little, take a deep breath, pause and think, BEFORE you write. We are ALL just people. We ALL hurt from criticism. We ALL try hard. We ALL want the same things in our life: love, respect, care…
I want to finish this with a direct comment from a friend of my facebook page:
“I was saddened by the comments about guns on your page, too, [don’t get caught up on the gun issue – that’s not what this is about – keep reading…] and also by some commentors’ use of personal attacks instead of engaging in a thoughtful exchange of opposing viewpoints. I’m beginning to think that type of exchange is no longer possible, not in the USA and/or not on FB. I would love to see a FB thread some day led by intelligent, thoughtful people with a variety of viewpoints who are capable of saying to one another, “You make a valid point; however, I disagree with you because . . . .” and “I see what you mean. But have you ever considered . . . ?” That’s not asking for too much, is it?! And I don’t understand why being anti-gun–or merely expressing sorrow over gun violence–has become equated with being anti-American or anti-civil liberties.”
I don’t want to make this blog about America any more than I want to make it about God. It’s about courtesy and respect. Some days I think I’ve become more tolerant of the criticism, other days I’m just so over it. Please try and do better by each other.
PS: I will leave you with this from my favourite Internet personality – I’m sure you’ve seen her around – her name is Gabriela Garcia and she’s 80-something and lives in Havana, Cuba. She hangs out in the tourist areas every day posing for photographs, always with a cigar, always with bright, outlandish clothes. I imagine this is the kind of thing she would say…