Critical Culture

If there’s one thing we’ve become exceedingly great at in American culture, it’s criticizing everything. Whether it’s what celebrities wear, or what someone posts on Twitter or Facebook, “romantic” decisions made on reality dating shows, how well or poorly we perceive that coworker to be doing her job, or  pretty much anyone’s life decisions. We love and aspire to “drag” people online like it’s a sport and follow those who are amazing at it. It’s all about that ultimate burn, calling someone out on anything you’re outraged about or against in any capacity, getting the final word in and “winning.” But the question is, what is it we’re all winning?

Superiority – or at least the illusion of it.

Comedians often poke fun at and call people out for the sake of a laugh, and that has its place. There’s a time for laughter to diffuse a situation or to do our impressions of someone or pick on something that is difficult for us to process.

However, we seem to lack basic capabilities like empathy and other perspectives. I often find it most frustrating when it applies to people trying to speak into parts of my life (or others’ lives) where they have no authority but talk like they do. Don’t like what someone posted online? Immediately lash out at them like they’re an idiot instead of figuring out where they’re coming from. Don’t like how a coworker is doing their job? Walk in with a “let me do that for you because you clearly can’t” attitude instead of being humble and helpful. Friend or family sharing or venting about something you know nothing about? Tell them what they’re doing wrong and then try and fix it for them. Trust me, they’ll love it.

I don’t know where along the way we lost empathy or the ability and desire to understand other perspectives. Asking a few questions first does wonders and makes things much less “me vs. you”. It’s amazing what a few minutes and breathing before responding with your own “expertise” and knowledge can do to change how a conversation goes.  Try to be less critical and more understanding before you open your mouth or start hammering out that response or “advice” on your phone or computer.