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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tasteless Criticism: Why it is a problem

The dictionary definition of 'criticism', according to Merriam Webster, is divided into three sentences:
1. The act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or a thing
2. A remark or comment that expresses disapproval of someone or something
3. The activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc

Before we had unlimited access to internet, and before we were incredibly glued to social media and therefore, incredibly not as screwed up, the third definition was what marked the term 'criticism' the most. It was in the newspapers, magazines and mostly in print. The first two definitions played out on television news as we saw political parties spewing venom onto each other (well? What else do they do?). It was pretty much avoidable then, for you could utter a curse and flip channels, but now it seems you cannot escape it. Apart from the fact that criticism bordering on hate, curses and bringing down others is everywhere you go, be it online or offline media, there are also larger groups who've taken to tasteless criticism of just about anything.

Be it the political scenario, or robust support for rude cartoons, everything is a problem with us. We find something we mildly agree with, and then realize that large groups are effectively talking about it, and we jump onto the bandwagon. Criticism helps a lot of times to improve a situation and give new ideas, but mindless and tasteless criticism is definitely not helping. 

We need to get away from customs and practices that bring us down, that stop us from living our dreams or bring us pain, BUT we need to think about it and then take any action. We need to be informed about what we want, and what the situation is. We need to express our struggle for the freedom of expression we so crave, but we need to do it in a way that actually benefits us. Are we so delicate that any comment, a whisper or snigger can make us explode? Are we so intolerant that we dare openly point fingers at others and shout in their ears how they're pathetic? I'm pretty sure that's where we are heading, if we're not there already. From what I've seen around me, in real and virtual life, it's that people love rebelling; they love action, crave evil and sadism, and there seems to be no one to stop them.

One of the ways in which this is clearly visible is media. Take any form of media and find a place where people are not cracking others' heads open. There is absolutely no peace, no understanding of themselves and the world, no morality, no wish for making the world better. I might be sounding bitter, but that's seemingly the truth. We cannot, just cannot make anything better by belittling others. We engage in such mindless criticism of anyone who seems different from us because we're safely hidden behind virtual walls, and obviously, we've somehow shed all fear behind, because kaun kya bigaad lega hamara? No one, I suppose. 

But such criticism is a problem, not just because we're taking away someone's peace of mind, but more so because we're turning into major, insufferable sadists. It makes us swoon when we make a bitter remark that leaves someone else speechless or in tears, it makes us cackle when our 'enemies' have a hard time, it makes us positively gloat when our favoured party brings the other down, and we don't give a damn that the favoured party/leader is a despicable human being. 

We consider ourselves so well-informed that we get into debates and what are supposedly 'discussions' where we pride ourselves in being heard by calling the other names and shouting louder than them. We're getting happy for all the wrong reasons, and we're not realizing it! Modernization? Development? Progress? All of it is a major farce unless we learn to act as humans, and the first thing that makes us act like humans is not to act like animals. If you feel something's not right, get informed about all aspects of it and then voice your opinion. One, it will be more valuable and not be discarded as mindless BS. Two, you will come across as a learned person and not a blubbering idiot. Three, you'll realize that all those sheepherd followers of yours are following your opinion only because you charm them, not because of what rubbish you say.

Indulge in criticism, but focus on the third definition of the word. Look at both sides, the good and the bad, and say something to improve the situation. You'll do your own self a favour that way.

If you have to criticize, ask yourself if what you're saying holds any value, and would be helpful to the one to criticize, or is it just an expression of your frustration. If it is the latter, kindly refrain. Most people seem to think that because they have a voice on the web, they have to be heard. It's a fallacy. We should keep it to ourselves unless it is of any use to someone else - informative, helpful, laughter-inducing. I'm sure we're all not that obsessed with our own selves that we don't realize that unless we have something valuable to contribute to society, we're pretty much useless.

This post was triggered by the annoyance I've felt each time I've logged into FB the past few weeks, where I've seen nothing but hatred and superficial stuff. It was a shock when lately, I came across hateful, sarcastic and mean posts shared by a teacher! What would be the state of students then?

This post is an attempt to criticize the idea of mindless criticism and spreading of hate. It's made me cringe so much in pain that I couldn't help voicing it, hoping that someone, anyone would realize how problematic it is, and turn to helpful criticism instead.


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