How many times have you heard this, ‘Don’t judge me!’ We hear it mostly from people who have been accused of something on social media and they hit back with this. These are people who are doing something that is considered not ‘normal’ or have lifestyles or looks that are not what we are used to seeing in the media. There are many examples- from overweight people, to how parents are bringing up their children to extreme lifestyles. Do we really need to comment on everything others do? No, we don’t but it is not easy to stop ourselves from judging.
Making judgements is what makes us human and living beings. If we didn’t stop judging situations as dangerous or not, we’d be dead. When we all lived in jungles and were in constant fear of survival, we had to judge each moment in order to survive. But even now, we are still judging, especially in intellectual, cultural or social matters. Judgements are passed on criminals by courts, or on artistic endeavours (whether it be music, art or drama) by critics or on sports performance by commentators. But those not working in the ‘careers of judging’, will also pass judgement on how other people look (especially for celebrities), live and what they say. People feel the need to judge and comment, even on innocuous matters about things that don’t really affect them. As a result, critics will get angry and those criticised will be angry and hurt. In the days of media exposure of celebrity lifestyles, key board warriors can hide behind made up names and write cruel comments on anyone, people they don’t know and will never meet. People have even trolled dead people, something that can be so devastating to their families.
This kind of cruel and unthinking social judgement has become so common that it has set off an extreme reaction- people do not listen to any advice, even if it comes from a good place. People who work as ‘judges’, writers and critics find it harder to criticise anything or anyone, in fear of being sued or their work destroyed. But living a non judgemental life is not good for us. We lose that sense of philosophical, moral and social progress in our lives if we cannot allow a well thought out criticism to come out of anyone. Criticism also allows us to have a proper perspective on the situation and allow us to look at the pro and cons, thereby affording us the freedom to make a choice. How can anyone progress if we are constantly told that we’re okay? Constructive criticism is an essential tool for anyone looking to improve their lives and work. But that criticism is best delivered in privacy, and face to face- not anonymously and online. Being criticised is hard for anyone. So we need to become more open human beings, open to being criticised and also being able to give well considered criticisms. Reading, listening to others and reflecting are tools that can help us. Critical thinking needs time. In fact the people who write cruel online comments are usually ones who have often just read the headlines or looked at a photograph.
As Evelyn Beatrice Hall said, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’