While the UK and Europe are battling over the Brexit process, it is easy to find yourself drawn into this like a moth to the bulb, spending hours thinking about pros and cons, and who said what. Then there is a perpetual source of amusement coming from the USA, which generates reams of journalistic coverage and hours of entertainment. It is easy to lose yourself in these things everyday. But one day I took a look at my terrarium- and realised that there were small events happening daily in my own room that I ignored. Things that gave me joy and courage. And hope and happiness.
A life was emerging and there were more signs of life to be found in my living room that I hadn’t acknowledged, like this Peace Lily from a pot that hasn’t bloomed for years.
Then I realised there were big things also happening that could affect our life on the planet at the time when politicians appear to have taken centre stage. Climate change threatens our entire existence and no one really seems to be paying any attention, despite the student protests on Fridays. In December 2018, a meteorite came close to causing catastrophic damage to all forms of life when a force close to ten Hiroshima bombs was unleashed. Except, thankfully this meteorite exploded over a water body and no one was hurt. So I realise that when the immediate seems to capture and hold your attention, then try looking up into the heavens or inside your home. There are things happening there which are far more meaning to your life and others.
It is rude to ask someone their age, how much they earn and other personal stuff like religion and sexuality (unless they talk about it themselves) but I found there are times when it might be advantageous to reveal your age. This is when you work in an industry where age or experience matters and you look younger than you are. I look younger than I am and I work in a very male dominated industry where I’ve been dismissed by both men, and surprisingly by women too (I suppose these women follow the males). I was being also ignored for promotions and my suggestions or advice not being listened to. One colleague even calls me ‘kiddo’. Friends told me to stop worrying about it, saying, ‘You know that people actually reduce their age on social media?’ or ‘You are so lucky!’ People have different problems and I had this strange one. I wondered what I should do as it seemed a ‘non-problem’ to some, and even ironical to complain about it.
I spoke to a female mentor and she said I shouldn’t worry about this and should use this to my advantage. But what advantage was it giving me? None, I decided. Then I noticed a female colleague who had set out her date of birth in her C.V., unlike me. She is the same age as me but actually looks older. But instead of dismissing her, I noticed the men saying we should all support this ‘young woman’ and the women giving her respect too. So obviously being careful with online scams and ‘cat fishing’, I’ve decided to reveal my age (but not the day and month) on my social media profile on sites like Linkedin and my CV. I noticed that this also stops me from getting unwanted chatty emails from men saying things like, ‘I love your smile, shall we meet up when I am next in London?’
Have you had any experience of this? What actions did you take?
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.’