Why Criticize?

I think criticizing is probably the most basic reaction any of us can have to something we find undesirable, disagreeable or otherwise counter to our own personal culture.

We use criticism at work, at home, in politics, with religion, etc. etc.

Some criticisms are brilliant to be sure; crafty webs of words that dig into the subject like an ice-cream scoop in melting butter. Like this parody my SIL turned me on to earlier today. I can't wait for my iPad, but this is hilarious.

Some are barely above slobbering grunts.

But I’m talking about the decision to criticize as being simple-minded, not necessarily the criticism itself. That moment when the switch is thrown, before a single word of negative reaction can be shared, I think is at the lowest level of human interaction.

Criticism is basic because it’s absolutely unproductive in the end, save maybe the hue and crier getting his or her rocks off. If you agree with the criticism you may raise your hand in salute or bark a hard laugh. If you disagree you may argue your point or fume through a myriad of internal, angry conversations.

Has criticism changed your mind much?

By the way, before anyone thinks to post a comment about casting stones, I am right up there with everyone else. When my critical tongue gets going, there’s little that can stop it.

There are some who don’t. Although if said person replaces criticism with condescension, he’s not off the hook. That’s just as bad, maybe worse.

If it’s not productive, not persuasive and not kind, then why do it?

Do you criticize many people, places, things or other nouns?

Have you ever thought about why?




  1. I criticize a LOT. Not because I like to make bonfires, it's just the teacher in me who hates irregularities (oh ok, I just want things better my way).

    When I criticize my friends and students, I always bear in mind that I do it for their own good. The words might be laced with poison (because I am a morbidly acerbic guy) but I do believe in negative reinforcement. Hit them in the head to realize their mistakes. Let the lovey-dovey kiss-ass happens at home or the counseling room. :)

  2. I can see why you, the gadget man, like this video. Funny.
    Do I criticize? For me criticism is judging. I don't do that much. I do have a problem with disliking racist, prejudiced, close minded, uncaring people. Oh, that is judging them isn't it?

  3. Yes, I criticize. Politicians, literature, movies, journalists, etc. It's part of thinking analytically.

    In my personal life, I do try to accept people as they are and not criticize what they do. But I also try to ask for what I want. It can be a fine line between acceptance and criticism. Just ask my husband!

  4. Shadow - I sort of knew you'd go that way on this post. You just keep that negative reinforcement going. :)

    TB - Yeah, see that's the thing. Any criticism is still criticism. I think it's because we think we know better than the next guy and we want the next guy to see the light.

    Juli - I think it CAN be a part of thinking analytically. It can also be a way of ignoring analytical thought and just pushing one's own ideals. If a person is criticizing, are they listening? If they are not listening then are they really analyzing or just reinforcing? I don't know. Like you said, it's a fine line.

    WTP - Right, we criticize because we don't like what people are doing. I'm just wondering if there is a better way to go about it, one that wouldn't get people's defenses up, which essentially shuts down any possibility of behavioral change.

    This has turned out to be a thoughtful topic. I appreciate everyone's comments.




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