A friend on one of my social networking sites recently posted this question, “How do you handle criticism?”
I have been pondering this question over and over again, since I find it isn’t a simple one to answer. It is difficult to assess this question honestly without being hypocritical.
the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.
Synonyms: assessment, judgment, evaluation, comment, critique
This same friend is honest to a fault, which I happen to love. For instance, my husband once shared his homemade pasta sauce with her and then requested her opinion. Both have deep roots in their Italian heritage. Her evaluation was important to him. What he got was straight up criticism. He loved it, and he took it to heart, analyzing his concoction, and making adjustments. This was personal to him, and he wanted to improve on his recipe.
I think the highest form of criticism today, while not in the dictionary findings, is silence. In today’s social media "techie" world, ignoring a person or finding what they have to say irrelevant and unimportant is silent criticism.
I might also add that because of the way we communicate today via social networking, there is a sad thread of narcissism and personal need for ongoing public attention and ‘likes.’ Don’t get me wrong. I love technology and the medium of modern day communication available at our finger tips. I really enjoy it…but it can be hazardous to our mental wellbeing if we don’t take the time to be introspective and wise.
Old fashioned criticism is something that happens when we fellowship in person with others. It should happen naturally, and without much thought. But the world has become so politically charged that most often one cannot have honest critical dialog without someone’s feelings being trampled on. Been there... been hurt, too. What are we to do? Talk about the dogs, cats and weather, ad nauseam?
Opinions are personal, and people have a right to them. Remember free speech? What I find difficult is when someone opines about something in which they know little to nothing about, yet they think they do. Therefore I am often critical in my heart and, yes, in my words…in my analysis and evaluation with that type of conversation.
But I’ve also been silent.
In the social networking arena I am also silent toward those who have thrown things out into the world in which I may disagree with. So it is with those who disagree with me. We become irrelevant and unimportant except in the minds of those who idolize us and/or agree with us. I have a few dear friends on FB with whom we each agree to disagree with on many things. Yet, together we rejoice in accomplishments or show compassion during difficult times, I really appreciate their integrity.
There are also people whom I’ve known, for what seems a lifetime, who are silent with me but not with others. When I began to take social networking personally, this started to tug at my conscience.
I am active on three different social media sites. Facebook originally got my attention because I had been in youth ministry and I wanted to stay in contact with the teens. Over time that changed and I began to accept other '#socalledfriends.’ I additionally began using Twitter several months ago because I was politically frustrated and wanted to catch up on how others might be feeling. I wanted what I have received from Twitter; a world of communication and shared news. I really enjoy Twitter and the people I follow. I am also a member of a Christian social network site which is very satisfying in terms of Christian friendships and discernment. It is a sight where people are not silent, since we all share the same concerns about the state of the Christian world, and the open decline of Biblical truths, particularly within so-called traditionally Bible believing denominations. We don’t ignore one another, yet there is open criticism and confrontation.
So back to the question “How do you (me) handle criticism?” I am accustomed to it. I am also accustomed to being critical. I have a debrief partner, he is my husband. I have a Bible and I am dependent on God. I seek Him in others criticism and I seek Him when I have been critical towards others. I am not a communitarian, seeking the greater good or common ground. I am a Christian seeking His approval above all else. Like my mother, I fear the Lord in a Godly way, understanding that one day I will stand before Him. He will have the final word, good or bad. I can only do what I believe to be right and God honoring.
I am not emotionally immune to criticism, but I have grown wiser at separating my personal feelings and fixing my eyes on my priority. One cannot be all things to all people. Being true to my convictions and beliefs has to be more important than the unfavorable judgment of others.
And I’m more than ok with that.