05 Apr Armchair Criticism Explained
Someone who is not doing what you are doing can never grasp the problems and challenges you face in what you are doing, and how rotten it feels when you are not able to do what you set out to do as well as you wanted to. Because this is how life is. Nothing is perfect on day one. Not even on day hundred sometimes. That is growth, that is work. You have to make small leaps forward, with what you got, and do the bestest you can — not to impress someone else but for some quiet and peace in your own mind.
Others will judge you. That is a given. 90% of the world’s population does absolutely nothing to contribute to the human society. They eat, sleep, procreate, spend time on a work-desk, argue on social media & basically vegetate. They do not even have the maturity or intelligence to understand what it is to do something bigger than what exists. They do not know what it is to have a VISION. They do not know what it is to have higher goals beyond earning x amount of money & buying y number of things. Bigger apartment, newest iphone, latest movie, paying loans, popping pills, flicking news channels – that is their life. That is where they are in life. Yes, life will shock them at some point and they will wake up to a world that is bigger than their personal wants, and will slowly break out of the mould of an unconscious society. That will happen. Because that is the cycle of life. Everyone must wake up at some point. But how many years or how many janmas that will take is unclear. Everything depends on individual choices. In the meantime, they bide their time & kill their boredom by armchair criticism.
Armchair criticism is giving opinions on everything under the Sun, without knowing the first thing about it. It amounts to telling someone how to do their job without knowing what the job is. So it is many levels below the “feedback” culture. The people giving “feedback” usually know what they are giving feedback on – even if they have no clue about the science or creativity behind it it. For example, they know that they are giving their (irrelevant) “feedback” on a work of art, without ever having studied or taken an interest in art. But they atleast know it is a work of art. Armchair criticism is criticising a painting without knowing that it is a painting. It is like saying this is not a good circuit, when someone has painted something abstract and ethereal. Might sound like an exaggeration but that is exactly what armchair criticism is – criticism without any knowledge or context. Chalk and cheese may look similar from a distance but they are very different things. To an armchair critic, they are the same. You talk of chalk, they talk of cheese.
It is easy to say that you should ignore it, when we all know that that is what we need to do. I know that the only way to do anything of substance is by ignoring armchair criticism. Everyone who does anything in life knows this. It is not some big, giant secret written in some abstruse text. It is common sense. Anyone who has the brains to do something creative, who has a vision, also has enough intelligence to know that that is what they need to do to move forward in life. If X is the set of intelligence to know what to do with armchair criticism and A is the set abilities required for creative pursuits, then X is a subset of A. Sometimes, a mathematical notation helps simplify the point.
The point is not that we do not know it must be ignored. A dog barking on the street because it just caught rabies should be given medical treatment, and its barking ignored until it is treated. We know that.
The point is that it is very hard to do, and there is a strong reason for it. Most of this armchair criticism happens on social media. The same social media where we go for getting the latest news, memes, info, check pictures of our friends’ new escapades, promote our business or work, and where we manage sometimes 2, sometimes 25 social media pages or accounts. The same social media where blocking or unfriending people makes you look like an “extremist” and replying back to armchair critics makes you look like a joker in argument with the Joker from The Joker (no disrespect to J. Phoenix).
Yes, the same social media where we spend a whopping percentage of our spare time. Where we go when we are bored. Where we go when we need a mental break. And so on and so forth. It requires some thick skin to ignore armchair critics when they exist side by side with your most ardent supporters, your friends and important news items. They merge with those who matter. It requires a new programming of the brain to switch to the “IGNORE” mode from operating in the “READ” mode. Sometimes it is important to read comments of people who you don’t even know, because they might have genuine questions, or might want details of where to buy your book or contribute to your fundraiser. So even comments cannot entirely be ignored.
It just requires some phenomenal brain wiring to have two modes of operation in your head – 0 and 1. Binary is brilliant for computers but horrible for human beings. Sometimes, the signals get mixed. You are in the middle of reading something heart warming and along comes some random guy making randomly abusive comments and asking randomly questionable questions. It is difficult for everyone. Some people tackle that problem by never replying to anyone, except a few. They just mark a handful of their supporters in their head ( it is like you are “tagged” as a supporter or innocuous person in their heads) and ignore everyone else. That is one way. It has side effects — some genuine people get ignored. Most of them get ignored, along with armchair critics. But they is the trade off they make.
The other way is to wire yourself for non reaction overall, without ignoring anyone. Where you simply do not react to anyone, even when you do read their comments. This is the hardest part. Because it involves being considerate enough to not ignore anyone, and at the same time being impervious to hatred, false accusations, random criticism on your labour of love, perverted viewpoints on your original viewpoint etc. That is why it is hard. And that is why almost nobody does it.
Another way is to just do your work, and not be active on social media at all. Where the world of social media is non existent for you, save for data analytics purposes. Some of the best researchers and professors fall in this category.
Those who have never used social media beyond posting their pictures or a meme can never understand the challenge behind this. They cannot imagine it, grasp it. They would have to LIVE your life to understand it.
That is why armchair criticism is so bad. Because they attack the very person who has the cure for it. Those working on a bigger vision are the ones who can wake up the armchair critics from their unconscious coma. But they troll those very same people, sometimes even run propaganda against them, and pour hate against them. It is a case where the infected person actively destroys the medicine for their infection.
The good part is that in the bigger scheme of things, this unconscious load on humanity does not matter. In the cosmic logic, their very existence does not matter. Only those who have seeking, who are waking up or trying to actualize their utmost potential and possibilities even have an existence beyond, say, being a chair. So, in the cosmic logic, there is no significant difference between an armchair and an armchair critic.
Knowing that, solves the problem.