In a culture that tells us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate, and that being vulnerable is being weak, it is so much easier to criticize than it is to contribute.
I've been reading a lot of online news articles recently and the comment sections on news sites have become the cesspool of humanity. It's hate, criticism, bigotry, ridiculing, belittling - and mostly by folks who are anonymous and hiding behind avatars. That kind of rock throwing is so cheap, easy, and, in my opinion, chicken shit.
I rarely (if ever) read comments that say, "I disagree with this person's arguement or assessment of the situation, I've published my argument here. Take a look and let me know what you think."
I understand the value of social criticism. I study it and require it in my classes. But real social criticism is an important contribution and is done by people who own their work and open themselves up to risk and vulnerability.
I also value constructive feedback and engaged, respectful debate. It's harder to do that online than it is to do it face-to-face, but it's worth the effort. At some point, online news websites need to step up and take responsibility for the content in their comment sections. It's not too difficult to require folks to submit real emails and information. There are plenty of sites that do that.
While I can't control how other people/systems approach this, here's my new mantra/prayer/commitment:
At the end of the meeting/at the end of the day/at the end of my life, I want to be able to say, "I contributed more than I criticized."
Imperfection is not inadequacy - it's what connects us to each other and to our humanity. Vulnerability is not weakness - it's the birthplace of love, creativity, innovation, authenticity and joy.
To all of you out there sharing your thoughts and stories, pitching ideas at work, raising your hand in class, and making the world more beautiful with your art - thank you for your courage!
You are my superheros!