If there is one ability that our world is desperately short of, it is the ability to manage criticism constructively. This includes accepting criticism as well as providing criticism. It is amazing how proficiency in this particular skill has not tracked the proliferation of opinions available to us through the growth of popular websites and social media. On the contrary, it seems that hiding behind anonymous usernames has made it acceptable to totally reject this significant social skill in favour of mind-numbing, emotionally-laden verbal abuse.
Think before you speak
Soren Kierkegaard said: “Some people demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought, which they avoid”. I would venture that the majority of opinions put to paper today are not the fruit of thoughtful reflection but the empty rumblings of infinitely vacant minds. Pubic opinions are in the realm of public debate and, therefore, should be done with public interest in mind. Respect your fellow user by at least making sure that what you say makes sense and contributes to taking our understanding of matters forward.
In the same way, criticism of an opinion should be respectfully applied or not applied at all. Many opinions are not worth a comment since they are vacant of any substance. Yet, so many choose to defy physics by expanding the already vacant space even further with their inflated empty comments. In so doing, we end up with so much space between opinions that it becomes impossible to cross the divide with constructive dialogue.
Why do you offer an opinion?
I think the first step to learning how to manage criticism better is understanding why you feel the urge to offer your opinion. Do you feel marginalized by society and want to feel important by saying what you want? Do you want to hurt others that you feel are inferior to you? Do you want to feel superior by showing others how intellectual you are? Do you crave attention and feel that controversial opinions will provide the (negative) attention that you seek?
If your motivation to enter public debate is based on selfish reasons, it will not take long for your opinions and comments to disclose your closed-mindedness. Your overestimated self-importance will always be oversensitive to contrary opinions and will compel you to insult and injure others.
However, if you are motivated by the need to understand or the drive to move forward in our understanding of the world, then your comments will always contribute to constructive criticism. You will be respectful of others, refusing to waste their time with pointless opinions and refusing to partake in insolent responses.
Building a better world for our children begins with a genuine wish to build understanding, and that wish can never be created from selfish motives.