“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
How many of us heard that growing up? I certainly did, along with others with the same message, because when a teacher has 30 pupils in a classroom they want to keep things running as smoothly as possible. But there’s a problem, because that attitude has combined with others from the self esteem movement to spawn a mental barrier of unassailable proportions.
The easiest example of this can be found online, of course. Visit deviantART, fanfiction.net, or any number of different sites where people post their work online and try to find a positive response to criticism. You’ll be searching a long time. The responses are overwhelmingly negative. At the less extreme end of the spectrum, critics are labeled “haters”, “too negative” and blocked, or they are chided for not providing any positive feedback with their negativity. Disregard is just the beginning, many responses are what one might expect from an entitled 7 year old when informed that their drawing did not win first place in a competition. This attitude can also be seen in the absence of personally created works, such as the responses some have to those that criticize a favored TV show, movie, or game.
The mentality behind this is rather simple, and works like this:
- I am special, and things I like are essentially flawless because I am special and unique and don’t like things that aren’t special (ie, flawed)
- Any criticism on the object of my preferences cannot be due to any flaws in the object, because they have none (or none worth criticizing)
- Therefore, all criticism is an underhanded attack on my own person.
This can also be extended to others, as people defend friends or social groups. The effect is the same; not liking something is evidence of hate for those who like it, and/or those who made it. The likes and opinions of a person are now a part of that person, and thus cannot be assailed in the same way that the person themselves cannot be defamed, libeled, etc.
Much more could be said on this subject, this is just one facet of why any negativity is now grounds for casting out, but this suffices for a single post.