We Write About Others
Reputation is an online currency. The value of what we say is nothing without credibility, competence, and integrity to back it up. Part and parcel of online reputation has become something known as social proof. The popularity of our network and the things people say about us and our influence carry weight that affects the value of our words.
But what if people say things that are mistaken, out of context, or just made up? Even with the best intentions, folks meaning to evaluate and offer input can miss part of the story. And there’s that human trait some folks have for wanting to take down whatever person is currently at the top.
How do we tell a critic from someone who simply wants an influence to shut up?
Last night in a conversation on Twitter, the subject of critics and criticism came up.
This morning I went to Merriam Webster for clarification.
critic – Etymology: Latin criticus, from Greek kritikos, from kritikos able to discern or judge, from krinein
1 a: one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique
censor Etymology: Latin, Roman magistrate, from censÃâre to give as one’s opinion, assess; perhaps akin to Sanskrit Ã âºamÃâ¡sati he praises
1: a person who supervises conduct and morals: as a: an official who examines materials (as publications or films) for objectionable matter
A critic analyzes a work to determine whether it’s structurally sound and accurate. He or she sees whether it’s aesthetically pleasing within the confines of the medium it’s offered. A critic uses education and experience to evaluate whether an artist, thinker, writer, speaker or other has set out to perform a worthwhile work and has accomplished that goal.
A critic’s personal opinion of a work or the source is secondary to how well the execution of the original purpose is achieved within confines of the validity, accuracy, structure, and expression of the work.
Statements about the “goodness, morality, or personal value” of a venture or adventure are not criticism in it’s truest nature. Unsupported personal judgment about a work has to pack unquestioned expertise to be criticism and even then —
Censors judge goodness, morality, and what is right . . . or not.
The danger of censorship is that it can make statements, assumptions, and evaluations about the artist, thinker, writer, speaker or other, as well as the work. Ideas of “goodness and morality” move the converation into motive and intent and possible outcomes. The world view and personality of the artist, thinker, writer, speaker or other get evaluated as part.
It’s a delicate endeavor to do that fairly without taking away a person’s humanity and in the process losing our own. The most effective censors also leave their personal biases at home.
A person is a person, a many dimensional being — not simply a blogger, an A-Lister, a social media guy, a date last night, or a mom. I think about that when I hear folks make statements about motivations and intentions without having heard from or studied the people they are talking about.
According to the Etymology, the word critic is younger than the word censor. Maybe we need more practice.
Critics and censors — what do you see of them? How do you respond?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!