Critique as a Lifesaver

I commented this on my friend’s FB wall, but since it seems no one got the message, let me post it here, publicly.

First: context.

My friend, Bert, shared his thoughts on Occupy Wall Street and that sparked a fair bit of debate. After sharing this link as a summary of his thoughts, he said the following:

This whole “Occupy Wall Street” movement may be the most useless protest I have ever seen. Standing in the road with no clear agenda or motive is ridiculous. You’re just succeeding in being an ass-ache to people trying to get to work. I’m sure that this will bring about MASSIVE economic change and fix our system. Way to go, idiots.

After a bit of back and forth, he clarified a bit:

I am absolutely willing to agree that this is something that needs attention. You’ll get no debate there. I want to see something that will succeed happen. The way we can do that is to usher in this change in a realistic and working manner. I feel that the current protest will not accomplish this. However, in our barest essential ideals you and I agree. I feel that pushing legislation and getting in the faces of representatives is the way to go about this, though. I simply wish that the energy would head in a direction such as that.

I understood this from post one, but again, he needed to make a final clarification after losing friends on facebook for doing what is typically done on a social networking site: sharing your opinions and thoughts.

I feel as though I need to make one more statement in regards to “Occupy Wall Street”. It appears my statements have caused multiple people to delete me as Facebook friends, which I find preposterous. It seems I should clarify a few things. First, I used the word “idiots” in my initial post and let me take that back. It was said out of frustration and was in poor taste. Second, Let me be clear: I fully support a movement for reform on Wall Street and within our government. Fully. I do not think that the current protest is going to work for various reasons that I have made apparent. I want to see a focused and decisive effort, not the unfocused and disorganized one we have. Third, Let me make something else clear: Distancing yourself from those who may disagree with you is not the way to go about making change. If you insist on covering your ears when met with some dissent, then who are you to critique Wall Street and Washington for doing the same when you oppose them? If you surround yourself with only people who agree with you, whose mind is there to change? I have managed to have open dialogue with supporters of the protest and even though we may not have agreed upon everything we did not end in anger. I feel as though we ended on an understanding of one another in the very least. Take my initial status in regards to this as an example of civil debate. The people who are willing to have said dialogue are the ones who are positive ambassadors for the protest. Deleting someone from your Facebook is not how you change their mind. That’s truly the strangest way I’ve seen to garner support for something. To those who have shown me respect in our discourse, good luck. Though I may not think your method is sound, I would like nothing more than for you to succeed. All of my criticisms are strictly there to try and aid the overall goal that we share. To those who could not I’m sorry to say that you embodied the things that you hate about the government, Wall Street, and those who refuse to listen to you with your actions. You’ve accomplished nothing in these actions except for losing any credibility your arguments may have had. I bear you no ill will, but you must see the error in your ways if you want to be an asset in any movement.
After reading this, I thought this blog needed to be written and could not wait, so let me point out a few things.
Critiquing is not bad. Let me repeat: critiquing is not bad. Being an asshat is one thing, but that wasn’t the case here. He pointed, clearly, and more times than I copied and pasted, that he wants the movement to succeed, but thinks that this particular means of doing so is not going to be effective and pointed out his reasons why. His biggest one is that he feels that the movement seems to lack focus, so the solution would be: create a focal point for the protest. The solution is going to take work, but it is simple. It would be different if he had picked some vague, unsolvable nonsense to point out, but he didn’t. I read the article; it made five points that were easy to follow. Five. For believing those things to be a valid point, he was alienated…
…or so I thought. After a bit more thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that the ridiculous sense of entitlement we have is going to be the death of our relationships. Reactions like this to criticism with a clear intent to be helpful is going to be the biggest reason movements like this will fail. Listen careful to what I’m about to tell you: dissension done correctly is a great service to you. There is a massive difference between someone telling you “give up” and “do better”. The person who isn’t so caught up in the emotional high and self-importance of what they are doing realizes that and takes the dissension into account.
It’s a basic concept. If we’re driving down a road and I tell you, “this is a good way to get us lost…”, then turn your car instead of hating me for saving you time.
What is wrong with us? Do we really like having elephants in every room of our lives? I want to say I’m disappointed, but it’s so normal now I almost expect it. Someone please inform humanity that I’m trying to hang in there, but they’re making it hard.
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