Dear Critics, What Are You Doing To Contribute?

tin can speak talk

Constructive criticism is valuable, and it can benefit anyone who creates content. Of course, not all criticism is constructive, and we won't find it all valuable even when it is constructive. The point is not that we should accept all constructive criticism. Rather, the point is that we should look for the value in considering it. "Does the critic make a valid point?" "Is this an opportunity for me to learn something?" "Could this help me improve?" These are among the questions I try to ask myself in the face of criticism.

It can be difficult to distinguish constructive criticism from other types of criticism. Many of the atheists I encounter online seem to enjoy criticizing content or those who create it. Some do so in ways that are far from constructive. I ran into one who was claiming that a prominent atheist blogger is "overrated." This critic was unwilling to acknowledge that he was expressing his preferences. They might not reflect the absolute value of the blogger's work. In other words, he decided that since he did not care for this blogger's work, the work must be without merit.

In cases like this, I find myself tempted to ask the question posed in the title of this post: "And what are you doing to contribute?" It is easy to shit on someone else's parade. If you don't like what someone is doing and want to complain about it, consider trying to do it better. This is not to say that those who aren't creating content have no right to criticize those who do. They do have that right. Some exercise it in a helpful way. And yet, I wonder whether some of the nastier critics have ever tried to create content of their own.

In the case I described above, I knew the answer to this question. This critic had started a rudimentary blog. I'd read a few of his posts, and I wasn't impressed with what I found. In fact, I found his writing to be borderline incoherent. But you know what? At least he was trying. I'll give him credit for that because many critics don't do that much.

What do we do with this? That's up to you, but I'll share my plans. When I'm tempted to dump on someone who is trying to contribute something, I'll pause. I'll ask myself what I am doing to contribute. At least, that's what I am going to try to do.

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay