I’ve just arranged to meet a friend for lunch.
He suggested we meet at a particular cafe in the city. Not having been to (or heard of) this cafe before, I thought I should have a quick look on the good old interweb to see what I could find out about it (particularly because I’m a notoriously fussy eater).
So of course, I did the standard google thing to check the restaurant out, and I was a little blown away by what I found. There were all these restaurant review sites (I won’t name them – you probably know what they are) full of reviews. And those reviews contained (at least in my humble opinion) the most carping, critical reviews I could imagine. Every little opportunity to find fault had been found. It was as if each of these diners considered themselves to be some kind of expert on fine dining and it was their duty to let the world know about it via their reviews.
Now I’m not going to delve into the rights and wrongs of critical reviews. I agree there is a role for legitimate criticism of other people’s work and that it definitely serves a useful purpose. I’m also not going to get too far into the free speech aspects – each of these reviewers is totally within their rights to make their opinions public. But all the same, the whole thing leaves me with a slightly dirty feeling.
I don’t want to buy into this culture of criticism. In fact, I want to do exactly the opposite. Where others like to destroy, I much prefer to create. Seems to be that it is a far worthier goal to bring something into being where previously there was nothing, rather than bringing down something that someone else has created.
I know my works are not above criticism. I know that despite the lofty ambitions that I set myself, I am never able to reach the heights I aim for. Hey, I could probably find ten things wrong with anything I’ve written before anyone else even started. But that’s not the point. When I create, I know I’ll end up with something that’s far from perfect, and I know I’ll be setting myself up for a barrage of criticism. Some of that criticism will even be justified, though even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it – after all, you can never please everyone. Still, I don’t care. To me, the act of creation is one of the greatest things that anyone can do – certainly far higher than the act of criticism. No matter how clever a review may be, ultimately it acts as a destroyer, not a creator.
And for all you critics out there, just remember that if it wasn’t for us creatives, you’d all be out of a job. So think about that before you bring another one of us down. Maybe you should insert a little thank you somewhere in your review, for being given the opportunity to demonstrate your great critical skill.
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