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  • Author: Sahar Abdulaziz, MS

The Culture of Cynicism Masked as 'Constructive Criticism'


“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.”

– Brené Brown

Our culture of cynicism masked as ‘constructive critique’ has become excessively harsh and wanton. With the push of a button, an immediate snide comment gets delivered. Its punch landing on the most vulnerable––including those who put their creativity out in the world as a gift from the heart. Bullies sling word daggers; their only intent is to cause damage and ridicule to the target. To use public shaming and mockery to make creatives feel small and insignificant, but most of all––to undermine their art and deem it worthless.

Cyberbullying disguised as snark opinion lends itself to a duplicitous level of cruelty. Be clear, this kind of pernicious attacking, although executed through the juxtaposition of a keyboard is still considered emotional abuse. Pithy diatribes and destructive opinions are a blight, and there is nothing ‘review-worthy’ about them. However, why do people do this?

Answer: For power and control.

For bullies, the power to implement scorn in a public arena is fuel. For them, the ability to ridicule and demean is energizing. To control through words the negative perception of another’s efforts and energies through cowardly backdoor derision––entertainment. Regrettably, this is the same type of mealy-ass behavior used by emotional abusers to keep their victims inline, triggering them to vacillate in a world of hurt, while deciphering through tears between what is real and what their abuser deems as fact.

To Creatives:

Try not to absorb the attacks. It’s hard. Brutal…it can feel impossible to shake. And that’s because it’s meant to cause that level of pain and heartache. It’s not in your imagination. You’re not ‘weak’ for feeling what you do…you’re Human. Empathetic. Compassionate.

Being out there can be scary. Having your work critiqued can be emotionally shattering, but if it is really done in a constructive, healthy way, it can also be a learning curve. Embrace that. However, to have your work––your art torn to shreds by a cyberbully-troll is nothing but emotional brutality and you don’t have to accept it or accommodate it. No response is a response.

To Cyberbullies:

We see you…your cravenness, your spinelessness…your cruelty. All big and bad behind the computer screen dropping your lugs… but in the end, your words are empty. Meaningless. You may have satisfied your immediate infantile need to cause hurt, but in the long run, the longevity of injury you have exerted will be against your own hollow soul––and that damage, I’m afraid, is permanent. Well done.


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