At some point, criticism became a dirty word and was rebranded “hating.” There’s even a catchy jingle. Every third LinkedIn post reinforces that success comes from not giving a shit what “they” think (100% the “they” in most of those exists only in the mind of the poster).
I should say that I do think there are real haters—people who don’t bring the “constructive” part of constructive criticism, probably have no insight, and only want to cause pain. Another term for them is “troll.” Or Trump voter.
When we brush off all criticism as being from “haters,” though, we risk missing wisdom that would level us up in life.
Most people recognize that at some point in life, we need help. Sometimes that’s financial help. Sometimes it’s having an “in” at that company you want to work at. And it’s really nice when that help is unsolicited—a surprise check from Grandma, an email letting you know that your dream job just opened up and when can you start?
So why are we so damn opposed to unsolicited advice?
I’m a parent of 4 teenagers. There’s this recurring theme that they already know everything—and on the off chance they don’t know something, they’ll learn it on YouTube. I get it, I’ve encouraged them to dive into the things they want to learn, through books and online tutorials.
The problem is that as humans, most of us don’t know what we don’t know. And unfortunately, you can’t google “teach me what I don’t know” the same as you can google “how to create macramé.”
Is it no wonder that society seems to have no recollection of how to avoid the mistakes of the past? We don’t know what we don’t know and we ignore those who try to educate us.
This isn’t a liberal vs conservative thing. Liberals make a big deal about believing science and trusting experts. But when experts warn “you won’t win elections that way,” liberals double down on polarizing speech and ideology that has little chance of implementation because you have to win elections to set policy.
Sure, it’s probably an age thing. I knew everything at 20, too. But the move from real life communities to online “communities” made of mono-generations who “ok boomer” all voices of experience seems to have amplified that part of human tendency.
Ironically, most of us only realize as we age how little we know. But we do have some knowledge that can only come from experience. And those older than us have even more.
So don’t be a dick about receiving constructive guidance (or giving it!). Recognize the advantage you’ll have over others in your generation. Combine it with the things you do already know to reach the secret hidden level*.
*Video game reference…?