I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I have been judging, criticizing and having my opinion on other people’s life decisions a lot lately. Friends, family, coworkers, person walking past me on the street, person I’m connected to on social media, anyone and everyone.
It doesn’t mean I share my thoughts with these people, God no, I just love to have a good gossip session in my own head. Me, myself and I chat about why he or she did what they did, whether they are happy, what were they thinking by marrying that person or getting pregnant again, where had that significant other has disappeared to, why she would wear that or be such an oversharer!
And now, with social media giving us easy access to people we hardly see in real life or that we’ve never actually met before, we have a world (literally) of people to constantly judge and criticize.
Pre-social media you’d randomly hear goss about exes or that chick you went to high school with from a friend, who would have had that gossip passed down from someone else.
Now, exes and their new partners, or your new partners exes, or that jerk you dated for a week, or that bitch from high school you couldn’t stand, or that toxic ex-coworker are all accessible with the click of a button, some of which you are “friends” with on Facebook or “follow” on Instagram.
Their photos, life updates, friends, friends of friends are all there for you to see, whereas, pre-social media these people were just shoved somewhere deep into your brain, likely to be forgotten – as they should be. Now, as much as you have access to these people, they have access to you.
And then it makes me wonder, do I really want to see the face or life update of someone I worked with ten years ago, or met once through mutual associates, or went to school with but never spoke to? Not really actually. I don’t need to think about these people, let alone judge and criticize these people or even care about what’s going on in their lives.
It gets me thinking about how much of a crap we give about what other people are doing, thinking or saying, rather than giving a damn about our own lives.
Not only is social media inadvertently making us give a shit about people we once knew or don’t see often, but people we have never even met or never will meet. We think, we search, we stalk, we see, we judge and repeat.
I believe that these repeated judgmental or critical thoughts about other people’s lives, especially online, whether we are conscious of them or not, damage our outlook on life and engrain unhealthy mental habits which we then take into the offline world.
There’s no denying that humans are critical, judgmental and gossipy, whether it’s online or offline, but, at least pre-social media those kinds of conversations generally took take place over a cup of coffee with a friend, lunch with a co-worker, or the phone call you’d have with your mother every few days.
Now they take place in our heads as soon as we wake up in the morning and in the evening before we sleep, on the toilet, at our desks, waiting at the doctor’s surgery, waiting for our takeaway coffee. And it’s never been easier for other parties to join our internal gossip and judgment session with shares and screenshots being sent to our circle in less than a second.
In this day and age, we need to be more conscious about what sucks our mental energy, about the things and people we choose to place into our lives and in front of our eyes, whether it’s online or offline.
There are probably too many people on your social feeds that don’t need to be there, that add absolutely no value to your existence, never have and never will. So, what’s the point in seeing what they are up to, let alone judging how they live their lives?
Sometimes we don’t have to understand other people’s life choices, thoughts or why they do what they do, let alone have opinions on how they should live it. We just need to realize that that’s their journey, not ours.
I think we give too much of a shit about what’s going on in other people’s lives, instead of giving more of a shit about our own lives. Because if your focus is on someone else, it’s not on yourself.
So, in saying all this – for my own mental health – I am going to be more conscious, firstly about who I choose to follow or befriend on social media, and secondly about my judgments whilst scrolling my newsfeeds, watching someone walk past or dealing with the people in my life and teach myself to criticize less.
And if I do have judgmental or critical thoughts – I’m human after all – I will do my best not to verbalize it. But, if I do have to verbalize it, for whatever reason… well, as Charles Buxton once said,
“The rule in carving holds good as to criticism; never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon”.