“To judge others is human. To keep your opinion about others to yourself is having class.” ~Anonymous
Judging others is as easy as breathing. We do it from the start of any and all interactions with others.
“His name is Norman?”
“She has big ears.”
“Why does his nose whistle when he talks?”
“His suit is loud.”
We do it so much without thinking, but luckily most of us have filters that stop us from saying these things in the moment. Our brains sort through all the judgments and hopefully land on positive (or at least neutral) things to say. Maybe the old adage is best: “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” Or the biblical quote about the plank in your eye. Or the pot calling the kettle black psychology. Whichever you subscribe to, let it rule your mind in those moments.
In our society, though, I’ve noticed anyway that too many people feel empowered to say all those negative things we used to always keep to ourselves (or just tell our closest friends, who tell their closest friends…). Instead of these thoughts dissipating, they gather steam on social media. They marinate and infuse every ounce of our interactions with others. They are personal comments that belong to us, but they seep out into the social realm where we can’t take them back.
“Did you see Connie and Leroy argue at church last week? They’re headed for a divorce.”
“I would never do that in a million years. I don’t know how he lives with himself.”
“Did you see what she was wearing? It made her look like a hippo.”
These verbal expulsions define us so much more than they define those we talk about. And tacitly sitting there and saying nothing just makes you a part of the whole thing. If you say nothing, you might as well agree.
Do you know what’s worse than those who judge and say things about their judgments? Those who judge but don’t believe that they do. They’re so dismissive of the whole judging process. They think they’re above it all. But that’s human nature. The more we accept it, the more we can look for our judgmental tendencies and try to overcome them. If you believe you don’t have any tendencies you will miss them every single time and keep judging until the day you die.
And as much as I love social media, I worry that it’s creating an atmosphere of “anything goes,” “we’re just being honest,” a sort of justification for these heinous attitudes. It gives us a curtain behind which we can hurl epithets with no repercussions. Luckily most of us don’t give it that power because we stay those impulses, because we fight hard to reconcile ourselves with a type of morality that recognizes our judgmental tendencies and works to overcome them.