Moby Dicks: Critique vs. Criticism

Saturday, February 28, 2015 | 0 Comment(s)

"We all can't be bloggers for a living."

He wrote that to me publicly on Facebook. I barely knew this guy and here he was posting the very question that kept me awake at night.  He was obviously ribbing me, but there was a tinge to it.  Kinda like that an adolescent male buck tentatively knocking horns with the alpha, just to make sure the ol' guy still had it in him and was willing to put up a fight.

I had to ram my head back into his, that much was clear.  I typed my first response, something flippant and douche-filled that referenced my Ph.D.  Über douche.  As I reread it I hated the person whose voice it came out of.  I'm not self-conscious about my intelligence. Throwing all of my formal learning in his face would only prove him right. When your only defense is letters on a piece of paper, you got nothing. Advanced degrees are just symbols of knowledge, but is the knowledge itself that carries value. That first attempt was quickly highlighted and deleted.

He certainly is a Moby Dick . . . .        (illustration by Michael Hawthrone)

My next response went the self-deprecation route.  I think I wrote, "And the blogs not even that good!" On the whole I find this brand of comedy incredibly successful. The person laughs and feels superior for a moment, and then he or she moves on with no further fuss.

The problem with that answer is I was lying.  Obviously my blog fucking rocks. That why you're here in the first place.  As rule number one in life, when it is at all possible, I try to be 100% truthful.  I believe the word in English is "blunt." To self-deprecate myself in this instance would be in opposition to that golden rule.  And if we're being blunt, and you know I am, self-deprication wouldn't deliver enough of a cranial impact to deter this guy from further asshatery.

I tried a mean quip, then a sarcastic dig.  With my fourth erasure, I sat back and took a moment to introspect.  What made me so sensitive to begin with is my own self-doubt around whether writing is a viable career path.  When this guy questioned my writing, however, it felt more about the quality of my character than a judgement on all writers.  Thankfully, I'm ok with me, and I'm deeply in tune with the bravery it takes to forge ahead down a career path that is equal parts risk and reward.

As is often the case, honesty won the day.  I tried to be succinct and clear with my sentiment.

"You're absolutely right about that my man, you're absolutely right about that."

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