@IzzyKamikaze: Nobody is immune from criticism.
Alice Clearwater

Nobody is immune from criticism.

Really, you might be able to avoid being aware of criticism if you never do anything very public & if you never go on social media. A lot of people will still criticise you behind your back, but not to your face. Social media has blurred the distinction between the two.

But if you organise something public, you will be criticised. If you write, you will be criticised. If you apply for a job, or do a job, you will be criticised. If you fundraise, you will be criticised. If you run for public office, you will be criticised.

If you post on social media, you will be criticised. If you put your wheelie bin out on the wrong day, you will be criticised. If you don't mow your garden you will be criticised. Really, being criticised is part of life. We need to cultivate resilience.

Some criticism will be very unfair. You can engage with it head on - state what the criticism is & refute it - or you can ignore it & hope it goes away (it probably won't) but taking the hump that anybody dares to criticise you or someone you support is not a good look.

Certain kinds of activity - political candidacy, journalism, fundraising, appearing on TV - are going to expose you to a lot of criticism. Seriously, do not do this stuff if you're going to get the vapours as soon as somebody criticises what you did!

I've done a lot of public stuff in my life, as it happens, & a lot of it has been from a pretty marginal perspective - like LGBT activism, back when only a handful were doing it. It brought criticism (fair, unfair & barely cloaked bigotry) with it. I've coped the best I can.

I'm not saying it's easy to cope with. It certainly isn't. My approaches to it have veered from ranting to engaging rationally to sticking my fingers in my ears & hoping it will go away! But expecting it not to happen is a mug's game.

I have to expect other people to have opinions about me & what I say & do - but the flip side is I also have a right to have opinions about them & what they say & do.

Recently I've expressed opinions about candidates for #ras18, as I am surely entitled to do. In response, the sock puppet account of one candidate has said I'm "nothing but a laughing stock." Fair enough. I may be a laughing stock, but at least I'm not running for President 不

At least I'm not running for President on a platform linking every parking offence in Bundoran to fake moon landings, 9/11 & the abduction of Madeleine McCann!

I'm just an ordinary laughing stock.

Recently, I commented (once & without naming names) on a particularly manipulative crowdfunding campaign that was playing out in my TL. That person's flying monkeys descended from all corners - how dare I criticise her!

Sorry. Nobody is immune from criticism. I'm not & neither is she.

That led to a week of flying monkeys sniping at me, accusing me of coordinating a smear campaign, offering to leak my (supposedly scandalous) DMs to anyone who wanted to see the kind of monster I really was! 不 (Needless to say, the DMs were entirely inoffensive. If there was any basis to their B.S., they would have posted it in public. It was just another bottle of smoke.)

Life goes on. If you only say stuff you can stand over (which I really try hard to do) you might get a bit of a verbal bashing every now & then, but most people are smart enough to see who plays fair & who doesn't.

Life goes on.

A year ago, I signed an open letter criticising a newspaper article & some of the reactions to it - something people have been doing for as long as newspapers have existed. There was a bit of a kerfuffle about that too...

In line with what I've said here already, people who write for newspapers should expect to be criticised, just like people who run for political office & people who crowdfund. People who write open letters, or make any public statement, obviously get criticised too!

But as I said, criticism comes in various varieties & that letter got all three types I mentioned - fair, unfair & barely cloaked bigotry. If you keep your head, most people will see the difference between the three...

A year after that letter was signed, a little gang of nutjobs are still accusing the signatories of everything from paedophilia to being in the pay of foreign intelligence agencies. This is not "criticism." This is black propaganda & it's really not OK.

Just like bizarre presidential campaigns & manipulative crowdfunding campaigns, most people see through it, but delusions of this magnitude do not have to be widely shared to be extremely dangerous.

"Most people" knew the Pizzagate conspiracy theory of 2016 was nonsense, but one mentally vulnerable person went into that pizza parlour with an assault rifle, utterly convinced he was legitimately "investigating" a paedophile ring.

The line between criticism & spreading dangerous misinformation is even harder to "police" in any meaningful way. Defamation is a civil matter, which means it can be engaged in freely by people who have nothing material to lose.

Our whole concept of defamation dates from a time when this "didn't matter" very much, because people with nothing material to lose were very unlikely to have much of an audience. Social media has changed that & that is (mostly) a good thing.

Now, in a pretty random chain of circumstances, a dangerous rumour started by some bored kid in his parents' basement can spread around the world in a couple of hours & some vulnerable person can act on it, with hideous results.

There is a lot more to say about this. There are a lot of conversations to be had - especially by those of us who don't want to respond with wide-ranging restrictions on social media & free speech.

For now, my personal position on this can be summed up as "Speak freely, but try to speak responsibly & keep within the limits of what you can back up. Remember the havoc your words can unleash in somebody else's life."

Final (for now) note about conspiracy theories: just because most people think a theory is false, doesn't mean it is false. Conspiracies do exist. Unlikely things do turn out to be true, but it's important to be able to distinguish between what is verifiable & what is speculation.