COLUMN: Relearning the value of constructive criticism

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

In The Leader’s last issue, my debut column was printed and put online for the world to see and read. Being that this was my debut column, I felt that the occasion was momentous enough to post on Facebook. My parents were also so proud of me getting published that they also posted the column on their profiles.

Between the three of us and all of our friends on Facebook, at least a couple hundred people potentially had my little column pop up on their feed. Maybe they read it, or maybe they didn’t. Typical me being me, I worried a lot about what people were going to think about my writing, yet I got nothing but love and support. Nobody on any post commented anything negative about my piece.

At least those who voiced their opinion did not say anything negative.

Facebook was not such a joyful medium a week or so ago. Upon getting out of class one afternoon, I noticed my father engaged in a somewhat hostile conversation with one of his former classmates and my neighbor regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The conversation did not start off as hostile. It merely started out as a discussion of beliefs — and a perfectly respectable one at that — until somebody said something the other did not particularly like and the nasty words ensued.

People are allowed to have their own beliefs and preferences. Unfortunately, it becomes discouraging in society to voice opinions nowadays, even though opinions are essentially the driving force for most of what goes on in society.

As aforementioned, I was afraid of people giving me criticisms of my piece. However, as I should have remembered from having my writing critiqued by many fellow writers over the years, criticisms only make writing stronger. Of course,  it is impossible for everyone to completely like every single thing, but criticisms give insight into a different perspective that could be beneficial to consider.

The same applies with my dad’s politically charged debate and in politics in general. Collaborating with somebody of different beliefs has the potential to create compromises that could help many more people. In reality, it seems like when people of different beliefs work together, chaos begins and nothing gets done.

Arguments should not be about winning or losing. Arguments should be conversations rich with evidence and facts, not curse words and insults. In a perfect world, nobody should feel like they have lost an argument; they should feel like they have learned something new and gained a new perspective from the other party. 

We should not run away or shut down someone who has a different opinion than us. We should be encouraged to have a thoughtful conversation with them about it. No insulting. No crying. We can all be winners in this sense.

I appreciate my colleagues for giving me their opinions on my work because they do it out of love, and they want my writing to be the best it can be. Why can’t that mentality be applied to other discussions?