I woke up this morning feeling like a jerk. Looking back over the past six months, I’ve spent far too much time arguing over small details with people I respect and largely agree with, and not nearly enough time collaborating with them toward the common objectives we’re all striving for: greater access to information, more diverse participation, and the decentralization of social capital.
A couple days ago, frustrated by all the dreary projections about the future of the internet here at the International School on Digital Transformation, I used Twitter to criticize Jonathan Zittrain for what I feel is exaggerated fear-mongering about the corporatization and impending doom of the internet. When you are always searching for what’s perfect it is easy to not take advantage of what is already very good.
But the irony is that I have been spending my time and mental energy criticizing their criticisms rather than collaborating toward our shared vision of what the internet can and should be as a medium of communication and participation.
There is something depressingly seductive about criticism. I suppose that by criticizing others we then feel more informed and authoritative about a particular topic. There is almost a playground psychology to it; making fun of a kid to increase our schoolyard popularity.
It helps to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this. Erik recently wrote that he was frustrated to find himself increasingly reactive rather than proactive. And yesterday Chris published a thoughtful post recognizing that criticism of what’s not perfect can slow down progress toward what’s pretty great.
So I’m glad that I’ve woken from the stupor. I know that the allure of criticism will always be there, but I’m going to do my very best to focus on what’s good, and not criticize that which is not perfect.