The court of public opinion is a vicious one especially in this age of social media. Insults are rampant, defendants hit below the belt, there is no jury, judge, bailiff and there are no rules. Anyone can say and do anything with little or no repercussions or so it seems. Some people believe their actions and comments on social media are inconsequential. Harsh remarks and abuse are heaped on certain individuals with little or no support from the public. However the individuals being abused can’t seem to stop themselves from engaging in these self deprecating and self injurious behaviors. Some of them even go as far as internalizing the feedback thereby leading to catastrophic results.
Most of us have been attacked, insulted or even vilified online. The way we each deal with the online onslaught is a little different. With more and more young people engaging online it is important that we share strategies on how to engage online and how to address unconstructive criticism.
I have been in training for the past 14 years and ultimately whether or not I progress unto the next level of training is largely dependent on someone else’s opinion about me. So trust me when I say I have received a lot of feedback over the years. The further and further I get into my training, the less exams I have to take and the evaluations become more reliant on the feedback method. Now, feedback by itself can be very helpful and I believe it is a critical part in the process of improvement. However, not everyone is skilled in giving feedback. I therefore had to quickly establish a system to provide me with context in processing all this data. Realizing that it was up to me to establish a personal system for processing external input, I decided to abide with each method for a specific amount of time in order to gather enough data to make an informed decision.
The first thing I learned was to not be over reliant on tests. I am very adamant about this fact because in general tests exist to establish the minimum standard for qualification. Every board or licensing exam that I have taken always has the caveat that they are establishing the requirements for the minimal standards of practice. I therefore could not rely solely on tests to gain insight into quality improvement processes for my life. Performance on tests is not all useless but by no means is it all inclusive. Making this realization at the age of 13 prompted me to start an interval and personal system for self improvement and quality control. My entire process is outside the scope of this blog but essentially I developed what I like to call my INTERNAL BAROMETER.
Regardless of the context, I check every piece of feedback I get against my personal barometer and if the data is congruent (meaning in agreement) I adapt the feedback and make the necessary changes and if the data is incongruent (meaning in disagreement) I immediately reject the feedback and move on. When I was 14, my teacher informed me I was wasting my time trying to get an education, I should focus instead on getting married and bearing children. My friends were infuriated and went ballistic over these comments. I quickly checked the “feedback” against my INTERNAL BAROMETER and promptly rejected it. I have had a professor tell me that I career in law was what I was destined for. I also quickly checked it against my INTERNAL BAROMETER and promptly rejected it. This approach and system led me to the following realization: “You must set an internal barometer for your soul otherwise your surroundings will establish one for you”. Basically, your ability to process feedback both positive and negative bespeaks a certain level of maturity.
This is my way of freeing myself from the drudgery associated with the court of public opinion. In a way it is my way of “fleeing” from the public while still engaging with others in a public setting. Feel free to share your thoughts either in agreement or disagreement.