I Yam Who I Yam



I’ve been thinking a bunch about how we judge each other.   And how we have built-in infrastructure that does it in the most cruelly effective way.  

I’m speaking of the Neanderthalic thumbs up, thumbs down.  No disrespect to Siskel & Ebert, the movie critics who ended their reviews by summing everything up with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and actually trademarked the phrase “two thumbs up.”  They were professionals, after all, hired to give viewers their perspective.  If we were going to plunk down our hard-earned cash on a movie, we wanted a clear sign that it would be worth it.

We wanted a thumbs up.

But now many platforms made to share creativity have adopted the thumbs up/thumbs down rating system.  And here is why that poses a problem to that very creativity they are hoping to spawn.  Younger creatives, and hell, even older ones with seemingly thicker skin but tender hearts, focus their own self worth based on the number of ups or downs a posted project receives.  I know some really creative young people (ahem) who have removed good content because there were too many thumbs down.  Or, even more tragically, decided what to create based on what gets positive reviews.

Isn’t that bass-ackwards?  Shouldn’t we be suggesting to young kids that they should create what comes from within, and find their own worth within the creation and not the feedback loop?  Does it really matter what other people think?

I mean, I don’t care what you think, but what do you think?



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2 responses to “I Yam Who I Yam

  1. Sam

    Well said! (written that is). As a creative myself, I want to have a sense of how people encounter my work and what their response is, but a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” certainly doesn’t cut it. We are talking about nuance and impact. Art requires us to breathe something in and see what it awakens in us or pushes us up against. If the encounter is only “like” or “dislike” a “yes” or “no,” there is no room for texture and we fail to be touched by the truth expressed by another. To be touched by the truth within ourselves. Truth is what it is whether we like it or not. And I’ve had enough doubt about my truth to last several lifetimes. So I say we make frameworks of support and inspiration instead of doubt and judgement. Create that!

  2. You make a really good point. I think there are times when we don’t actually need the feedback, we just need to create. Then, as things go, choose your critics – people you trust, and after that experience, start letting the world weigh in. Eventually a creative project, if it is meant to see the light of day, will get that positive/negative feedback. The hard stuff hurts, so why not ease in, eh?

    I like mediums with options. For instance, ratings and comments can be controlled on Youtube or turned off entirely.

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