Judging is an American spectator sport that really could have its own Olympic team.
We judge. We opine. We even have secret thoughts.
We all do it.
What? You say you don’t?
I don’t believe you.
Judging can be evaluating: is this choice better than another?
Or it can be…. judgmental. Purposeless. Or even mean.
That’s one of our greatest fears, isn’t it? Being judged. Of being deemed unworthy in some way.
Here are the synonyms for judgmental:
Those are not benign words.
Not too long ago someone online wrote, “I can’t help but judge you if I see you have an AOL email address.” It made me laugh. But it serves as a good example. She looks at AOL email addresses as evidence that someone’s stodgy, old-fashioned and out of touch. But maybe there’s another way to look at it. I have an AOL email address. I’ve had it since 1996. I use it for subscriptions, junk mail and for online contacts. It’s my “public” email address. It’s the one I would give her, since she isn’t yet a personal friend. My personal friends use a different email address to communicate with me. No, not Gmail. I can’t stand Gmail.
I live in Silicon Valley. I had a long career in tech. And I use an AOL address because it’s convenient for my almost 20 years of online life. Because I don’t want to junk up my personal email.
Which, by the way, is Ymail, a Yahoo email service. Another email service she judges. Yahoo is a local company. It started right here in Silicon Valley and it’s still here. It’s not perfect, but it’s adequate. AND it’s not Gmail. Which I don’t like.
If this is how you judge me, well, go right ahead. But it raised a bigger issue.
Just like my online pal says she judges–but doesn’t have the fuller picture–so do we all. Often when we make a critical comment about someone, we aren’t taking in the whole person. We’re evaluating them based on one small facet.
Is that really an accurate view?
Someone else I know works with overweight people and confessed that she judges them. Fat-shaming is another Olympic sport in this country. But what about looking at the entire person? The beauty of their loving personality or their intellectual accomplishments? Wouldn’t it be more loving to look at their struggles? Their effort at changing their lives? Why evaluate people on the basis of one superficial factor?
It’s interesting that being judged is one of the things we fear most–that fear often prevents us from stepping out into the great unknown–and yet, we all make judgmental shortcuts, evaluating someone based on one tiny factor.
I’ve been working hard these past years to use my compassion to look past the most apparent factors and find the thread of humanity that binds us all together. Unbeknownst to me, that simple act of connecting with another’s pain more deeply has had significant personal byproducts. It honed my ability to forgive, increased my capacity to love and allowed me to see beauty I might otherwise have missed.
What might you be missing by taking the shortcut of judgment? And here’s what Miss Manners said a couple weeks ago about judging, and Miss Manners knows best:
Miss Manners: Don’t judge lest you be judged
By Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A new chairman was recently hired for my department. He and his wife have been in town a few months and are gradually getting to know the rest of the faculty.Miss Manners, the wife’s hairstyle is frankly grotesque. She wears it wildly teased and sprayed like a country singer from the 1970s. She is a nice lady, but everyone is tittering and making derisive comments behind her back. Can she (and her husband) truly be unaware of how inappropriate she looks? How, if at all, should this be addressed?
GENTLE READER: Does your college have a coiffure code? And do you really propose to enforce one unilaterally? Miss Manners warns you that to level criticism in any way will make your life a misery. You would only be asking people to judge your own stylistic choices.