Reading with A Critical Eye Versus Reading to Be Critical

Yesterday I watched as yet another writer was crucified by social media.  Ironically, most of the people casting stones actually agreed with the main point the writer was trying to get across–they just didn’t like the way it was presented.  I know that feeling oh so well!

Technology can be a good thing, but it has had a detrimental effect on how we read things.  We are no longer reading with a “critical eye,” but reading “to be critical.”  Allow me explain.  Reading with a critical eye is to realize that not everything you read is true.  It means that you read it, ponder it, and possibly do a little research on your own before owning it.  Reading to be critical is to deliberately pick up on something the writer says, vehemently (and publicly) disagree with it, run the author publicly in the ground (since it is Easter week, think hang on a cross), without acknowledging the main point the author is trying to make.

In the case yesterday, it was a matter of using a two-word phrase that got people all riled up.  Readers just couldn’t see past those two little words.  It didn’t seem to matter that if the author had left those two little words out, they would have agreed with the rest of it–in its entirety.

A week or so ago, I was in an e-mail chain where a discussion was taking place about an article written on a well-known and well-respected site.  The comment was made that the site should not have allowed this particular article to be published.  I was aghast!  The last time I looked, the Constitution still had a First Amendment.  The site had every right to publish the article, just as the author yesterday had every right to express opinion in the blog post.

It is important to remember that every writer has his/her own style of writing.  A writer may have very good points to make.  Those points will be overlooked by those who are reading to be critical.  Please realize that while a writer may not use exactly the same words that you would use, or may have a different style of writing than you prefer to read, the crux of the article may be exactly on point.

Above all else, be a courteous reader and respond appropriately.  If you wouldn’t say it face to face to your best friend, don’t say it to a stranger behind the safety of your computer screen.

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