Laughing With Them, Not At Them

By Michael Roderick  -  On 20 Jan, 2015 -  0 comments

While out at dinner the other night, this event was mentioned and some laughter was shared around the idea that someone with celebrity status would not be aware of something so “basic.” As I listened to the story and thought about the headlines surrounding it, something else started to bubble up for me. This was not the first time I had seen this situation. In fact, my newsfeed was filled with scenarios like this where someone didn’t know where a particular state was, or wasn’t aware of the difference between fruits and vegetables, or wasn’t aware of some other thing that we’re all supposed to “know.” It started to make me aware of the fact that something is happening here that is damaging our ability to connect and causing us to shame others:

We are creating a Judgment Culture.

If we think about it, before the age of the internet, plenty of people made mistakes and forgot the things they learned in elementary school. They might have been mentioned briefly in a gossip column, but they weren’t cannon fodder for hundreds of thousands of people. All I’ve been thinking about since the dinner conversation around that video is how I have had instances in my own life where I have forgotten something I learned when I was a kid and made to feel stupid for it or made to feel like the other because of it. If you think about it, if you are an artist or have chosen to pursue a specific area of study that takes up most of your life, then there are things that you actually may not remember from grade school. Should you no longer be able to practice your craft because you’re not “smarter than a fifth grader”? Are you laughable because you’ve chosen to let certain things slip so that you can remember other things that help you in your craft? I don’t think so.

This begs the question of what one does when faced with this knowledge. My plan is pretty simple. I just am committing to being more aware of it. Before I click on that link about how someone can’t spell or doesn’t know what state they’re next to, I’ll take a moment to acknowledge that I don’t know everything and that there are things I don’t remember that would make me just as “worthy” of that negative attention. And maybe, just maybe when I remember that, I won’t click.

And perhaps if enough people stop clicking on pieces that judge others, perhaps people will stop writing them.

Then maybe we’ll spend less time judging and making fun of others and more time connecting with them.

That’s something I’d like to see go viral.