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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Criticising Constructively

In my Psychology class as a way of introducing us to the peculiar world of renowned Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud, we were asked 'If you could do anything you wanted without any consequences whatsoever, what would it be?'

Mr Tubman asked 'Whose has got anything to do with money?' Tom and I raised our hands up. Tom said 'Rob a bank' and I said 'Get all the money in the world'. Mr Tubman then asked ‘Whose has got anything to do with sex? I’m not really interested in knowing what though’. A couple of girls raised their hands up.

Laura then said 'Go shopping without having to pay for anything' and another girl said 'Eat chocolate naked'. The next day Mr Tubman said to us 'I was talking to Mrs Tubman last night about what we did last class and when I told her all the things you said you would do if you could she said ‘Oh dear! No one said anything about saving the world or ending poverty'.

As a way of confronting my guilt I remarked 'Well, if I had all the money in the world I would be able to end world poverty'. Mr Tubman replied saying 'Don't give me that, Mayowa’. As if he could read my mind he said “You’re just saying that cos you feel guilty”.

This incident got me thinking. Most if not all human beings are self centred. Our primary audience is me and anything to help me. This episode highlights the feeling of greed we humans possess. It's not only the numerous politicians and bankers who have been accused of financial misappropriation that possess it. We love to criticise others but God knows what would happen if we stood in their shoes. We love to say how different we are from other people but all that does is show how like the others you are. If you were different you wouldn't need to tell people, they would tell you.

Ironically I am guilty of this ‘crime’. When talking to girls who have had bad experiences with boys I tend to tell them how different I am from their previous boyfriends. What does that say of me? It would be much wiser if you draw your own conclusions. As a big football fan, I used to find it funny listening to footballers who come from non Anglophone countries. Their accents and their ability to make the most basic grammatical errors are comic relief. That was until my dad said to me 'If you went to France today and you tried to speak French don't you think people would laugh at you'. This episode made me see things differently.

Criticism is a way of life but like all things it has been taken too far. It is okay to criticise whilst suggesting possible corrections to a piece of work which explains why some people make their daily bread from constructive criticism. It is always sad reading people who have good points/arguments make things personal. It takes the merit out of their debates and causes a deficit in getting their points across because the truth is at the end of the day I would remember the insults and not the possibly sensible points in the argument. Any time I visit a news website the first thing I do is read the comments below as they express the most accurate measure of public opinion on the issues in question. Sometimes they make a lot of sense, other times they come off as being products of misinformed minds and on a lot of occasions they serve as comic relief.

Around the time Maryam Babangida’s death was rumoured in the press (This was before she actually died ), one of my internet voyages led me to a website where it was announced that she was dead The things I saw on that website almost made me weep. A lot of hurtful and unprintable things were written which I would prefer not to justify with elaboration. It is an unknown secret that Babangida had an unsuccessful tenure as Nigerian leader but it’s gone too far when people say things I saw on that website. Consider the fact that some of this people possibly benefited directly or indirectly from her unique policies towards achieving self emancipation for women.

My point is not that we shouldn’t be critical of people. Constructive criticism entails doing things in an acceptable manner without setting out to hurt the feelings of the people at the brunt of the criticism. We should also instil the spirit of Empathy (Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes) and try to understand.

The quote “Hate the sin but love the sinner” could not have been more accurate.”


  1. You cant put yourself in their shoes or feel guilty about thinking about yourself primaryly.You are not oblidged with any duty to serve any one, you were just simply asked a question which i'm sure even those in poverty would have picked your choice or even worse wished those that put them in poverty were in poverty.you cant satisfy the world just to displease yourself at end.
    -the mentalist.


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