December 20, 2022

“An acquaintance shared photos wearing a vegany sweatshirt…while gutting a fish.”

“An ability to listen to and learn from and discuss constructive criticism—

…in our relationships, on social media comment threads, with our mentors, with ourselves—it’s everything.

And it’s too rare, these days.” ~ Waylon H. Lewis

Yesterday, an acquaintance of mine who I like and follow on social shared photos wearing a vegan-friendly sweatshirt…while gutting a fish. I looked in the comment section, expecting a flood of confused comments. Nothing. Even beyond nothing, folks were saying “where do I get that dope sweatshirt!?”

You know those three questions? Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Kind, of course, can be critical, if respectful, intended to be helpful, and fact-based.

And so I commented, respectfully, that there was a disconnect between the message on the sweatshirt and the detailed slides of a just-alive now-dead fish bleeding out, getting gutted.

The response was vague and cheerful and…obfuscating. And it got liked up.

This is what social media encourages: cults of personality. PR. It’s all positive, or all negative. We build ’em up, we tear ’em down.

We can do better. For on the other side of the mild discomfort that comes with offering or receiving criticism…a discomfort that gets more mild with practice, leaning in…is community! Instead of cult.

What’s more healthy and interesting and sexy than cult is…constructive criticism. It gives us vulnerability, that little hurt, that feeling of openness. That our hearts our on the line. But if we can rest in that feeling…we can become used to it, breathe through it, relax into it, and feel fully, and learn when we’re offered fair and respectful and fact-based criticism.

The space between trolls on the one hand, and sycophants on the other, is a space that is good for us.


“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”~ James Baldwin⁠

There is need, in this world, for fair and respectful criticism. Instead, social media gives us hate and trolling on the one hand, and sycophancy, online mobs, and cults of personality on the other.⁠

Elephant is, and has long been, intended to provide a space for real dialogue, disagreement, learning, listening, growth, coming together…an active sort of peace.⁠

I hope you’ll get our newsletter: elephantjournal.com/best⁠

I hope you’ll write: elephantjournal.com/post⁠

I hope you’l invest your care and love in this, last, independent community, when all the others are bought up or sold for scrap or watered down or co-opted by Big Tech, which cares mostly about quarterly returns, not being of benefit. ⁠


Here’s our latest Walk the Talk Show video/podcast, on how to work with your Habitual Patterns to give your brain a break. 

Read more here.

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