Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Society of Judgement

I've noticed something lately, and it's a bit disturbing.

We are a society of judges.

Photo by Salvatore Vuono, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Maybe it's the prevalence of blogs, the psuedo-security of the perceived anonymity of social media like Facebook, or the focus on building everyone's self-esteem so they think they're more important than others, but I've noticed an awful lot of people spewing judgments lately.

Most of the time they don't have a lot of information, either.

For example, a few weeks ago, Melissa Rycroft hurt her neck during rehearsal of Dancing With the Stars. Possibly in an attempt to make sure people tuned in to the show, not much was released about the incident in which she injured herself.

Prior to watching the show, I came across an article talking about how Melissa should leave the flipping and crazy stunts to Shawn Johnson because as the mother of a young child she shouldn't risk such a serious injury. While there might be some validity to that assessment - Melissa does try some risky things - I had several problems with the article.

1. Melissa was injured doing a fairly basic move. 

At the time of the article, the true nature of the accident was unknown, but the author just assumed it was a fall during a daring lift. She made her assessment according to that assumption.

It wasn't correct.

Melissa doing some awesome dancing on DWTS. 
In truth, Melissa's injury was one of those freak accident kind of things - like when you turn around too fast when someone talks to you and manage to twist your ankle. Her tennis shoe gripped on the floor and her body twisted funny, causing the injury.

2. The author made assumptions about Melissa's background.

At one point the author says "Melissa was just on The Bachelor" so she shouldn't be doing these crazy stunts and flips.

Melissa was actually a professional cheerleader prior to her Bachelor days. She made be a little further from her flipping and twirling days than Shawn is, but that's a background that would inspire some fancy moves and risk. Admittedly, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are more of a dance team than a flipping team, but the physical stamina and abilities are still higher than your average woman. That background would inspire me to be a bit riskier.

Then there's the whole Lance Armstrong debacle.

Now, I'm not an avid sports fan, so I haven't pored over every available article or know all the minute details about the case, but from the several things I have seen, the average person doesn't know much.

Here's about all I've been able to find out:
        - The USADA is charging Lance Armstrong with using banned substances and doping.
        - They have several former teammates who will testify to this - some of which are athletes who failed drug tests after previous major races.
        - Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test after winning a race (or ever that I can find documented).
        - Lance is tired of fighting the accusations, which he claims are false, so he is dropping his opposition to the charges.

Photo by de:Benutzer:Hase, via Wikimedia Commons
I'll be honest - that's not a lot of information. It's enough for a lot of people though. There's even several people demanding that charitable donations to Lance Armstrong's charity be returned. Nowhere in any of the articles I've seen does anyone dispute the fact that Armstrong beat testicular cancer or accuse his charity of misusing funds. Also, despite the USADA and several media outlets attempts to make it so, Armstrong's cessation of defense does not equate to an admission of guilt.

I'm reminded of a girl in my high school. She had the reputation as the, ahem, easiest girl in the class. Jokes were made about her, people shunned her, and pretty much her reputation was in shreds. In what is probably the natural progression of that type of reputation, the rumor started that she was pregnant.

I actually talked to her once after this rumor started spreading. She told me she was a virgin and that all of that stuff had been made up. Maybe I'm naive, but I believed her. Given the fact that her belly never got big and she didn't suddenly "move away" for six months, I'm inclined the think the rumors were false.

Maybe Lance is in that kind of position. There's a lot of people saying something different than what he's saying. And because we like to judge, we want the naysayers to be right. It seems we want people to do wrong things and make bad decisions so we can judge them out of turn and have something to talk about on our many blogs and talk shows and entertainment columns.

I don't know if we're snapping to these judgments so we can feel important or smart, or maybe to feel victimized by life, but I don't want a part of it.

That isn't to say that there aren't things or people that are wrong or that we can never stand on the fact/opinion that some things are right or wrong. All I'm calling for is that we gather as much information as we can and we be willing to say when we don't have enough.

Have you noticed a spirit of judgment in yourself or those around you? What can we do to help each other stop, take a breath, and do a little research before pronouncing judgement on each other?


  1. I don't know if it's more about judgement or more about having the upper hand. People today are passionate about knowledge and facts (even incorrect ones) in order to wield a bigger hammer to whack someone unsuspecting over the head with it, and get complemented whilst doing so. I think our society, more and more, is feeling the loss of the absolutes we find in scripture (as they've turned away) and filling the void with whatever they can. At least...that's what I think :)

  2. April, I think you may be on to something there. Especially with twitter and facebook and the like where the first to put something out there is the "winner". In the race to "win" people sometimes grab whatever they can whether it's true or not.

  3. All have sinned...etc. We need to keep our eternal perspective and love as he loved us.