This may come as a shock, but I’m judging you. Me, the one who always seems so friendly and chatty at birthday parties? The one who’s known as “the nice one” in more than one circle? The one who goes out of her way to make some sort of self-deprecating joke to make someone else feel at ease?
I am judging you.
From your style of discipline, to what you feed your kids, to your stance on vaccinations, I am judging the shit out of you.
Back in my schoolyard days, I was probably judging you based on whether or not you liked to climb the monkey bars or stuck to the swings. By middle school, I was overly concerned with your hair and what you were wearing, and as I matured into a judgmental teenager, you can bet your ass I added your musical tastes to the mix.
Judging has always been in my nature, and I’d argue that it’s in everyone’s. We judge people every single day, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you mention that you love to travel, I’m going to judge you as a useful resource when planning my next trip. We make positive judgment calls everyday, determining who seems like a potential friend or whom we would trust to care for our children.
Just don’t try telling me that you’re only making positive judgments about people. There’s a yin to every yang. If you notice how beautiful a woman’s sweater is, you’re certainly going to notice the one that’s tacky as shit. Positive or negative, one thing is certain: If we meet, I am going to be judging you.
The thing is, though, you’ll never know. Because while I may be judgmental, I’m not a judgmental asshole.
My judgment doesn’t mean I think you’re a bad person. I know there’s more to you than your co-sleeping or the fact that you think Olive Garden serves authentic Italian dishes. Your stance on spanking will determine whether or not I allow you to look after my children, but it isn’t going to make me write you off as a whole person.
When I judge you negatively, I am internally acknowledging that I think a particular opinion or choice of mine is superior to yours. My judgment, however, does not mean that I’m a better person than you. It certainly doesn’t prevent me from seeing what a fabulous person you are, and I wouldn’t want it to prevent us from being friends — which is why I keep my thoughts to myself.
If I tell you chain restaurants are for teenagers, are you going to stop enjoying your favorite quesadilla on your Tuesday date night? No. Would I even want you to? Of course not. So what’s the point? Expressing your judgment reaches a new level: You are no longer judging someone, but shaming them.
If I’m genuinely concerned for you or your family, and you are a close, personal friend, then perhaps I can ask you if you’ve considered alternatives to feeding your kid Skittles for dinner every night. If I’m a stranger, then I’m going to keep my mouth shut while your little one tastes the rainbow and receives visits from the tooth fairy before his 3rd birthday. Because your life is none of my business.
Expressing your judgment on the internet makes you one of life’s special assholes. And mothers, historically known for their nurturing and loving natures have become experts at filling this role. You can’t glance at a comment section without finding out that every parenting decision you’ve ever made is wrong. Whether debating breast versus bottle or baby carrier over stroller, a stranger is eager to shame you for your decision.
Has anyone ever changed because a stranger on the internet told them they are a horrible mother for continuing to drink coffee while pregnant? I’m sure most of you are judging me right now. And that’s fine. I get it. But if you think telling me that you feel sorry for my children for having such an awful mother is going to make me change, you’re wrong. You’re just letting me (and the world) know that you judge a person’s entire life based on one minuscule little glimpse. And that you have enough time on your hands to comment about the lives of strangers.
The internet is a beautiful thing. It allows us to stay connected to the global community and puts an insane amount of information right at our fingertips. Lately, it seems that the internet primarily serves as an outlet for angry, unhappy trolls to assert their superiority by putting others down. If I took internet comments to heart, I should probably just drive my kids to Child Protective Services myself. Surely, foster care or a group home would better serve their needs than a mother who only breastfed her babies for two months and chose to vaccinate them. I’m also pretty sure my kids’ eventual adoptions should be closed based on the amount of pasta with butter I have fed them.
By the way, you should be judging me. Take your pick from the items above and add to them exponentially. I let my small children pick out their own clothes, my 6-year-old only listens to 20% of what I say, and some might argue that I drink too much wine (I may or may not judge those people as lame). I’d judge you if you didn’t judge me. You may leave my house thinking about hiring me a cleaning service, but I also hope you notice that my husband and I are raising two extraordinarily happy and hilarious daughters. Maybe one of us even made you laugh a few times. Basically, I hope there’s a yin to your yang.
I’m a firm believer that the universe gives back to you what you give it (go ahead and judge me on that one). So I plead with you, no matter how negative your judgy thoughts go, do the world (and yourself) a favor, and keep them to yourself.