I silently judge every person I meet.
There, I said it.
If you’ve hung out at a party with me, I’ve passed judgment on your behavior. If you’ve interacted with me online, whether professionally or personally, I’ve judged your responses. I even judge people I don’t know — at the grocery store, in the aisles of Target, in traffic.
All day, every day, I study the people around me, and I judge, judge, judge.
One could even accuse me of being a judgmental bitch. But, I’m not. Quite the contrary, in fact.
You see, I’m not judging people for their activities or what they are doing in their daily lives. Rather, I’m judging the assholes who are making our world meaner and angrier as they hand down unfair judgments to people who are just doing the best they can. Whether it’s a mom who’s struggling to parent her difficult child, a same-sex couple hoping to finally get married, or someone demonstrating their right to declare their political feelings, if you openly judge them for their decisions I’m going to judge you and your douchecanoe judgment right back.
Yes, I see the irony here.
The advent of the internet and social media has taken away the hand-to-hand combat of talking behind someone’s back or judging people’s actions in public. We no longer have to answer for our comments because we can hide behind screens and fake online names as we tear down another human being. Combine anonymity with the instant gratification that accompanies a Tweet or a text and we’ve become a society that’s willing to grab our pitchforks at the drop of a hat.
Before we know the full story, we have sentenced a person to hard time from the court of public opinion. And, when I see that kind of behavior, whether from my friends or online interactions, I instantly want to defend the poor soul whose mistake has suddenly become tabloid fodder.
Remember that woman who watched in horror as her child was dragged by a gorilla at the zoo? Her son was barely at the hospital before the online trolls were out in full force, ready to crucify a parent who had just suffered the worst day of her life. The parents who lost their precious son to an alligator while on a family vacation? You’d have thought they were devil incarnate and the antichrist judging from the comments under news stories about their tragedy.
When did that suddenly become okay? When did we as a society decide that being hurtful in reaction to another person’s heartache was the correct course of action?
For these reasons, I judge. And I judge hard.
In both instances, I had immediate compassion for those poor parents. Every damned day, I find myself hoping and praying that I don’t make a parenting mistake that will become the Parenting Fuck-Up Seen ‘Round The World. Every time I pull out of a parking spot, I hold my breath and worry that I won’t see a child in my rearview mirror. When I am out to dinner with my kids, I worry that I’ll freeze if they choke or that cameras will be rolling if I panic and forget CPR if they suddenly stop breathing.
Those parents did not wake up on those terrible days with the intention to hurt their children, and they are guilty only of loving their kids enough to want to spend time with them in a theme park and a zoo. While I pray that those poor people heal from their trauma, I also pray for the haters — because they will be assholes for all eternity. Haters and trolls need pity as they hide behind their computers like cowards. They also need a swift kick to the groin.
So, yes, I judge someone based on how they treat other human beings. I believe that a person’s character can be quickly defined by such things as manners, grace, and humility under fire. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we all have bad days — days when our emotions get the best of us and we don’t show our best selves. I get it. But if you regularly spew hatred and vitriol aimed at people you don’t know, or you purposely judge someone for their lifestyle, I am so judging you. And you don’t get a jury trial in my courtroom. Sorry, not sorry, judgehole.
Parenting is hard. Hell, life in general is hard. We all have struggles and strife that we have to navigate and manage every day. But, no amount of personal turmoil gives anyone the right to be mean or nasty just because the mood suits them when they happen to log on to Facebook. We are all our own worst critics and being a Judgy McJudgerson doesn’t do anything other that make you look like a sanctimonious hate monger.
So, just cut it out and think before you type. Stop for a minute and really put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you grab your pitchfork and join the angry mob. Or, walk away from your computer and go talk to someone face-to-face for a change. Save the judgment for the orange Oompa Loompa running for president and leave well-meaning parents alone.
You know that phrase “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” I’m sure. Maybe it should be changed to “Just be nice and don’t be an asshole.”
The world would be a nicer place for it, I bet.