No Criticism Without Jealousy?

In the video above, I posit that:

“There is no sense in which a criticism (whether legitimate or illegitimate) could not also be motivated by jealousy.”

That doesn’t automatically invalidate the criticism, but it gives a potential context for its emergence. 

The examples used in the video above pertain mostly to criticism of (and as) entertainment –  But let’s look at a few more examples.

Take a mother criticizing her teen daughter for staying out late at night: She is very likely Not motivated by envy/jealousy, and is primarily concerned with her child’s safety and wellbeing. But you Could infer that there is a sense in which that jealousy Could exist – that the mother could be jealous of her daughter’s youth and young abandon, her naive rebellion, and the general “grass is always greener” phenomenon in general.

Even homeless people living on the streets New York could possibly elicit envy from a stockbroker: The lack of responsibility, the anonymity, the perceived laziness and freedom, the “carefree” life (lol) – all of these could be at the center of why a stockbroker would sneer at, chastise, freak out at, or even immolate a homeless person. It’s not likely the conscious motivation that the stockbroker would be cognizant of, and may not lay at the root of the criticism / outburst at all – but it conceivably could be understood as such.

While not a foolproof absolute, I would say the evidence largely supports this assertion (that there is no criticism that could not Also be motivated by jealousy) – i.e: Not every criticism is motivated by jealously, but all criticisms conceivably (or hypothetically) Could be.

Bear in mind, this is not meant to belittle criticism, nor jealousy or envy for that matter. Jealousy / envy are not necessarily bad things, when (like criticism) they are used constructively – in fact, they can often be the impetus for true change.

I don’t mean to discourage people from criticism, nor would I look down on someone for envying or being jealous of someone.  Criticism fills a crucial need, and is needed today perhaps more than ever. Instead of discouraging criticism or pointing the finger, I suppose the intention with the idea / the above video is to offer a quick psychological self-check – allowing a lens through which to view criticism, which may allow one to reflect on potential conscious or even subconscious motivations therefore.

Also, when I refer to jealousy or envy, I don’t mean ‘rampant obsession’ or ‘desire for revenge,’ or even necessarily anything conscious – I believe that the mere existence of voluntary/unsolicited criticism means you must view yourself beneath the subject of critique – you thereby attempt to assert the inverse, by tearing down the pedestal that you or others have foisted them upon.

One could say critics are offering alternatives, or presenting “constructive criticism,” (which, for the purposes of this discussion, we can consider somewhat distinct from “regular” criticism) – I would say that this also could still be motivated by envy/jealousy, as they are essentially saying “I know how/what to do, better than the people who do it.”

Now, there actually can be some truth to that otherwise pompous assertion – one of my favorite sayings is “the spectator sees more of the game (than the players),” …but the fact that someone is constantly offering their “much better ideas,” and yet has usually not elevated themselves at all in the field that they are critiquing (look at RedLetterMedia’s shitty movies, Linkara’s comics, the Channel Awesome movies – the latter of which, ngl, I do enjoy – but they come No Where Close to being as well done as the majority of the movies/media that they themselves are constantly ripping apart!), indicates that they are critiquing from the position of a consumer (in their criticism of media), yet desire to be appreciated as a producer (in the creation of their own content). This is something I am guilty of myself – perhaps we all are – so I am in no way separate from or above those whom I critique in this video or elsewhere.

Again, just because all criticism Could be motivated by jealousy, it doesn’t mean any/all of it IS motivated by jealousy – that is essentially for every person to discern for themselves.

The inferences I make about YouTube reviewers (which, in the above video, are paired with [or could be understood as] critiques/criticisms themselves) could be perceived as evidence of My Own envies: Hopefully I’m not jealous of Linkara writing a shitty comic book… or really of anything about his life specifically… but it’s undeniable that the attention and successes he’s achieved would be very welcomed in my own life… Now, I’m sure I would regret them all if I were to somehow be put in his shoes (or even were I to achieve that level of notoriety/infamy in my own way), but still, the point stands that there is a context in which a possible presence of envy/jealousy could exist between myself and Linkara (or anyone whom I would critique).

In fact, this rule goes double for me, and could be said (concerning me) of most the people in the above video (to varying and disparate extents) – namely that, to point all this out, and use the examples I chose, I clearly must have some sense of envy towards critics or content makers…

I’m willing to cede that – so long as it ensures that this assertion is confirmed as 100% right. 😎

So what do you think?

𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚙𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚜 𝚍𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚊𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚎 𝚘𝚛 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚊𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚠𝚑𝚢?

2 thoughts on “No Criticism Without Jealousy?

  1. Greetings!
    I think criticisms that are motivated by jealousy and/or envy are rooted in a person’s ego. I imagine there are possibly innumerable scenarios where one explanation and description of the situation is correct. Here’s one that I haven’t seen described:
    Person A has a passion for both painting, and bodybuilding. Person B is a masterful painter. Person A’s sense of self-worth is threatened by person B’s superiority in the domain of painting, and seeks to identify flaws in person B to feel better about himself. He ultimately criticizes Person B for being overweight. The criticism is brutally honest and accurate.
    In many cases there is value in receiving feedback no matter how harsh. Enemies provide a wealth of feedback when attacking your weaknesses, which can then be worked on and eliminated; a continuous improvement process.
    A scenario that is unlikely to be motivated by envy and/or jealousy:
    An experienced rock-climber is paired up with a novice. The novice will be responsible for belaying the experienced climber on his ascend. Since the experienced climber’s life will be in the novice’s hands, the experienced climber “criticizes” the novice’s adherence to proper procedure when belaying, in preparation for the actual ascend.
    Sure, even in this scenario the novice climber can perceive the experienced climber’s feedback to be motivated by jealousy and/or envy. “he’s correcting me because he’s envious of my full head of hair; haters always gonna hate.”
    The perceived motivation depends on factors that may include:
    1. The relationship between the two. General impressions of each other, personal information shared, etc.
    2. The word choice, voice (tone & inflection), and non-verbal communication cues used by the experienced-climber, and the novice’s interpretation of the interaction/exchange.
    3. The overall psychology of the novice/interpreter (personality type, attitudes based on prior experiences, insecurities, etc.)
    My understanding of this topic and it’s possible implications:
    This topic is an examination of the possibility that any attempt at pointing out a flaw can be interpreted by the recipient to contain some degree of jealousy or envy, whether present or not. If that possibility can never be eliminated, the implication may be that any selfless, genuine attempt at helping a fellow human being for the benefit of the greater good will always have the chance of being met with a kind of “cynical resistance”. This would be a pesky hurdle that will never be eliminated when attempting to promote positive change through something like Unism.
    Question: Is the word “criticism” being used broadly to also describe an effort to “critique”? The former sounds harsher while the latter seems to describe a more neutral approach for providing constructive feedback.
    In it’s execution, a true critique has a lower likelihood at being perceived to contain feelings of envy and/or jealousy, but even if it’s a true critique, there will always be the possibility of it being perceived as somehow being motivated by jealousy and/or envy. The broad range of possibilities is consistent with the possibility for both “good” and “evil” to exist.


    1. Very well said and formulated.

      The painting/bodybuilding example you mention does illustrate the dynamic excellently, namely, that the object of jealousy may be tangential to the point of criticism.

      More so, the point you raise about ego being the root of such exchanges, I would say holds true for Both sides: the person whose criticism is in fact motivated by jealousy is indeed driven by ego, As well as the person who would dismiss criticism based on the mere suspicion of jealousy (the novice rock climber, a new military recruit; perhaps anything where life and death or serious injury are involved) –

      Concerning the “pesky hurdle” and the three factors, I find this should caution us to formulate criticisms as conscientiously as possible, knowing that divergent psychological types or factors can predispose certain persons to unreasonable reactions – In the same way a drill instructor’s harsh methods are ill suited to elicit positive change from a mentally ill/perpetually fragile type.

      And to your question, the difference between criticism and critique is well raised; I would suppose that critique implies some existing relationship or at least the implication thereof, whereas criticism can be used far more one-sidedly.
      I would say that jealousy is far more likely to exist where no direct relationship exists, whereas critique is used in situations where mutual benefit could/would arise.

      Amazing comment, thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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