News / October 2015

(NOT) EVERYONE'S A CRITIC

Seeking truth and light? Want to know what’s good? Forget the aggregated opinions of the everyman masses and trust in the critical elite.

There's an old meme that reads: 'You're not deep. You're not an intellectual. You're not an artist. You're not a critic. You're not a poet. You just have internet access.' Today, of course, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, everyone has internet access - everywhere. And with the proliferation of UGC-hungry social networks and apps crowdsourcing ratings for all aspects of human existence and experience, the touchscreen-tapping masses are eagerly encouraged to constantly feed the content beast - post, share, relate, comment and rate. 'Tell us what you think!'

Fine. Free expression is a wonderful thing, and everyone's got the right to an opinion. Agreed. But the thing is, most people probably shouldn't be putting their points of view out there for mass consumption. Joe (or Josephine) Public is quite simply unqualified.

The average person, by definition, is one of average tastes, average talent, and average intelligence. As the aforementioned meme says, they're not deep or intellectual, and before the system of democratised self-publishing that is blogging came along, their chances of seeing their thoughts broadcast beyond their immediate circle of family and friends would've been nigh upon nil. The average person is not an aesthete - no gifted photographer, designer or artist - and while back in the day their visual musings would've remained the private province of photo albums, scrapbooks and mantelpiece pics, the mediocre sights of mediocre lives are now published pan-planetary via Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. Nor are they poets, yet the haiku-like format of Facebook and Twitter status updates leads legions of the extraordinarily ordinary to believe they're gifted wordsmiths and incisive, concise social commentators - or worse still, critics, qualified to publicly pass judgment on the performance, actions, products, services, beliefs and opinions of others. (All too kindly, too - statistics suggest that the average rating given to anything online is an easy, breezy 4.3 out of five. To the casual online reviewer, 'Everything is awesome!')

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.