Critiquing (anything these days) has become all to negative for me. I don’t mind anyone, everyone in fact, having their own opinion about anything at all. There is no such thing as a wrong opinion; you believe what you believe for the reasons that are uniquely your own. What does bug the hell out of me is people believing “to critique” means to “find fault with”. Yes, I know, several dictionaries will tell you this is true, but it’s not the definition I choose to use. You’ll hear critique used this way on all the performance reality shows and you’ll see it used this way in most, if not all, of the online photo clubs. Movie critics do it, art critics do it. It needs to stop.
I’m not sure why this happened, but as you’ll see below in the etymology of the word “critic” this is not its original meaning. So I’m taking back the word critic and its verb, critique.
Etymology of the word critic:
- 1580s, “one who passes judgment,” from Middle French critique (14c.)
- from Latin criticus “a judge, literary critic,”
- from Greek kritikos “able to make judgments,”
- from krinein “to separate, decide”
- Meaning “one who judges merits of books, plays, etc.” is from c.1600
- The English word always had overtones of “censurer, faultfinder.”
In short you don’t have to find fault with what you critique. A critique can be an assessment of everything that is good about a work. Next time you’re asked to critique something, remember this post and find everything you can that is good in what you are critiquing. Nobody wants to hear everything that is bad about their work. They probably do that enough on their own. Also, don’t think you have to have years of experience in order to critique someone’s work. Your opinion matters to them as much as the next person’s. Let them know what you like about the work. If you truly can find nothing you like, you can choose to not critique it. No one will ever know.
~ Daniel Kmiecik