Soon after I moved to the US back in 2003 I began watching American Idol. Simon Cowell was the cherry on the cake.
I’m glad at the time his accent and my limited knowledge of the English language kept me from fully understand what he was saying, but as time went by and his way of talking translated into nasty words I was appalled at the rude / arrogant / malicious / unprofessional way he talked to the contestants. I found myself cringe every time he opened his mouth.
Over the years Simon continued to be the most hated judge on American Idol and, while his fortune and fame grew, part of it was due to his bullying. Then he moved to X-Factor, which unfortunately didn’t stop him from being mean, quite the opposite.
Whether we learned from him or not, the truth of the matter is that the Simon Cowell effect spread on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Youtube, and pretty much on every social media out there. From celebrities our kids look up to, to state presidents, to average Joes everyone feels free to bash anyone and everyone because they can, while hiding behind the safety of the screen.
One of the most interesting advice I got from an author when I was about to publish HIDDEN HEART, my first novel was: grow pigskin, like yesterday. I didn’t understand it right away and long time passed before I got its meaning. It happened when I received my first 2star review. I assure you all the other 4 and 5star reviews didn’t hold a candle to that bad one. I was beyond crushed and for a while I told myself I’m done writing, it’s not worth it and the pain too much.
I’m not saying that we need to butter up every time everyone sucks at something. I’m not saying we should never keep scores while our kids play football. And I’m not saying we need to reward mediocrity because we can’t hurt someone’s feelings.
What I’m saying is just do it graciously. Do it in such a manner that the person you offer critique doesn’t feel the need to hide under a rock and never to come out. Do it with the intend of helping that person, not hurting them. It’s true that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but, as William Hazlitt said, “A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” Be the miracle in one’s life, not a Simon Cowell.
As for me, I continued to write and 5 novels later, my skin is still mine as my precious momma birthed me over 40 years ago and once in a while a do wear a pullover made of … pigskin–safety before vogue. 😉