Do you know the story about Socrates and a sports event? According to this story, Socrates divides the people in an (ancient) sports event into four categories: (1) the athletes who want to push their limits and win, (2) the audience watching strangers sweat and enjoying the day with friends, (3) the vendors profiting from the event and finally, (4) the philosophers, who observe everyone and everybody and analyze what’s going on.
In today’s world with advanced technology, we can add another category to the story, (5) the sports commentator. He knows all the stats, he remembers how the athletes performed last year. He stands right next to the action but does not participate himself. He is good at criticizing how a ball is being kicked but cannot kick the ball himself.
In the agrarian society of yesteryear, the people were doers. The fields needed trimming, the sheep herding and the harvest collecting. If somebody stood next to a man ploughing a field, himself not doing anything yet busy letting everybody know how the job could be done better, I don’t believe he would have been much appreciated. The doer to critic ratio was healthier.
In today’s world, however, more and more people have gone over from being a doer to being a commentator. How much easier is it not to be a critic instead of producing something yourself? Also, in many ways, the critics are more appreciated than the doers. Just look at how much money an artist makes a month and compare that with your local newspaper’s art critic salary.
The net is filled with all sorts of critics. Just look at hanba, in my posts I have criticized the contemporary designer for copying the 50’s, postmodern artists for still being critical of the modern project, neoclassical architects for copying the ancient Greeks. Have I tried to design a contemporary chair or give suggestions to tomorrow’s architectural trends? -No.
Yet, I believe more detrimental than all the hobby bloggers combined is the output of the contemporary media business. I don’t even need to give an example. The media loves to tell how a country could be run better, how a military operation could have been run more successfully, what the policemen should have done in a given incident. A doctor should never have given his patient this or that medicine, the actress should never have dyed her hair a particular color etc.
It has always, since the ancient times, been easier to sit next to a doer and whine than to actually do something yourself. What is new is the skewed doer to critic ratio.
ps1: If anybody remembers how this story with socrates and the sports events actually goes, I’d love a recap… 🙂
ps2: This post is dedicated to my uncle who encourages me to keep writing this blog. 🙂
ps3: In my next post, I promise to do something, not just whine.