Why the web is addicted to the hyper critical

Or, why unsolicited fit critiques will never go away.

Thank you to you guys in the comments and on threads for continuing to create one of the best, most civil, and most useful forums on the web. Even when guys are asking for criticism, like in “how does this fit?” threads, you guys offer great, well-said advice, and understand that perfect is the enemy of good. The majority might not comment, but numerous have said over email that they have learned plenty from the feedback and great tips left in the comments on Dappered.


“Sleeves are too short” … “I’d make fun of anyone who wore that” … “Awful.”


Wait. Hang on. Who asked you?

How many times have we all seen someone offer up a negative, unrelated and unasked for, way-too-picky or over-the-top opinion on a WIWT thread or post about men’s style? It rarely if ever happens around here, but wherever it happens, it usually has to do with fit, or maybe the coordination of an outfit. There’s always someone waiting to shout from the peanut gallery about the one loose thread they think they saw now that the spotlight has been turned on the subject.

Yet this never happens in real life. You’d never see someone walk up to a well dressed guy in a restaurant and attempt to pick his outfit apart. But why not? Is it the fear of getting punched in the teeth that keeps in-person projectile criticism at bay?

Maybe. But there might be something else going on here. When it comes to the web, it feels like plenty of creators and publishers are perpetuating this hyper-critical climate on purpose. An audience that throws eggs and rotten produce at the performers (or each other in the comments/on message boards) is what many might actually want.

These are the users who are most invested. Who for whatever reason, leach bits of self-worth from pointing out the tiniest of “flaws” in others. And these are the ones who are being harvested the most by those who provide them this opportunity to point and criticize.

These users are active. These users are letting their voice be “heard.” These users might not have a lot of pull in the real world, but they’ve cultivated some individuality on the web. And since they have it here, they let it rip.

It’s no accident that the internet has created an epidemic of inflated self worth. It’s much easier to sell something to someone when they feel like they deserve it. How do you make someone feel like they deserve something? Simple. Make them feel special, even if they’re not.

Especially if they’re not.

And one of the easiest places to do that is on the web.

It’s royalty in reverse. We the masses have been elevated on a sea of individual pedestals, carved from the virtual stone of extensively crafted facebook pages, tweets aimed at celebrities, and comments sections asking “what do you think?” no matter how serious or sophisticated the subject. It’s intoxicating. Opinions flow freely on the internet because credibility doesn’t matter. As long as you’re there. That’s all they want.

You used to have to work to gain a platform. Prove yourself before you could get up on stage and be the star of a show or give a lecture. You used to have to earn it. Now it requires little to no effort, and you’re being begged, BEGGED to address the room.

The problem is, you’re never looking out at an auditorium full of patrons hanging on your every word. Instead, you’re staring right back at another stage. Millions of stages in fact. All of which have another individual “performing” for everyone, yet absolutely no one at the same time.

All while the theater owners go through your wallet.

your own personal theater Top Photo Credit: Gabe AustinBotton Photo Credit: Max Wolfe