I've written before about how much the internet loooooves getting judgmental and snarky about weddings, and I've even written about how these judgments can be freaking awesome and how there's a benefit to winning the Judgey Olympics:
I got a new perspective on the issue recently though from both an awesome Offbeat Bride commenter, and a book I'm reading. Let's talk about why it's awesome to get judgmental, and how to do it ways that don't fuck over ourselves, or other people.
Why getting judgmental about weddings can be awesome
I'm reading a book that has an interesting perspective on judgments, both in terms of their value and the risk. The Language of Emotion by Karla McLaren touches on how, in our efforts not to be judgmental and to be tolerant of everyone and their awesomeness, we've lost touch with how judgment is a natural and even healthy expression. Judgment is just your brain telling you “that thing doesn't work for me”… which is an awesome thing to know!
McLaren contends that the issue isn't with having judgments… it's with reducing yourself to name-calling and insults. She gave a great example of judging a rug. She points out you can have opinions and even feelings about the rug, and make a fair judgment about it… for example that the rug is not good choice for a high-traffic hallway, as it's not holding up as well as a different rug would. Awesome! You can cast this judgment without name-calling or attacking the rug: this is the ugliest rug I've ever seen! who the fuck picked out this awful rug?. McLaren points out that when you go the former route, you're making a valuable decision that helps you move forward with future choices and intelligence.
When you go the latter route and insult the rug, you're just hurting yourself:
I love how she makes the point here that name-calling is not only abusive to the target of the judgement (no shit, right?), but is actually damaging to the name-caller. While it gives a quick hit of righteousness and shared mockery (FUCK THAT'S SO UGLY AMMIRITE, WORLD?!), ultimately it's an embarrassment and doesn't actually advance your intelligence or future decision-making abilities.
Getting judgmental about weddings can hurt other people — not even the people being snarked on!
Ok, so of course being snarky about weddings can hurt the feelings of those who like the things you hate. (“I hate floral crowns,” you holler, as someone who just fell in love with a floral crown backs away feeling shitty about themselves.)
But maybe you feel ok about going on the attack because you don't do it AT people, you just quietly do it with friends. I get it: it's understandable that group snarking can feel sorta satisfying at times, but it's not even just that it's bad for you or the person you're snarking about… it can be bad for the people you're snarking WITH. As Offbeat Bride commenter MinnaKelly commented recently:
It's a great social tool, negativity, because tearing things down together is a shared activity. It's just also very, very damaging – even if you're not depressed, the person you're tearing things down with might be, and they're not going to walk away from the conversation with the same little endorphin rush you got from it.
Even if your snarking squad agrees that yes: floral crowns are positively the worst, yes, just the worst… you've still just dumped a pile of negativity on someone who may or may not have the resources to handle it. So yeah: snarking has the potential to hurt not just the target of your snark (duh), and you (who could be growing instead of just festering), but it also has the potential to drag down the people you're snarking with. Oof.
…Getting judgmental about wedding is still awesome!
Offbeat Bride has at times been critiqued for being too Pollyanna, or enforcing a value of “if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all,” which has never been our actual goal. Our values are focused on supporting folks making decisions that feel like an honest and authentic expression of themselves… and trust us: we know that with a readership as large and varied as ours, different readers are going to make VERY different decisions about what feels right for them.
For some of us, no makeup on our wedding day is rad. For others, we want to go full-face vintage burlesque uber-femme. For some of us working with a small budget, we'll go for balls-out opulence for 10 guests. For others of us, we want to invite as many people as possible, so maybe we'll go for cake and punch or even (gasp) crowdsourcing.
Consuming any sort of wedding media is an exercise in judgment and discernment — although that might be especially true for folks who get up to their elbows in Offbeatland. Since we feature weddings all along the spectrum of aesthetics, budget, style, and even (yes!) acceptable “good taste,” chances are about 100% that you're going to see something here that you really, REALLY do not like.
(Hell, I've been publishing this site now for almost nine years and I've featured a ton of weddings that are SO not my style! That's part of the fun!)
The lesson here isn't that judgement is bad or that you can only have nice thoughts ever LA LA LA! Oh, excuse me for having opinions! I was JUST SAYING! God, get a thicker skin! Your opinions are awesome! Your judgments are fabulous! …as long as you share them thoughtfully and use them as a way to make choices for yourself.
Not other people.
Judgments are awesome when they're used for shaping your own visions and clarifying what works for you and what doesn't. Judgements are less awesome when they're wielded as weapons of abuse or cultural control. Here on Offbeat Bride, we are 100% in support of you hating some of the stuff you see on our website — as long as you use the hate for your own personal development.