Reading Critically vs Reading to Criticise

One of the types of YouTube videos that I enjoy watching the most are “sins videos”, so right off the bat you know that I’m not immune to being extremely petty. My enjoyment of such videos only increases if I have a deep connection to the thing that is getting picked apart because I like the feeling of seeing things torn down and have them still stand up to critical reading. As someone who consumes a lot of popular media, there’s no shortage of criticism for the things that I love, so I can’t help but revel in the positive-negative cycle.

That being said, I’m also aware that it’s considered “cool” to unironically hate things that are popular and to call people who like those things disparaging names. I understand the urge to do things like that because I’ve been there myself. For me, I felt the need to set myself apart from the crowd and that was my shot at doing that without actually having to deal with loneliness of liking something different to every one else. You can’t get made fun of for liking something if no one knows what you like, right? At least, that’s what I thought.

While it isn’t inherently wrong to criticise something, especially if it’s done in a constructive manner, I can’t help but think that it has become the norm to actively look for flaws. I’ve done it before too. Sometimes I’m sitting in the dark cinema surrounded by people who dragged me to a movie that I KNOW isn’t something I’d like, and I lean back and poke fun of it, probably in an attempt to make every one around me feel as miserable as I did. My brain had already been set on auto-pilot and the snarky and biting remarks were already queued to post. I just had to wait for the right moment to send it out into the void.

I’ve done it with books too. When I first read Twilight I didn’t 100% like it but I also didn’t hate it. But once it became the “cool thing” to hate on it, every single book after I bashed with my rants and comments. I honestly didn’t even feel invested in the text itself but there I was being overemotional about it anyway. That isn’t reading critically. That’s reading to criticise.

The difference between reading critically and reading to criticise is the point at which you realised you dislike the text. 

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