Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » George Q. Cannon Speaks Out Against Internet Snark
 


George Q. Cannon Speaks Out Against Internet Snark

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 08, 2010

Yeah, I know George Q. Cannon died in 1901 – Al Gore hadn’t even been thought of then, much less the Internet. But aside from that picky detail, can’t you read every word of this 1872 article as referring to some of our online interactions?

There are more ill feelings caused by the simple act of criticism than many persons imagine. It is a habit, too, to which many of us are addicted – a habit that grows upon us imperceptibly to ourselves, but often painfully apparent to others. There are times when a kindly and just criticism of another’s actions or words, may do good, but in most cases volunteered criticism has anything but a soothing and happy effect. For a person to have for a constant associate one who is continually in the habit of criticising him, may be compared to living between the glasses of a microscope. It is a courtesy that we all ought to extend to others, to respect their opinions, and never wound their sensibilities by rudely criticising their actions or words.

The worst of all criticism is the jeering style. A man might as well try to conciliate a cat by treading on its tail, or make a dog his friend by kicking him, as to please a man while thus picking flaws in him. Yet such self-constituted censors are to be met with every day. They imagine themselves perfect in judgment while every other person they consider an ignoramus. Many a light heart is saddened, many a happy face flushed and many a sensitive mind wounded by the cruel or thoughtless sarcasm of a too forward critic.

A person has no business to become so familiar with another as to forget the courtesy that is due from him. In order to please, we need not yield to the tastes and opinions of others, for every person has a right to have tastes and opinions of his own, and the same are entitled to respect, though they may not accord with those of his neighbor. Children would do well to remember these things and make it a rule in their lives to forbear harshly censuring or criticising their fellows.

Criticism, however, administered in a kindly spirit and in mild words from a person of wisdom to an inferior in that respect often has a good effect, but even then it is more acceptable in the form of counsel or advice.



9 Comments »

  1. I was about to name names, but then caught myself in a moment of uncommon clarity. Timely advice, even 138 years later.

    This last paragraph, though, still smacks of 19th century class consciousness:

    Criticism, however, administered in a kindly spirit and in mild words from a person of wisdom to an inferior in that respect often has a good effect, but even then it is more acceptable in the form of counsel or advice.

    When dispensing my invaluable opinions to my social inferiors, I always do try to frame it in terms of “counsel or advice”. ;)

    Comment by kevinf — March 8, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

  2. Ha! I wondered if that would be caught! I think, though, that he was actually trying to be tactful, that the “inferior” didn’t mean social inferiors, but one “inferior in wisdom” (i.e., “in that respect”). Better than calling someone a moron or whatever it is that they’re saying on the Tribune comment boards these days.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 8, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  3. It was all I could do to stop myself from using that exact word about someone who entered some completely implausible information (birth date after death date, and a half-century after the purported mother’s death) in New Family Search.

    When I saw the next day that the comments are shown there–for all time, I suppose–I was glad that I had shown some restraint.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 8, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

  4. Yeah. The contributor *was* a moron, no question there, but at least you’re not on permanent record (there) as saying so!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 8, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  5. Ah, when people get too critical on FB, I just de-friend them.

    Comment by queuno — March 8, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

  6. Is that why I don’t get status updates from you, queuno? I didn’t mean to offend you, only to “counsel my inferior.” :P

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 8, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  7. Wow — thanks for this. I especially loved the ingenious wisdom of this line:

    “A person has no business to become so familiar with another as to forget the courtesy that is due from him.”

    Comment by Hunter — March 8, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  8. All things considered, I hope those folks who exhibit less than celestial intelligence when inputting spurious or implausible information into New Family Search, get to spend a little extra time waiting in spirit paradise for their efforts. As they say, whatever intelligence, or lack thereof, we obtain (or fail to exercise properly) will rise with us in the resurrection. Their motives are good, but that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

    Comment by kevinf — March 8, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  9. There are times when a kindly and just criticism of another’s actions or words, may do good, but in most cases volunteered criticism has anything but a soothing and happy effect.

    I hope for the wisdom to know the difference.

    Comment by Bookslinger — March 9, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI