Press "Enter" to skip to content

Critic’s math

Here is a simple equation that explains a great deal to me:

1 insult + 1,000 compliments = 1 insult.

Jon Acuff (author of Stuff Christians Like and Quitter) wrote in a recent blog about “critic’s math,” as he called it. He illustrates the point by retelling a story about Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, that appeared in Rolling Stone. Acuff writes:

Here is an excerpt of the piece by Brian Hiatt:

One night during his stay (in New York), David went to Yankee Stadium to see a game. His image went up on the big screen as Curb Your Enthusiasms theme song played over the big speakers. An entire stadium of fans stood and cheered for the hopeless case from Brooklyn. It should have been a life-defining moment, the redemptive final scene in the biopic. But as it turned out, not so much. As David left the stadium, a guy drove by and yelled, “Larry, you suck!” “That’s like, literally all he heard,” Berg (David’s friend) says.

1 insult + any number of compliments = 1 insult. This is far from E=mc2 in significance, but it sure explains all the nit-picky negativity I hear from time to time. Something in our DNA seems to amplify the negative. We hear the criticism so much clearer than the compliment. Then, because we hear it so much louder, we wind up sharing it. Eventually we find a great deal of negativity surrounding us, our work, our relationships, etc.

Maybe you and I should start a revolution of positivity. We could strive to never say another negative word. Further, when the conversation is going negative, we could find something positive to say to steer the conversation back.

I think it would help because I am really tired of all those negative people. Ooops. OK, let’s start… now!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.