The Reception Dilemma (And How to Solve It)
Updated: May 6
When you become a public figure on the internet or in general, you will be faced with conflicting reviews of your performance in whatever field you are known for. Since you cannot please everyone, even the best of your work might be negatively reviewed, even if you receive a lot of positive feedback.
With your success as someone who is more well-known than the average individual, you have to make a choice about how you will relate to the different feedback you receive on your work. You can be a pessimist and let the negative energy from your critics flow through you, or you can ignore it completely in favor of your fans.
The thing is, when it comes to philosophy, neither of these methodologies should be preferred by the truth seeker. The main aim of the philosopher is to seek the truth, regardless of what it is. This means that both the critic and the fan could have some truth in their response to your work, regardless of how much you might despise critics in favor of fans.
One of the most biased feedback I have ever received was in fact extremely positive, from the headmaster of my former school. She said that I would be the most well-known philosopher of this century. While I was very flattered, I knew that this reception, while very nice, is not certain at all. There are countless other philosophy blogs on the internet, and philosophers in general, which makes this compliment very difficult to actualize. Even flattery could be wrong no matter how much it makes you feel good about yourself.
When facing the dilemma of reception, we need to know that much of it is more subjective than objective, even if there are grains of truth within them. It is often hard to distinguish, as receptions are often led by the emotion of the consumer or reader. However, the more emotional one is, the more likely they are to be ignoring some things that are not a part of the emotion that they are going with. We can simply call this emotional bias.
Another problem with this dilemma comes from the ad hominem fallacy, which ignores more of the work itself in favor of the worker themselves. Just in the previous article, I gave the example of someone being prioritized over me just because I don't have a degree and they do, in a totally irrelevant field other than the topic I commented on.
The problem with this fallacy is that it uses the person's disadvantages over the errors of the things he or she has said. Thus, if someone criticizes you over the content of your own material, then you can realize that the critic too is biased -- on people's credibility, or lack of it.
Finally, there is the ad populum fallacy. The fact that you, for instance, gain overwhelmingly positive reviews, doesn't mean by itself that said reviews are right. The problem with it nowadays is how easily an opposing critic can be attacked by others, like in a lynch, just because they wanted to shed another light on the picture; another narrative.
A true philosopher must look at the two sides of the coin before making a judgment on the value of his or her work. Unfortunately, however, philosophers are humans, too, with sensitivities and so forth, and the world will not necessarily care if you get offended, just because the critic shamed or insulted you. I moderate comments not by their opposite approach, but by the will of the critic to make me feel bad for doing something they disapprove of.
Because of that, it's hard relying on a comment that is fueled with either anger, hatred, or resentment. I cannot change my sensitivity, as it is embedded in my disabilities, so unfortunately some sacrifices are to be made if some people are not willing to comment in a mutually respectful manner.
So there you have it. When trying to use an external opinion regarding your work, the attribution of positivity and negativity should be given a lower priority. Regardless of the reception, you should come up with a counterpoint or at least check how logical the feedback sounds. It is like telling a person who suffers from morbid obesity that they are the most fit person you have ever met. It is a compliment, of course, but a doubtful one at best. Of course, this is just a random example with no intention to hurt anyone.
Lastly, if you realize that the negative reception makes more sense than its counterpart, you don't have to be offended by it if no offense was intended. I guess you shouldn't be offended in general, especially if you're a philosopher. People's insults should be irrelevant to you, when there are more relevant things to be considered in your priority as a philosopher.
There should be a line that separates disapproval from blunt offense. No one is required to enjoy your work, but that alone shouldn't serve as a justification to bully or shame someone for doing something legitimate. Freedom of expression is a right, but so is blocking anyone you don't like nor want to hear from.
Clarity, content-focusing, and no-prioritizing of popular opinion -- these are the tools of any content creator who wishes to improve their craft, and even become an authority in their field.