Whether they like to admit it or not, every human being forms opinions about what they see and experience. But what causes someone to be considered a judgmental person?
Merriam-Webster defines the word judgmental as “tending to judge people too quickly and critically.” Dictionary.com describes it as “tending to make moral judgments” and “denoting an attitude in which judgments about other people’s conduct are made,” while the Oxford Dictionary explains it as “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.” And perhaps most interestingly, Urban Dictionary ascribes a cause to it: “usually caused by closed mindedness, and a lack of manners.”
Putting this all together, it seems that judgmental people share two fundamental qualities:
1. They are particularly critical of what they perceive as vices in others, and
2. They voice these criticisms aloud.
Usually, being called judgmental is considered an insult. But perhaps being judgmental isn’t always a negative attribute. For instance, some people believe so strongly in some things that they truly think they are helping others by voicing their opinions, which they may consider constructive criticism or even sage advice. Yet these judgments are frequently construed by the person on the receiving end as unnecessary, offensive, even hurtful.
So, do any groups of people, in very general societal terms, tend to be more judgmental than others? Well, allow me to offer some judgments about that…
Not your average modern churchgoer, fundamentalists are the scarlet-letterers who wholeheartedly believe that the contents of a particular book consist of absolute truth and indisputable ethical directives. In their minds, the religion to which they adhere is unquestionably, indisputably correct; hence, they are apt to cast moral judgments upon any who break its rules. And when fundamentalists attempt to enforce their harshest judgments on others, the results can be atrocious: think Islamofascists, abortion clinic bombers.
(As an aside, that oft-heard expression “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is just a transparent veil for judgment. Ghandi probably didn’t intend his words to be flung around by the religious right as a way to ostracize gays and lesbians.)
People Who Don’t Travel.
What types of people are most likely to espouse assertions along the lines of ‘America is the best country in the world’? Those who have never actually been to other countries, of course. (Well, they may have briefly visited Friendlier America, aka Canada.) To their credit, these people at least recognize how fortunate they are to not have been born in the Third World. However, that doesn’t excuse their baseless conclusions that the ways of life in Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan and other First World countries are somehow inferior. Personally, I think people born in certain other places, such as Denmark, have it better than Americans, but that is beyond of the scope of this topic. Next…
If you are a night owl, you know exactly what I’m talking about, as you’ve surely been told in some way or another that you should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Heck, morning people even make up sayings about how superior their lifestyles are: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Their judgments are so prevalent that night owls have come to be thought of almost like cigarette smokers: an outcast group who must slink off into the shadows to indulge in their maligned habit. Consider that society generally perceives a person who rises at 6 a.m. and works a traditional 9-to-5 job as more hardworking than someone who rises at noon and works from 4 p.m. to midnight. It matters not that the number of hours worked is equivalent; the latter-shift worker slept til noon, so therefore he is lazier.
Feminazis and Menazis.
I’m not talking about regular ’ole equal rights/pay feminists here. I’m talking about those extreme feminists who find it necessary to interrogate a married woman about why she chose to take her husband’s last name. Don’t think there’s much more to say here; passive-aggressively criticizing someone for following an innocuous cultural norm is pretty judgmental. On the other hand, however, it is equally judgmental to disparage a woman who has selected to keep her maiden name. Choice of name affects no one besides the named individual—and the effects on said individual are pretty minimal—so why do some people get so hung up on this?
Very Financially Successful People.
Some (not all) highly accomplished people view the success they’ve had in their careers as stemming entirely from their own efforts, neglecting to recognize contributing factors like nurturing parents, a stable childhood, access to a quality education, social connections, and even sheer luck. As a result, they assume that those who are less successful just haven’t worked hard enough to earn their success. Here lies an assumption as dangerous as that made by the religious fundamentalists: that those who have less are simply lazier, and therefore unworthy of the high standard of living enjoyed by the successful.
Militant Vegans and Militant Meat-Eaters.
You know who I mean. Not the everyday vegetarian who nonchalantly brings a quinoa casserole to a potluck, but the self-righteous animal-rights activist who preaches that everyone else should subscribe to her diet and calls you a horrible person if you eat a brownie (gasp, don’t you know there is EGG in that!). Or, conversely, the pot-bellied carnivore who proudly dons his “Save a cow, eat a vegetarian” muscle tee and calls you a pansy if you say no thanks to a hot dog encased in a hamburger wrapped in bacon and stuffed inside a turducken.
Paleodieters, Juicers, Cross-Fitters…
… And those subscribing to the next big health or fitness craze. Many of them are thoroughly convinced that they ‘feel better than ever’ and that therefore anyone else who cares about their own health should adopt their excessively restrictive, hard-core routines in order to ‘be at the top of their game.’ (I question though why the vast majority of these people fail to keep up with their regimens for more than a few months, or at most, a couple years. Hmm.)
In particular, former drinkers, and those who ‘have never touched alcohol’ because they grew up around alcoholics. These people may be apt to assume that because they had a problem with alcohol—or because they witnessed others who had a problem—that alcohol must be the problem in and of itself. Hence, occasionally tossing back a few beers with friends is deemed “bad,” a glass of wine a day with dinner is “dangerous,” and anybody who experiences the occasional hangover is most certainly an alcoholic. (Some former smokers also fall into this category; although, unlike light-to-moderate drinking, light-to-moderate cigarette smoking is definitely detrimental to one’s health, so judgments in this arena at least stem from justifiable concerns.)
Parents Who Think Everyone Else Should Be Too.
Now, I do NOT mean to imply that all or even most parents are actively compelling innocent bystanders to instantaneously spawn. But there are those standout few who are befuddled when confronted with an adult of reproductive age, who is married and gainfully employed, yet childless. The entirely inappropriate comments/questions seeping from these parents’ lips range from “Why don’t you have kids yet?” to “When you gonna pop one out?” The mindset here, presumably, is ‘I had kids at a certain age; this person is the same age and is in an as good as or better situation than I was at that age, so they should start having kids.’
Perhaps this is in part because they tend to fall into some of the other categories: for instance, they tend not to travel but do tend to be early risers; they have accumulated more wealth than other age groups; they see having children as the logical outcome of marriage; and on the whole they’re more religious than other age groups. But they also possess their own unique brand of judgmentalness. A sentence that starts off with “Back in my day….” is almost certain to end in a judgment concerning the inferiority of younger- and middle-aged folk. And old people actually refer to themselves as being part of “The Greatest Generation.” Seriously, how full of themselves can they be? Such terminology, based entirely on their sacrifices during WWII, inherently implies that veterans of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan did not serve their country in as great a capacity. Ouch.
Kids are an interesting category because they can be some of the most judgmental as well as the least judgmental people. For instance, proclaiming guacamole to be ‘gross’ even though it’s never before crossed their lips, while finding it nothing more than a curiosity that one of their Asian playmates has a white mommy and a black daddy.
Is there anything they aren’t judgmental about? Oh wait yes: Junk food; they will eat anything/everything in sight. And they aren’t judgmental of night owls, either.
Fortunately, they are a vanishing culture, so much so that perhaps some younger readers may assume this category refers to insects and wonder why it’s in capital letters.
People Who Have Tattoos or Piercings. Oh and People Who Don’t Have Tattoos or Piercings.
The latter often consider the former punkish, rebellious, attention-seeking, or just plain weird. But the former sometimes think of the latter as boring, bland, vanilla.
… Ok, maybe not all bloggers; just those who have the audacity to write entire posts judging judgmental people.
People Who Judge People for Speculating on Which People Are the Most Judgmental.
You are judging right now. I know it! 😉