We Need Our Critics

by Bill Brenner on May 15, 2014

A friend sent me a graphic that hits home, given that one of the realities of being a writer is that people will regularly disagree with you.

Mood music:

The Disagreement Pyramid, a play on the Food Pyramid, puts the most constructive criticism at the top of the pyramid, illustrating its rarity. The most common type of comments fall to the the bottom of the pyramid — the destructive, useless comments. Created by Loudacris, the pyramid is based on an article by Paul Graham.

disagreement hierarchy

To make sense of this masterpiece, I turned to Dave Marcus — a friend from the security industry who tends to disagree with more than half of what I write in this blog.

I’ve always viewed my friendship with Dave as an example of how you can disagree and debate in gentlemanly fashion. We don’t call each other names or accuse each other of attacks, except for when we’re kidding around. But it’s not always easy. Dave once condemned one of my posts as “escapism and blame.”

More recently, he expressed frustration with my posts about burnout in our industry and suggested I was simply projecting my issues onto everyone else.

So I asked him which category we fall under on this Disagreement Pyramid.

“All of them, actually,” he said.

People often hate to be criticized. We like to think we’re special and that our words are gold. But, really, we’re usually expressing ourselves in a moment of time — which means we don’t always have all the necessary evidence at the time we’re making an argument.

I’m certainly guilty of that, though not as much as Dave might think.

That’s why we writers need our critics: They keep us honest and make us better.

I’m less likely to listen to people who use the tactics at the bottom of the pyramid, but I’ll always have an ear for folks like Dave.

And when we’re old men and I’m wearing a hearing aid from all those years of loud music, I’ll simply switch it off when I think he’s going too far.

I’d like to think he’d do the same to me.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Marcus May 15, 2014 at 8:20 am

Excellent choice of theme music. Now if you would only stop listening to that confounded Def Leppard……

James A. Abercromby II March 10, 2016 at 10:57 am


I just went through this with someone less than 24 hours ago, and we don’t even really know each other personally. Panic attacks, and my anxiety went through the roof. I definitely dig this infographic though because it speaks volumes towards what me and this other person just experienced in our line of communications.

Good looking out Bill.

Take care

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: