Kibitzers should be neither seen nor heard!
This is what my father would say when we suggested that he change what he was currently doing with a power tool. He was a guy who did not easily cope with distraction. He was also a guy whose activities often invited corrective suggestions, but that’s beside my current point – which is that the amount of kibitzing in the world, as compared to actual activity, seems to be ever-increasing. I suggest a new collective noun; a twitter of kibitzers.
It seems as if all of us know how everybody else should have done it. Some of us are realistic about our suggestions, some of us as unrealistic as I used to be when I daydreamed about just reaching out and catching people who were falling past my window. But we would always have done it better and more forcefully, in a more timely manner…
For some of us, kibitzing remains our favorite indoor sport for our whole lives, until we die more forcefully and in a more timely manner than all those other schmucks who weren’t doing it right. But for others, it somehow morphs into insight and self-reflection. We realize that in fact, we wouldn’t have done it any better. Usually because we’ve tried it, and we didn’t do it any better. What happens, though, when kibitzing takes up more of our time than trying?
Well, look at what’s happened to the teaching profession. Every person who ever attended school, or had children who attended school, or pays taxes to suport school, feels qualified to kibitz about every last thing teachers do. Hardly anybody actually tries to do any of that stuff.
A few years ago, I volunteered at a nature center and tried leading classes of schoolchildren. It is not as trivially easy as kibitzers think it is – and teachers add actual education on top of it! But no, we all kibitz ourselves into actually believing we could do it better and that teachers don’t deserve respect or decent salaries. Then the system stops working – the more clever college students stop training to enter the profession, the new hires see the writing on the wall and leave – and we are confirmed in our kibitzery. We could have done it better.
I’m old enough, and have tried enough things, to imagine myself doing a mediocre job of almost any occupation. So the areas I can kibitz in have narrowed to the ones that I’m actually an expert in (Eight hours of recorded lectures a week? Are they mad?) and the ones I actually know nothing about (Why don’t they just bring back the talking filibuster?).
You have no idea how much time this frees up.