What is a critic? The Webster English dictionary defines critic as 1) one who judges books, music, plays etc. for a newspaper; 2) to find fault.
Interesting definition. But what is the general guideline or criterion that critics usually follow or adhere to? In my experience, there is no guideline that a typical critic usually follows, not a well-written rule for that matter but rather a personal preference.
This is quite unfair for those who perform with their talents and skills at their heart's content. They perform not for money or recognition but what their hearts dictate them. This is not to say that you can go out there and simply perform and completely be oblivious to your mistake and make a fool out of yourself. We are discussing a critic that is unfair and simply criticize people who are doers and finds fault all the time without taking any consideration whether he or she did well at a given task. What's worse, a critic believes his work (or at least his standards) is the best, and his criticisms could be so harsh and devastating to some and may cause the performer to lose his heart at a given endeavor. These so called "experts" could ruin your dream if you are caught unaware.
For instance, you are fledgling artist. You put a lot of effort into your work and believed that it is the best in the industry. You decided to publish it and incidentally, you came across a critic. He told you who is and says he is responsible for all the "recommendations" that the editor would want to hear from, so if he says your work is good, then it's good for publishing and so on. But alas, woes you. He found your art rather distasteful and started criticizing not only your work but also encroaches on your personal capacity as an artist. If you're lucky, that is all he will say. Sometimes the critic will go into great lengths such as "You better change your name 'cause the guys in the publishing firm doesn't like the sound of your name." or something like: "Hey, that story is no longer original and it was already written by Shakespeare, Mozart or whoever watchamacallit author you could think of so nobody is going to buy it." And you, unaware of the pitfalls a critic hauls out to manipulate you (unintentionally or not) believed his opinion. Because you think and bought the idea that he is the "expert" in his realm, decided to follow his advice. A year passed and you got nothing publish because you keep on customizing your work to please this guy and ended up saying "Well, I guess I'm not really good in art (writing, dancing, singing etc.) so I will just stay to be the old me and play it safe and stop pursuing my dream and watch somebody else do it." Indeed...
Now, I ask you if that kind of criticism is valid and worth following in the expense of sacrificing your dream? The answer is no. Sometimes their judgment is not the reality. Like the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" so is the critic's criticism. It is only a matter of opinion.
Some unjust criticism is also a result of insecurities on the critic's part that he or she is unaware of. Reasons that are only known and obvious to them. Maybe, just maybe that he cannot accept a new guy or gal can out do him in many aspects, even the first timers. Hah! Such irony... One of the best solutions for this kind of situation is to be aware whether the critic is hauling out a fair criticism either to your work or to yourself or simply attacking you, disguising his statements and antagonism as a criticism. The other, albeit recalcitrant as it may seem, ignore his opinion and follow your dream. You can always disagree with anybody without being disagreeable in the process. If on the other hand that his criticism is fair though painful, then learn from your mistakes and improve yourself. You learn from your mistakes, failures and shortcomings far better than your successes.
Before I end this writing, let us go back to the definition of a critic. For me, the best definition of a critic came from the book of Billi Lim, author of Dare to Fail . He defined it succinctly.
"A critic is a person who knows where he wants to go but doesn't know how to drive a car."
So always follow your dream and carefully weave through the intentions of your critics.