It's easy to just say yes or no to this, but I might have had an actual thought. Obviously, I have little interest in judgement qua judgement – do whatever you're doing, and try to do the right thing even if people tell you otherwise. People don't benefit from constant negative feedback – for the same reason a spoiled kid doesn't benefit from constant praise. We need the differential to train our inner pigeons to be better. People should care about the responses we get from others, and those will sometimes be negative. Getting negative feedback should be used extremely sparingly, because we ought to have a quite strong reaction to it. No feedback gives us no tools to become better for our neighbors, but we screw up judgment enough to be more careful.

But when I hear about the dangers of negative judgments, I think they fall in two overlapping groups: parasocial and stupid.

If someone is giving you a hard time for being gay, that's not really doing anything to train an inner pigeon, because excepting extreme circumstances, people won't really do anything with your feedback. Same thing with racism, sexism, etc. It's not contributing towards a more pro-social world, so it's all pretty stupid, and, therefore, not really interesting.

The much more interesting category is parasocial negativity – negative inferences we make upon seeing a broadcast of someone's outlook. Our empathy is involuntary, we know they don't like us – but they haven't met us.

If I have any thesis statement, it's that – parasocial negativity is hard to do right. I wrote about one aspect of this topic yesterday, but I think it's fair to say this one is perhaps more important: giving negative feedback to non-public figures you don't know online is perhaps one of the most useless and toxic activities humanity has engineered. Even when they're public figures we ought to be extremely careful. And yet, the current levels of caution about this are laughably low – although they're improving. Slate, the home of the My Husband's Not Gay article, and not typically a bastion of restraint, doesn't have anything that could be considered an attack on a private figure currently on their homepage.

So let me say, in this presumably parasocial environment, that I think you're doing at least a few things right. I don't know you, but if you're taking the time to read this, you probably want to be a better person, and want to think of new ways to be better. If the whole world was like us, surely there would be a better place to read this – but since there aren't too many of those, I can say with reasonable confidence: you're doing well. All those things you feel bad about, that doesn't matter compared with how well you can do compared to your previous best, and I can tell you're aiming higher than ever. So don't dilly-dally, and pat yourself on the back. There's lots of work to be done, and we could all be better role models to the people who know us.