Maybe I really just have spent too much time in the theater. But I see almost no need for critics, and I genuinely try to live my life (oddly enough) by a rule very common in improv. "Yes, And..."
It's basically the principle of agreement and it's what keeps scenes, artistic processes, and friendships afloat. Goes a little something this:
The “Yes, and…” principle states that what’s offered by one actor, must be accepted by the other actor. This acceptance, or agreement, is the building block of the skit.
For example, if one actor hands another actor an invisible object and says, “I’m giving you one million dollars”, the other actor must accept that a million dollars was offered. The second actor would follow up with something l like, “Yes, and it’s all in pennies” (cue laugh track)
It’s when an offer is rejected that the skit dies.
For example, if the second actor had said, “No, it’s not a million dollars, it’s a bag of rice” the skit grinds to a halt because the offer was rejected and now a new scene must be established.
By focusing on the concept of agreement, the skit continues moving forward regardless of what each actor offers to the other.
It's this principle that makes me not like a critical spirit. That's not to say that you shouldn't have standards, or that everything is good, or that you can't ever actually disagree. You're certainly not going to be able to say Yes to everything. It's having a disagreeing spirit that upsets me. When you take the laugh for yourself, but at the expense of the scene. And, particularly when you're trying to create a piece of collaborative art, or build a friendship, it's downright silly to think you're going to get anywhere killing the scene every time and shutting the other person down.
I have a friend who always thinks I'm disagreeing with him and I pretty much never am. I'm saying "Yes, and," then adding additional thoughts. I even try to use "Yes, and" when I do disagree. But typically by asking another question. "Yes, and does that seem to be working for you?"
Kevin said recently when we were discussing this issue, "well isn't the point of good friends that you can say anything to each other?"
Yes, and what that implies is openness. Which the principle of "Yes, and" certainly does, but just because friends are open with each other to say anything, that doesn't mean they should. Or that they shouldn't think of the other person's feelings when they express opinions. I have a lot of opinions, but most of them in relation to my friends aren't about me. I'm not the litmus test for quality, only my own intuition. So my opinions are about trying to help. I listen, and then I say, "Yes, and..."
Additionally, I don't understand the idea of defining yourself by what you don't like. Especially when there are people in the room who do like it. This happens less to me specifically lately, but I see a lot of it when it comes to people's personal tastes. (As though their tastes were the litmus test of quality-- see above linked blog) I will give a personal example though. For a long time, people thought they had a license (because they saw no merit in Broadway musicals, found them laughable, in fact) to sort of snicker at me, and congratulate themselves on their own superior taste in art or career or whatever. I even had a little defense mechanism schtick about it, where I'd make fun of myself. But after a while, I got so pissed and so genuinely hurt.
"I don't make fun of your dreams! " What if I mocked someone's dream to be a doctor? Or a mother? Or a concert cellist?
The bottom line is, if Broadway (or anything) means nothing to you, except the fact that you think it's stupid, then what is benefit in using any energy to mock it? Particularly when you're in the presence of someone who loves it, or associates it with who they are as a person. I've never been able to understand this about people. And it's become a bit of a hot button issue for me. I say all the time, "I like everything." (Pretty much, at least when it comes to art.) I like that it exists, that someone took the time to make it, knowing that it made someone happy and fulfilled to make it. Everyone's position is valid. Dismissing someone's voice, or their love, or their life's ambitions, shuts down the scene.
It seems like part of the same principle to me. The best thing about "Yes, and" for me is that it's open, instead of closed off. It leaves room for possibilities. Because there's a lot more room in yes than there is in no.