Sure, nobody anywhere likes to be criticised. Criticism comes in different forms – it may be constructive, objective, hostile, mean-spirited and can sting like hell. And the way one reacts to criticism is a result of many factors. Namely; one’s culture, personality, mood and the tone used by the critic. Or you could go all medical and blame the medial prefrontal cortex which regulates how we react to emotional stimuli such as criticism.
Whichever way you look at it, Malta has it’s own set of reactions to criticism.
1. The ‘You-Know-Where-The-Door-Is!‘ Reaction.
We may complain till our mouths are dry about Maltese roads, customer service, mqaret oiliness and anything in between, but as soon as a foreigner utters an ill-word about us – AWW HELL NAW! We snap.
In order to deal with conflict and problems in life, Freud stated that the ego employs a range of defense mechanisms which operate at an unconscious level and help ward off unpleasant feelings such as anxiety to make the individual feel better. In our case:
‘Jekk ma jgħogbokx, mur lura pajjiżek!’
2. The ‘…U Proud‘ Reaction.
There are always those here who react to negative statements by claiming pride over whatever the shortcoming may be.
A: The Maltese are the most obese in Europe
B: Eħe…u prawd.
3. The ‘Għallinqas [insert positive thing]’ Reaction.
Then there are the positive ones, those who prefer to see the cup half full when criticised. As in:
A: Lagħbu tajjeb eh l-Italja!
B: Għallinqas lagħbu mhux bħalkom qas għaddejtu mil-quarters! Yup!’
4. The Fire Back Reaction.
People who use this defense mechanism take the spotlight off themselves by retorting back with another insult, perhaps doubling it for good measure.
A: ‘You suck’
B: ‘No, you suck. AND you stink.’
‘Ara x’tagħmel int!’
5. The ‘Tindaħalx!’ Reaction.
A certain William S. Burroughs once said ‘There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.‘ Wise words, Mr.Burroughs and we get what you mean, but spend a day in Malta and you will gobble your words right back up.
Try having a pest of a mother-in-law who finds fault in everything you do; ‘Le! Mhux hekk tgħalli l-ilma jaħasra!‘ or ‘Għaliex ma ddaħlux naqra isfar fil-flower arrangements, kollox abjad jaq?‘
The tindaħalx reaction – for when you’re sick of people’s shit. Or when they’re right but you’ve got no better retort.
‘Mhux aħjar terfa’ salibek!’
6. The ‘Aħseb U Ara Intkom Mela!’ Reaction.
How dare anybody have an opinion about, or criticise spring bird hunting? Or corruption? Broken promises? Crappy budgets?
Rather than analysing the situation objectively and trying to see things without our biased glasses on, we lash out in rage at the person giving negative feedback about our political party and quickly bring up an equally shitty thing their party is guilty of.
7. The ‘Ipprova Int Mela, Brava!’ Reaction.
As soon as anyone dares give negative feedback about a Maltese singer we like…OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!
‘Jekk int daqsekk brava, pprova kanta int!’
Well, no, because some of us are aware that we suck at singing. One does not need to be a singer to recognise noise pollution the same way one need not be a meteorologist to feel hot.
8. The ‘I Have Way More Experience Than You!’ Reaction.
A: I’ve been in Malta for two years and can count the number of times buses have arrived on time.
B: Ijwa two years ħi? Well my dear, I’ve been in Malta all my life so I know more than you.
Um…k. That still doesn’t change the fact that I can count the number of times buses have arrived on time.
‘Fiex i****b tifhem int għadek titwieled!’
9. The ‘I’ve Got Better Things To Do’ Reaction
People who use this defense normally end an argument with ‘...anyways, tlaqt. Good day.‘ The person clearly wishes the other nothing less than a good day.
Bonus: The ‘Goaler’ Reaction.
These are quite rare in society. They hang their heads low and accept whatever criticism given by saying ‘yeah, true I guess.’ And the argument stops there.