One of my favourite TV scenes is, predictably perhaps, from Sex and the City
In the episode Coulda Woulda Shoulda Miranda and Carrie are in a diner talking about the weighty topics of pregnancy, abortion and the fact that Carrie once went out with a waiter from TGI Friday (although she protests it was The Saloon) And the phrase that keeps being repeated is " no judgement."
The two characters make their life choices, in the ideal sisterhood that made SATC so uplifting, without judging each other, but are aware that "judgement" is very much what is heaped upon them.
Being judges (without a jury, mind) is becoming ingrained into our culture. We're constantly told that our opinion counts, we're encouraged to comment, to vote, to Tweet, to share 'what's on your mind.'
This season, along with buying presents ( which we're then encouraged to share online for others to judge and check whether they pass muster ) we're collectively rubbing our chins to see whether the contestants on X Factor, Strictly and I'm A Celebrity are worthy of our vote. If someone sings a bum note, wears the 'wrong' outfit, or fails to eat a kangaroo bollock then they're subject to ritual humiliation and accused of blowing the biggest opportunity in their whole lives, and one that will certainly never come again.
To put this in perspective, the oldest contestant in this weekend's X Factor semi -finals is Marcus Collins, 23. Hopefully at that age he might have a few more chances in life.
Of course, we all have, and should have, an opinion. But criticism, particularly under the veil of anonymity that the internet offers, has become way too personal. Knee-jerk judgement - all too easy with a click or a text - is now the barometer for everything from culture to character. No wonder we're stressing under the weight of needing to be perfect and match up to an imagined ideal.
Whatever happened to making a mistake, or of doing what's right for us, and not necessarily what 'everyone else' sanctions?
I say: hit that bum note, slip up on the dancefloor and refuse to allow a cockroach up your nose.
Follow Loma-Ann Marks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/culture_compass