Complaining is one life’s great pleasures. The best complainers (e.g. Mordecai Richler, Noel Gallagher) are artists of the form. Opinion writing is basically just professional complaining; what makes getting to write columns so enjoyable is that it is basically a license to regularly think up new things to kvetch about. My old editor at This Magazine, the fantastic Julie Crysler (who coined the Rebel Sell meme, btw) used to get me to write by simply asking me what was bugging me. Everything, was the usual answer, but she was good at helping narrow it down.
In short, you’d think that a recession like the current one would be a great occasion for a celebration of some Grade A complaining. But nooooh, not if a bunch of insufferable killjoys have their way.
To begin with, it would appear that grouchiness is taking a break:
Job satisfaction is actually up, according to a December 2008 survey by Yahoo! HotJobs. Almost 38% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 28% in 2007, a likely sign that people are grateful they’re still employed. And every week now, we hear reports of workers accepting pay cuts or furloughs without complaint — some of them acts of solidarity to protect jobs elsewhere in their companies.
Who are these losers? But wait, there’s worse:
There is also a growing “noncomplaining” movement that touts the belief that whining doesn’t work as a strategy, and that happiness can be found through rituals such as writing in “gratitude journals.” Will Bowen, a minister in Kansas City, Mo., is on a mission. His nonprofit organization, A Complaint Free World Inc., has distributed almost six million purple bracelets emblazoned with the group’s name. When wearers find themselves complaining, they’re asked to switch bracelets to their other wrists. The goal is to go 21 days without having to switch.
It is hard to find words for just how obnoxious this is. “A Complaint Free World”? WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT??
Complaining is what makes us human, what differentiates us from the other monkeys kunckling around the planet. The first human was first primate who woke up cold one morning, contemplated another breakfast of rotten bananas and tree grubs, and thought, “boy this sucks.”
Here’s the thing: Complaining is essentially a form of optimism; it is an expression of dissatisfaction with the world, an assertion that things could — and bloody well should — be better. Sucking it up, grinning and bearing it, writing in your fricking “gratitude journal” – none of that is going to help get us out of this mess. It’s the complainers of the world who are going to get sick and tired of not having martinis and steaks and Xboxes and Mercedeses, who will finally do something about it and start fixing the economy. And once it’s fixed, things will still suck, and the complainers will set about fixing that too.
If you’re tired of complaining you’re tired of life. Bitching is a form of hope. Gratitude is death.
(Thanks, as always, to the Handcaper)