Mostly because no one cares, but that is beside the point. If you, however, falsely believe that the person sitting across from you wishes to hear your grievances, and you are not paying them $200/hr, then I regret to inform you that you are mistaken.
As kids, we learn to feign interest. As adults, we carry this lesson into our professional lives. Some people master the skill and become managers. Others, like myself, grow weary of listening to a group of actors bitch and moan about the process, the plot, or, more likely, the lines.
Still, the habit is a diabolical one. There is, perhaps, nothing more detrimental to one's health as complaining. At first, it starts as venting. Someone cuts us off on the highway, or a co-worker sends us an ill-toned email.
Then, it evolves into a series of unfortunate events that make up a tragedy. We cast ourselves in the role of Hamlet and play the victim. Suddenly, our broken shoelace becomes a slight from Richard of Gloucester and the insufferable Debra one of Macbeth’s witches.
Slowly, your dictates become diatribes, and most of your day is consumed with either fuming and feasting on frustration or spewing the noxious gas onto someone who will listen.
There is one unfortunate exception to the rule.
Complaining functions like a magnet. Do it at work, and you will be amazed at how many people, like cockroaches, descend to share the shit sandwich.
Like the aforementioned group Of actors, people will do anything to avoid work, and there is no better American pastime than complaining. Sit back and marvel at the wit of the clap back and the comedy of errors laid out for you about the boss. Notice how, in lurid detail, people can recall slight after slight, shortcoming after shortcoming, for days upon end. Yet, what goal has been accomplished?
Think again about how many countless internet rants there have been deconstructing the faults of Star Wars. How many endless tirades are the on Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube about “How It Should Have Ended” and “Everything Wrong With” about the galaxy far far away. And yet, how many of those people have written a screenplay, let alone build a world or produce a film?
See, complaining functions to serve our ego. We believe we are superior to most people; it’s not Machiavellian it’s mundane.
When we engage in swapping war stories and battle in the game of one-upmanship, we throw our hat into the ring of pity. How many hours have you worked? How big is your student debt? What driver cuts you off in the rain this morning?
By reliving the fantasy or sharing the experience, we long for validation. The closest thing that emulates this practice is masturbation. We look for the perfect idea to rail against, searching page after page, thought after thought, until we settle for some person and unload.
We cast ourselves in the tragedy of life, an Elizabethan player, fretting upon the stage, and, as the Bard notes, we are full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Likewise, the medium of our time, social media, has created a haven for trolls and whiners alike, a sea of “I normally don’t do this,” and, “you know who you are.”
What Facebook and its myriad of Hydra-heads tapped into was man’s need for validation. “I exist,” is what every page secretly says. Yet, it also amplifies the signal of our worst impulses and feeds off of our anger and lust for vitriol.
Most men are not Tolstoy. We don’t write of texts full of meaning, driven by annals well-plotted, character-driven drama. Most of us, this author included (yes, I see the irony of this article as being a complaint about complaining), write dribble, hence why ever insta-model only quotes the same six authors next to a photo or the well-shaped ass.
And so, we turn to what we know, the thorn in our side.
It may feel as though you are working through your stand-up routine, that you are a wit churning out zinger after zinger, but you are not. People love to salivate over gossip and ridicule those they despise. But take a step back for a moment and see that the knife you hold cuts both ways.
The great sages of the past learned this counsel that to hurt another is to hurt ones-self. We may exact our revenge, but it always comes at a cost.
So the next time you wish to decompress by lambasting someone or screaming at the heavens that life is unjust, ask yourself, “Is this useful?” We have all this pent up energy, all this sound, and fury, building to a crescendo, and we waste it on cheap shots at imaginary figures. Instead, how do we funnel that rage, how do we direct that raging wind towards something, anything, more creative?
Brock D. Vickers
This is the beginning of a new part of life: a habit: an idea: a routine to dig at what makes a man great.