The Culture of Bitch and Moan
Gripe, Gripe, Gripe. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch. Complain, Complain, Complain. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what we’ve become: A nation of whiners. If you spend any amount of time online like I do, you’ve no doubt noticed that Facebook postings and article comment sections and forums everywhere have devolved into a cesspool of negativity and nitpicking complaints. Anything and everything, it doesn’t matter. There’s going to be a line of people waiting to bitch about it. And I’ve just about had enough of it. It’s time to fight back: Ignoring these whiny fools is no longer enough. They need to be called out for what they are: a waste of our precious time and mental energy.
The latest case in point: A Facebook posting by my city, asking nicely for help digging out fire hydrants. You see, we’ve had some snow this winter. A lot of snow. Shitloads of snow. Since November when the first flakes started coming down, we’ve had almost 8 feet of the stuff, and very little of it has melted. It’s all still here. It’s way more snow than we typically get in the average winter, and it obviously is causing some logistical issues. Namely, what to do with all the stuff. The streets have to be plowed, right? And all that snow has to go somewhere, right? Unfortunately, some of that 8 feet of snow ends up burying the fire hydrants which are located right next to the street (you know, for the convenience of fire fighters.)
Reasonable people would see that buried fire hydrants are a bad idea, and that not having access to them makes putting our house fires inherently more difficult. But no….. the first few comments to this innocent Facebook request were predictably negative:
“I don’t pay you taxes to clear your hydrants. My street wast even plowed so I could get out to get to work on time because you are to busy worrying about the ” downtown” district and forget about the rest of the tax paying citizens that need to get to work to pay their taxes!”
“Every time I dig out my hydrant the city plows them back shut.” (No shit Sherlock. It keeps snowing.)
“Where do you suggest we move the snow to? Ours is is exposed on one side but the side walk, and driveways for two houses get dumped there, not to mention the snow from the city street plow.”
**** A quick sidenote: See the grammatical errors? Those are a hallmark of almost every negative ninny on the internet.
Now, I must say that yes, it is terribly inconvenient to have to dig out fire hydrants, and that yes, it would be nice if the city came around and dug them out. But you see, the city has its hands full plowing roads and fixing water main breaks. Have I mentioned that it hasn’t stopped snowing since November? When the city asks for help, they genuinely need it. It’s what being part of a ‘community’ is all about. But no… it’s easier with the internet for people to simply spout off about it, rather than doing something about it. And in this particular case? Lending a hand is in peoples’ own best interest. A buried fire hydrant is only an inconvenience until a house catches fire, then it suddenly becomes a life-or-death, big-ass problem. Who, in their right mind, wouldn’t want to take a few minutes to dig out the fire hydrant that’s nearest their own home? Seriously. A: This was a politely worded request from the city, not a demanding requirement. B: Don’t want to help out? Then don’t. I only hope that these whiners are praying that their houses don’t catch fire before somebody else clears out their fire hydrants or else they’re going to see what a real problem looks like.
You’d think one simple Facebook posting from my City and a few negative replies wouldn’t bother me so much. But it does. Why? Like I said, it’s indicative of an overall problem. Too. Much. Complaining. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media have made it easy for anybody to voice their comments, often anonymous, and apparently many of us are simply bitter, negative people.
Don’t believe me? What if the Facebook posting from the city wasn’t asking for help, but was a notice that the City could no longer plow the roads. Believe me, these people complaining about how the snow plows are burying hydrants, forcing a need for help digging them out would totally lose it if their roads weren’t being plowed in the first place. It’s what I mean when I say that it doesn’t matter what the subject, good or bad: People are going to complain about it. And the taxes issue? Firstly, in this case our town’s budget is not infinite and right now, all of their manpower hours are going toward snow removal from roads.There’s not a lot of money or time left over to have them clear out each fire hydrant by hand. Hence the call for help and oh, have I mentioned that IT HASN’T STOPPED SNOWING FOR MONTHS???
The people complaining about where their tax money is going are also more than likely the same people bitching about how their taxes are too high in the first place and should be lowered to nothing. (Bitching about taxes while simultaneously ranting about how they don’t provide enough services is a Tea Party specialty. But I digress.)
What happened to lending a hand to others in need (even if it’s an overloaded municipality?) What happened to shutting up and just doing what needs to be done (especially if it means keeping ones’ home and family safer?) When did we become a nation of whiny little complainers? Was it that the internet has allowed our true bitchy selves to easily show their faces, or did the internet create the problem? I don’t know, but I do know this: We live in the most convenient, safe, and comfortable time in the short span of human existence on this planet. We’ve only had electricity for about 100 years, and now we lose our shit if the power goes out for 5 minutes. Humans used to have to go out and hunt down their own food (even in 8 feet of snow. Really!) and learn how to grow the rest without the aid of power tools. Now, we complain that the price of ground beef (which has been raised, slaughtered, processed and packaged for us so we don’t have to get our fancy hands dirty) is too high. We bitch about the high price of gas and airfare, when for thousands of years most people never wandered more than a few miles from where they were born. We flush away our bodily waste and enjoy unlimited hot showers from the comfort of our warm, safe homes while our ancestors shat into a hole in the ground and bathed 3 times a year, in cold water, if they were lucky. I shudder to think what would happen if something like World War II happened today. Millions of young men marched off into danger and likely death, and millions of families waved them goodbye. Did they complain about it? I’m sure some did, even most. But they DID IT. Throughout our history, humans have sucked it up and made the most of what were almost always horrible, horrible situations.
So what do we do? First, don’t be a complainer. Be a doer. A get-things-done-er. Set an example for others. Help a neighbor, or a stranger. Volunteer somewhere. There’s lots of problems out there that we can help solve, rather than just sit back and complain about them.
I applaud websites that are taking their comment sections more seriously. Requiring real names removes the mask of anonymity that so many hide behind when firing off their terrible comments. Reviewing and removing unhelpful or hurtful comments helps, too.
As for us users? Here’s what I do: I try to avoid reading comments sections whenever possible, because I know they’re probably full of words that not only don’t further a constructive debate but often degrade it into hurtful comments and insults. Leave them alone!
As for those whiners in my own community who don’t have the time or inclination to pitch in and help dig out their fire hydrants when our town needs their help, during an extraordinary winter that’s taxing resources to the max, I say this: Don’t worry. Your fire hydrant WILL be dug out eventually, by somebody. Worst case? The fire department will do it, taking precious moments to do so, while your home burns. I guess that decision is up to you. But I know where my hydrant is, and it’s not buried under the snow. Peace.