closeup of English lawn daisies

Complaining on Social Media

Published 2023-05-15

I realized a few weeks ago that most of what I post on social media is some version of dropping anonymous complaints into a suggestion box (“my bank sucks,” “framework X sucks,” “climate change sucks,” etc.)

Such complaining hobbles self-agency but is also addictive. (“This is not my fault & thus not my problem.”)

This (now decades-long) habit has not been good for my soul. Modes of thought are practice for action; what happens when we practice shedding our agency?

Back when I used to manage people (as a field crew chief, and then again as an art director), I learned that complaints are a useful signal…when they are delivered along with credible action or an implied promise of. Small example: when most of my field crew said it was too snowy to work, I knew to call it a day.

That kind of complaining is why I have quit so many jobs, and also why I have received most of the raises I have gotten. (Side note: as a freelancer I can simply raise my rates! No complaining necessary! So much better for my soul.)

I have been confusing these two modes of complaining for like 25 years.