It is said that if you are British you would prefer to have your eyes gouged out with a spoon rather than to complain about anything. Alas, I think that particular national trait has gone the way of other things such as good manners, as in - never eating in the street like some dreadful oik with absolutely no grace at all.
Indeed, the time was when you might have had to endure the most awful meal conjured up by man in a criminally overpriced restaurant - and yet you would still over-tip the arrogant waiter and meekly say how much you enjoyed the meal. But not anymore it seems! It appears that the rise-and-rise of social media and the anonymity it provides, has started a revolution in terms of how we complain about things that annoy us.
Mostly people don’t like to make-a-fuss face to face, but given the opportunity to bitch and moan about something via the internet - you watch them go! Take for instance the complaints that the BBC or ITV get when they show something that displeases some viewers and listeners, they can get tens of thousands of complaints because the process of complaining has become so simple i.e. scribble down your mini rant and press sent it off at a simple click of a button.
Facebook warriors of all descriptions get something off their chest in much the same way because it’s easy and mostly you don’t have to confront the person who has irked you so much. Hey, guilty as charged, I’ve done this myself.
That’s it in a nutshell, most people don’t like confrontation, but take away that face-to-face element in making a complaint and watch what happens. As I mentioned earlier, social media is rife with this sort of sly, mealy-mouthed complaining and some people practically create a career out of constantly criticising anything some people or organisations try to do.
Then we have the who are constantly offended by something or another and like to complain vigorously before they are confronted by yet another more fashionable matter…and so on and so forth! Doing the job that I do, I am well used to life’s complainers, indeed they sometimes actively seek me out at parties and in shops.
If I was ever tempted to be flattered by somebody saying “You’re that Frank from the Bulletin aren’t you?” not anymore. Because I know that what comes next is a ten minute long whinge about almost anything - from why are we letting “millions” of Germans arrive unmolested on the island to - er, why aren’t we! Is it me, or are women much better at complaining than men?
Apropos nothing - whenever somebody has something to complain about in our household, it is without doubt a woman’s job. Women I find can ingratiate themselves better than men and most importantly, know how to get their way or gain an apology without becoming aggressive. For instance, I will never take anything back to a shop - even if it is broken or was not what it said on the packaging. Women I find, are quite happy to stand in a long check-out queue and take ten minutes getting a 1.60 euro refund on a broken packet of biscuits and then tell me - “You men are such wimps.”
If you will forgive me, I will now go down memory lane and outline for you the sort of obsessive and complaining press encounter I would be very used to - back in the day. A senior local politician held a press conference on a slow news day to outline how he had been mistreated by, almost everyone, according to him. It must have been heaven for him - hacks poised with open notebooks. Camera crews! Imagine - “We now go over to 47 Balaclava Terrace, where Cllr Ron Snodgrass is marking the 25th anniversary of his battle with the planning ombudsman.”
All the familiar features were there. The list of errors delivered too quickly for anyone to understand, still less write down. The points to be ticked off - “Ninthly, and tenthly. I now come to my eleventh point…” The sarcastic references to people and details we know not of: “So much for the reliability of Mr Thomas!” Funnily enough, I felt very sorry for Ron, a man trapped in an endless complaint of his own making, rattling at the bars that he alone had put in place.
Returning to the here and now, we appear nowadays to be caught in a seemingly never ending spiral of complainants demanding apologies for historical events and happenings over which we had no control, for better or for worse. My problem with this attitude is that demanding us to ‘confess’ and apologise for the sins of our forebears, does absolutely nothing to mitigate the intolerances of the here and now.
Any fool can apologise for something historical he had no part of in any way. Much better, to make sure that it can’t and doesn't happen again surely? Another problem complainants seem to have - is that of people actually disagreeing with what they believe to be true. Witness, the unseemly spat between Meghan, Duchess of Essex and Piers Morgan - let’s face it, neither of them suffer from crippling shyness, so quite why the shameless ‘he said - she said’ attitude from both sides is a bit of a mystery.
Okay, no it’s not - both are clearly on some sort of ego trip and the very thought that someone might fundamentally disagree with them is clearly something that neither can cope with. Nevertheless, it verges on the soul destroying to have to listen to their complaints about each other, when - let’s face it, the average person couldn’t give two hoots about their supposed dented pride. Enough already!