Total Pageviews

Thursday, May 17, 2012


We are a species of complainers.

Growing up, my otherwise conservative and sensible mother unwittingly gave me a peek into the world of complaint-driven society. Two things stand out in my memory: when Mom wanted to get somewhere and another driver impeded her progress? Let's just say that if her car had an app for instantly revoking someones driver license, Mom would have worn that sucker out.

Coffee. Specifically hot coffee. I can't recall a time when we were in a restaurant and Mom did not send her after-dinner coffee back because it wasn't hot enough. Nowadays we have people suing restaurants for incidents involving too-hot coffee.

                         Did she think she was ordering frappucino?

Many of our complaints today inhabit the universe of goods and services. Who hasn't experienced an epic fail when attempting an online purchase, been on the receiving end of a totally mixed-up lunch order, or had Mr./Miss/Mrs. Customer Service make you feel like Eeyore on a bad day. JC Penney has captured the essence of this phenomena in their series of television ads featuring Ellen (last name not required if you live on Earth).

This commercial has complaint written all over it. Ellen starts off complaining about the smell; the cowboy outside the store obviously thinks Ellen is weird after the second series of horse-calling tongue clicks; the gossiping woman in the store is thinking to herself, 'How pushy!' when Ellen elbows in with, "Are you in line?" and then we get the crowning moment...the coupons. It's bad enough that I can't see or hear that word without having Ron White smirking inside my head, "Coo-puns." JC Penney obviously believes coupons are evil and, rightly so, we should be mad as heck about having to use them.

It used to be, back in the day, that you had to get in front of someone to complain. Then, we had the telephone, which allowed us to complain in local and long distance monaural freedom. I wonder if people complained via Morse code over the old wire? Can't you just hear it? Dit dit dah...dit dah dit dah...(Train coming...on arthritis is acting up and them dang rustlers stole ten head of my prize-winning Holsteins).

But nowadays, we can complain on a whole new level - social networking. I am on Facebook and Twitter, although I still haven't figured out what the big deal is about tweeting. It seems like Facebook for people with short attention spans. Seriously, isn't text messaging sufficient for random, pointed thoughts? However this article on the BBC highlights how Twitter, especially, is being embraced as the new tool of modern complaint. And apparently, the corporate world listens when someone (or a hundred someones) tweets.

I'm not immune to the complaining bug; it's so easy to open that door just a crack and let out one little, 'Can you believe what Jimmy's dad did at the soccer game?' and then the next thing you know you're lighting up with your crew after church - still in the parking lot - taking shots at Jimmy, the rude checkout clerk at the grocery store, your boss, every driver in the world besides's easy; there's a lot of low hanging fruit in the garden of complaint.

I don't know what the cure is. But I'm pretty sure Twitter isn't it.

I try to remember Philippians 2:14, Do all things without grumbling or questioning [ESV] (i.e. complaining).

Ephesians 4:29 [ESV] gets a little more specific: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

It may not be as much fun as snickering about Bob as he walks by the water cooler, but we'll all be better off in the long run. I promise you, I'm trying as hard as I can!

What do you think?



  1. well, there's the whiner.....and the 'builder upper' - just now recalling that early on there were certain folk (in the church) who seemed to always have a bit to say and most times it was not shall we say a 'good' say - distressed me greatly at times actually. But we need a bit of heat, in a builder upper sorta way - to create the energy for change

    Point well taken though!

  2. Thank you for commenting Rick; it's dangerous for me to write commentary because of the plank in my eye. I don't want to give folks the impression that I don't complain, because I sure do! But I feel more and more that society as a whole is drifting into the realm of 'everyone is a critic'. And most of that - at least from where I sit - is not the builder-upper kind of constructive criticism.

    Most of what I blog about is just stuff I happen across on the Internet or a reflection of things that happen in day-to-day life. I try to be light-hearted about it all and I very much appreciate anyone who takes the time to comment, one way or another. That's why I usually close with the question, 'What do you think?'

    I want to hear what other folks have to say, too!



Thanks for visiting the Stream. What do you think?