Complaining: the strategy of choice

We are a nation of complainers. Whining, sulking, irritating complainers.

To be clear, that isnít to say I am not guilty of the same. I complain constantly. I have even devoted entire columns to complaining Ė in this case, a column to complain about complainers. There have even been times when I was convinced that complaining is the crutch of my marriage, which, like all things in a marriage, has always been a two-way street.

As long as there's something to gripe and moan about, why wouldn't anyone take advantage of the opportunity? After all, there's no easier, better therapy than complaining. Complaining means differing opinions and that is what makes the world go 'round, or so Iíve been told. Itís a proven method of making change for the better, as seen by the architects of the American Constitution, who were the best complainers ever, followed by the late Andy Rooney and Oscar the Grouch (assuming the two aren't the same person. I never did see them in the same place at the same time).

Certainly, it is difficult to turn a blind eye to the benefits of complaining and in some cases, complaints are warranted; but with the advancement of social media, integrated with our changing, fast-paced culture and our ďI want it and I want it NOWĒ mentality, people are complaining now more than ever and seemingly for no other reason than to hear their own voice. Everyone knows someone who is known to be a complainer, quick to point out a problem but slow to offer a solution.

Call it one of my personal pet peeves but I loathe a complainer who can't offer a viable alternative.

Being a reporter, I have had my share of exposure to complainers. From public meetings to '30 seconds,' the number of complaints I hear from one day to the next is enough to emotionally drain the entire cast of the Brady Bunch. And while I wish I could say life outside work was better, if only a little, that would be an outright lie. Itís nearly impossible to be anyplace where there are people and not hear or see someone protest something. Facebook and Twitter have become nothing more than free online therapy for many, and anyone who has waited in line at the grocery store knows the sound of an impatient sigh of annoyance coming from the person behind them.

Sure there are definite advantages to complaining but I ask, what good is complaining when itís only to point out a problem Ė usually a problem everyone is already well aware of? It goes without saying that this area has its share of problems: a high percentage of the countyís population receiving assistance, a growing heroin epidemic, high taxes and few well-paying jobs, elected officials who canít see eye to eye ... the list goes on.

If most of our complaints are for change, then as a nation of complainers, as a community of complainers, perhaps we are, in many cases, past the point of complaining. We have reached a point of action where the community should step up, volunteer, mentor, educate and become more involved. Complaining invokes change, but change canít be implemented without follow-up action.

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... @evesunshawn

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