The sheer number of complaintivists – people that complain about things without doing squat about them – I interact with daily starts to get to me.
Take PayPal’s recent MailPile SNAFU – we’ve all known that PayPal is not a good solution, to say the least, for years. Unsurprisingly I do not have a PayPal account. But while discussing that with fellow hackers (and not only) I was met with standard form of complaintivism – some of them complained about how evil and bad PayPal is, but are they going to do anything about it? Nah, that would mean paying few cents more for their Humble Indie Bundle (I am not making this up!). Why bother.
So please treat this post as my anti-complaintivism manifesto.
The main characteristic of a complaintivist is twofold:
- there is an issue they seem to care about, as they will complain about it;
- yet they will not do anything about that issue, regardless of how small a personal sacrifice (or even lack thereof) would be required of them.
Complaintivists have much in common with slacktivists. In fact I’m convinced that there are many people that are both at the same time: in general they’re complaintivists that can’t be even bothered at all, but if there’s enough peer pressure they will indeed “engage” by slacktivism/clicktivism – and after clicking a “Like” button will consider their job done.
Please note, complaining about an issue can constitute “doing something” about it, as long as it’s done in a way that can influence the issue. Consider the following:
- complaining to me about PayPal – if not accompanied by other actions – is complaintivism;
- complaining about PayPal in your favourite on-line shop’s contact form (“please introduce some alternative to PayPal payment methods as PayPal has a very bad track record”) is just barely not;
- complaining in a on-line shop’s contact form that they just lost your business as you refuse to use PayPal is the preferred course of action.
But afterall, what can a single person do?..¶
Ah, clicktivist’s favourite refuge: “I can’t possibly influence the outcome myself” (with the implicit second part “(hence I shall not even try”)!..
If I had a BTC0.01 each time I heard this phrase used in a discussion, I would be a rich, rich man. Incidentally, that also means that had all the complaintivists actually done something about issues they claim to care about, there would be an army of people doing something about these issues.
All activists have that thought now and then – but we draw a different conclusion: “okay, let’s find a way to get other people involved!”
If you can’t be bothered to even send an e-mail, use a contact form, write a letter to people that can have some actual influence in issues you claim to care about, stop bothering me with them. Because what this means is: you do not care about those issues. I mean, come on! How many hours have you spent choosing just the right shoes, or just the right phone (or even standing in line for just the wrong one)? Now, compare it to the amount of time you have spent actually doing something about the issue you claim to care about.
And now please come back and tell me again how much you “care”.
Not a single flying frak is given by me about how you “feel” about something if you are not prepared to do something about it. You can “feel” whatever the hell you want about anything, I am not your psychologist. You want to talk to me about some issue? Be prepared to act.
You don’t have to do a lot, for starters just do something. If everybody does, that will be a lot of people doing something. And that’s already a lot.