Saturday, May 14, 2005

On the beauty of complaining

I continue from my previous post using a different heading...

I flipped through the newspapers yesterday and saw an article on grumbling and societal change. What a coincidence, since I have just blogged about this in my preceding entry! The ST article is indeed not very flattering to the social analysts! It seems to me that in the journalist's view, one needs to be a journalist like her in order to have a moral and professional 'licence' to comment and stop at that. So if one is too busy and cannot find the time to contribute other than commenting, should one just keep quiet? After all, who likes to be labelled as a 'grumbler'?

So while I have some 20 mins to spare now, let me extend my theory of the 'beauty of societal grumbling'. Earlier, I said that some things get done only after people complain. The complaints can be delivered in a normal super-courteous and super-tentative way (like a little mouse approaching a cat) or in an extraordinarily forceful way. The 'force' of the complaints can come from quantity (i.e. many people have complained about similar issues/phenomena) or quality (i.e. extremely good writing).

'Complaining' is about analyzing society with the aim of improving it. A mature reader assumes that the intentions are good rather than malicious, and instead of dismissing the critical analyses as trivial (e.g. a grumble), treats the analyses as offering some useful insights. Further, the activity of complaining, when done on a societal scale, makes the country a nation of concerned and idealistic citizens rather than a nation of apathetic and economistic workers. It sets in motion a powerful machine that can continuously improve itself, since flaws of the system are constantly pointed by people situated at various levels and social locations, anonymous bloggers or otherwise. The pattern of complaints lets the elites know about the 'pulse' of society, and more specifically, how many people feel about particular issues. The individual complainers will also know whether their concerns are anomalous or typical ones: are they the only ones with certain problems, or do many other Singaporeans also face similar problems. Thus, complaints have real value, both at the individual level and the societal level.

Next, I feel that the 'complaining stage' can be a useful phase of thinking, sorting out one's thoughts, doing one's 'homework', and generally gaining the personal emotional momentum before one takes the final step of actually doing something. I was playing with my son's toy car: the car travels a longer distance the more times I turn the screw at the side. So, complaining is like turning that screw, so that when one actually does the work necessary for changing the unsatisfactory situation, one has the motivation to see it through to completion, since all the self-doubt, mental obstacles, and justifications would already have been thought through before the action. The ST journalist who wrote that piece about grumbling may say that complaining/grumbling should be done in private rather than in public, in one's little bedroom in the little HDB flat when one is lying next to his wife who doesn't really care about politics and instead watches Wu Zong Xian's entertainment programmes. But this ignores the benefits that complaining in a public or semi-public domain (e.g. a blog) brings - the new perspectives from other people whom one may never encounter in one's 'real' life, or the new thoughts that emerge from the debates with dissenters...

Thus, I present my tentative theory of the 'beauty of complaining'. My wife says that I am a 'complain king'. But I am proud to say that because of my complaints to various agencies (e.g. town council), my neighbourhood has improved significantly, with various changes benefitting many uncles and aunties, ah peks and ah mm's...All these despite the fact that I wasn't the one doing the legwork - I have neither the time nor the energy. I merely 'grumbled' about the problems from my laptop and alerted the relevant authorities on the unsatisfactory things/uncivil acts I have noticed in my neighbourhood. In fact, if one has enough of a helicopter view, one will know how the culture of 'NATO' ('no action, talk only') came about - namely, due to the interactions between a harrowing work culture that sucks the life force out of people and the work required to maintain a family with kids - together, these two things leave one no time and energy for anything else. If citizens still has the inclination to complain despite the fact that they actually have better things to do, the government leaders should be very happy because it means that the citizens still have souls and still care. Seriously.


Blogger jllt said...

I think complaining helps you form bonds with like-minded individuals. It's not really a bad thing, is it?

Complaining is somewhat like writing to me. When I talk/blog about certain issues, I am clearer about what I feel. Helps me form my thoughts and arguments, so complaining is good!


Tue May 17, 06:07:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Yeah, I agree that complaining together builds up team spirit! :) We shouldn't be individual loners who acts without first talking things thru (like the solo football striker).. And I agree with the 2nd part too. :)

Tue May 17, 09:34:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool guestbook, interesting information... Keep it UP

Sun Dec 24, 07:26:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Download Casino tyuueooru - Casino Gambling
There are several advantages of playing online casino and some of them include: 1.
[url=]No Deposit Casino[/url]
Online casino seems to take the industry by storm.
Online Casino Gambling
Play wherever and whenever you want The best thing about online casino is that you don?t have to visit your local casino in order to meet your gambling desire.

Fri Dec 25, 08:25:00 PM 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home