Friday, April 19, 2013

Desensitized to Suffering or Just to Your Complaints?

Okay, this post was written out of frustration/boredom related to a Beyond Black & White post called Reciprocity: What does it mean to you. I must say that I haven't had many ideas about what to write lately and I'm losing some interest in blogging because there are other things I want to do (e.g., sewing, I need to exercise more, the weather is getting better and I want to get out and do things. I know that sometimes I complain about things but I have made a concerted effort for months to reduce how much I complain and vent online and offline (I wrote about this previously HERE and HERE). I chose to do that because I know that complaining is unpleasant and useless if I don't plan on doing anything about the problem. I would rather spend time doing something more pleasant with my friends. It's actually helped me to feel happier and more mellow about things. 

It's fine discussing something for the sake of making conversation, but if the issue is emotional or controversial I just don't bother doing it much because it doesn't benefit anyone. The problem online is that sometimes an interesting conversation for me can upset others when that was not my intention whatsoever. So once I realize someone is upset online I leave that person alone because it wasn't serious to me and I didn't realize the other person was taking the online discussion so seriously. I know that I am not perfect and some of my posts may come off as frustrated venting, but really, I haven't vented online in a long time and I haven't been upset while writing one of my posts in a long time. I write because I enjoy it or I'm bored not because I'm an activist, expect to change the world, or that what I write actually matters. It's not that serious...
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I'm still reading Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus (I think I read one chapter per month lol so I've been reading it for a long time). The book mentions something that I learned about previously regarding ways men tend to communicate when compared to women. Basically the book states that men tend to make complaints to others for the purpose of getting advice about how to ACT on the problem or SOLVE the problem. In contrast, women often make complaints just so that they can VENT and have someone listen to them while being supportive and showing empathy without the expectation that they or their audience do anything about the problem. Although both genders can use both forms of communication, men are more likely to make a complaint for the purpose to getting advice or prompting someone to act on the complaint. If they don't need help or want something done then they don't bring the problem up. You have probably heard this before.

I think that when it comes to reading blogs I think like a man! Men often become frustrated with women when they complain to them about something (especially when it's the same thing over and over) but they refuse to take their advice about how to solve the problem. Or when the women keep getting upset over something they have no control over and expect that the man gets upset too, pay attention to the complaint (that they may have heard dozens of times before), and endure the intense emotional venting. If they become bored with the complaint and the venting they are accused of "not caring" about the woman or whatever issue she is complaining about. A man in such a situation may ask himself,

"Why in the world is this woman complaining and getting upset over and over again about the same darn problem? Didn't she learn the last dozen times that she can't change the situation, so why is she still focusing on it? Why doesn't she take any of my advice about how to deal with the problem so that we don't have to go through this anymore? Why does she ruin her day by getting upset and insist that I ruin my day by listening to her and getting upset too? Does she enjoy getting upset and does it make her feel like she is a good person or something? What does she get out of this draining and depressing behaviour and why does she need me to feel drained and depressed with her? I wish she would just do something about the problem or just stop wasting both of our time getting upset and worrying about it!"

When I hear certain complaints over and over sometimes I just want to yell, "Do something about it or stop complaining because I have better things to do! This is useless and doesn't benefit anyone! Don't drag me into your masochistic pit of despair!" I mean since you care about the person you listen the first few times and are very concerned. You want to help and stop the suffering. But after a while you wise up and realize, 'Oh, she just likes to complain and vent about things sometimes. There is no need for me to get worked up because in a few minutes she will get over it and move on. She's like Jerry Seinfeld complaining about things to pass the time but she's not really that upset or else she would be working to solve the problem.' I mean seriously, it's like someone getting a flat tire and complaining day after day about it and don't want you to fix it...fix the darn tire already or shut up!

Over the years I have heard women and people in general complain about certain things online and in the media so often that I'm desensitized to their complaints and don't get concerned anymore. It's just the usual venting about the frustrations of life that they do to pass the time, the situation won't change any time soon, and they don't really want to work on the problem anyway. Sometimes I engage in those conversations just to pass the time but I don't get upset anymore because what's the point, it's online not my real life. In many cases these are first world problems (link2; i.e., problems that those with serious problems don't worry about because they are busy trying to survive. Yes I know I write about first world problems most of the time...and I don't take it seriously either. If your complaint has anything to do with celebrities or entertainment those are first world problems but I get that you are using to demonstrate a larger social problem. Many people will still dismiss it as trivial though). What are some examples of complaints that I don't feel like listening to anymore?
  • Complaints about celebrities, television, or music. I know that people (including myself) sometimes use celebrities, TV, and music as examples of more important social problems or a symptom of social problems. But if the issue is that a celebrity said something, there are not enough Black people on TV, or a song says something objectionable I just don't feel like listening anymore. Write about the social issue and it's complex contributing factors instead of complaining about a particular celebrity. Better yet, stop paying attention to gossip blogs and entertainment. I will just listen to commentary about good shows, music, and role models.
  • Complaints about being fat. Do something about it or accept that you are fat and stop complaining about it. When someone gives you advice that what you are doing is keeping you fat, take their advice or never complain to them again. You have a brain, you decide what is too much, don't rely on me to tell you what is too much and what is unhealthy. I will just listen to commentary about how to lose weight and stay fit.
  • Complaints about certain people not finding you attractive. Make yourself more attractive, only focus on the things about you that are attractive, or only pay attention to the people who do find you attractive. When someone tells you something about you is not attractive and how you can improve, take their advice or never complain to them again. Accept that men and most people prefer attractive women. I am so tired of the complaining that I really don't care anymore what you do to make yourself look attractive, do whatever you think is appropriate. You have a brain, you decide what is too much, don't rely on me to tell you what is too much and what is unhealthy. I will just listen to commentary about how to be attractive and people who find Black women attractive.
  • Complaints about non-Black people not including or preferring Black people. Accept that all people prefer their own, stop expecting to be included or being surprised when you are not, and create your own resources and groups that will include and prefer Black people. I will just listen to commentary about Black people who have been included.
  • Complaints that some people are racists or say insensitive or mean things to Black people. Report it if you have to but accept that everyone won't like you for whatever reason and race is just one of those reasons. Accept that people are mean to other people for many reasons and racists are just mean people who don't warrant your attention. Accept that non-Black people's lives don't revolve around finding out what offends you and reading manuals about how to act around you so you might get offended. Think about all the times when you have been mean and stop giving mean people so much power over you. 
Now, if something is incredibly horrible, unusual, or effects someone I KNOW PERSONALLY then yes, I may get upset and I will listen. If I know the horrible details and someone is right in front of me upset about something that happened to them PERSONALLY then I will be concerned and empathetic. But I will no longer be concerned when someone online is upset about something that DID NOT EVEN HAPPEN TO THEM and that they have no intention of doing anything about the situation. I don't have time for that and I don't need that in my life. This is entertainment and I don't spend time on entertainment that makes me feel bad anymore. I would rather focus on the people around me and on things that I can actually do something about or things that make my life better. In my opinion, taking on negativity to make internet strangers feel better is being a mammy and a mule by sacrificing my time and emotional well being so that a stranger feels cared for. That's a sacrifice for your family and friends not for a stranger on the internet. 

I'll end with some questions I was wondering when I read the original post: Why do you need me/internet people to listen to your complaint or get upset about it? Why do you need me/internet people to care and how does my/our caring help you? Will your problem go away if everyone in the world cares yet can not or will not do anything to help? Do you think you are better/more human/more well adjusted than others because you pause to think and talk about negative world events?

5 comments:

  1. Great post Elegant, I know I haven't been around a lot lately due to my job and traveling a lot but I see that you're still at it and I wouldn't want you to stop blogging.

    My opinion about internet complainers is that their friends and family have probably grown tired of their complaining therefor their only way of getting any kind of attention is via the internet. Sometimes I would visit a blog and read a great article only to get annoyed after reading the countless negative and childish comments. I have literally trained myself to stop reading BWE and YouTube comments and trust me it's not easy.

    The last article I read on Beyond Black + White was that lovely article you wrote about Kerry Washington. The mistake I made was scrolling down to read the comments which was mostly about her being too skinny and trying to conform to white culture or not black enough etc etc. You see they complain about black women not being desirable or not getting enough roles but when someone do point out someone who is doing well and happen to be black, they will create something to complain about. This is why I only look out for good news about black women. There are lots of black women doing great things but people are too busy complaining. I guess it's just human nature, who knows right?

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    1. Hey Maria :)

      Good to hear from you :) Yes I think that the internet would be way better for me if i skip the comment sections. I do that on YouTube because there is too much negativity or just too many comments period. So I just watch. With some blog posts I have to do that too. I think that you are right that the authors are sometimes just angry about something, no one offline wants to listen to them, so they do it online. Having people online get upset makes them feel better but it will do nothing to solve their problem or the world problem they are complaining about.

      Activism groups and activist type people are the ones who will do something about such problems, and they already know what is going on so a blog post won't inspire them to do anything (they are already working on the issue). So I'm just going to keep these things in mind and use the internet to better myself and not to put myself in a bad mood. I'll join activist groups and committees offline and vote on things that I want to change. I'll read more books and watch the new/documentaries if I want to learn about world issues, or talk to people.

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