Friday, January 13, 2023

F ³ : The Complaint du Jour


Goodness knows there are plenty of things in modern life worth complaining about. Serious things, and not so serious things. It seems to be a part of human nature. One year I tried giving up complaining for Lent. It didn’t go well.

Social media gives us the opportunity to find kindred spirits who share our ire. 

Don’t you hate how Starbucks has taken gingerbread loaf off the menu?

What were they thinking when they tore down the old school building?

Recasting another actor in that role is a crime against humanity!

Yeah! Me, too! Right on! 

It’s a whole new thing. Instant collective complaining.

The complaint du jour appears to be this:

And, by association: 

Photo credit: Peter Dejong, Associated Press

I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, because almost any Big Thing in the news or large publicity campaign or media event will have its detractors. I do find it curious how many people seem to feel that this particular story and these particular people don’t have a right to intrude into their own personal state of consciousness.

They’re not complaining about how media creates the big splash that dominates news cycles. They’re not complaining about how selling books has become selling a cult of personality. And. let’s face it, the publicity around this book isn’t pre-empting their favorite television shows or preventing them from keeping up with world events.

It’s these people. These particular people: Harry and Meghan. They’re taking up space and that really bugs them.

Truth in advertising: when I was in high school the “In Thing” was Monty Python. I was surrounded by classmates quoting lines from famous sketches. My response was to decide I wanted nothing to do with it because I was just rebellious that way. That’s human nature, too, I guess. (I delved into MP later, when I didn’t feel inundated by it.)

So, everyone certainly has a right to complain if they want to. I’m not denying that.

But let me tell you who I don’t see complaining: people who have experienced or who understand childhood trauma, and people who have experienced or understand systemic racism. They may or may not be watching Harry and Meghan on Netflix or buying and reading Spare. It’s not about being a super fan, or a consumer of dirt on the Royal Family or a devotee of celebrity gossip.

I find that telling.

They know what a lot of the general public does not: you can’t truly understand the stories of Harry and Meghan without understand that childhood trauma and racism are at the center of how they got where they are today. 

News cycles don’t last forever. Buzz is temporary. Blink, and it will be over. But, honestly, gaining some insight into childhood trauma and racism and the harm they do isn’t the worst thing that ever trended on social media. 

Do you have to be interested? No. Do you have to like them? No. But they have every right to tell their stories and take up some space in the world. 


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