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The value of complaints.

I keep seeing this “21 Day Challenge” thing going around.  The idea is that you wear a bracelet on one wrist and any time you complain, you swap it over to the other wrist; sarcasm and snark count as complaining.  You keep that up until you can go 21 days without complaining.

That sounds pretty good, right?  We could all be more positive.  But here’s where it concerns me: there is no exception for *valid* complaints.  There is no exception for when you need to say “Hey, that thing that’s happening, that’s not ok.”  And that *is* a complaint, make no mistake.  Calling out bullshit, or mansplaining, or harassment is complaining.  And it’s IMPORTANT to call that stuff out.

I’m down with reducing the number of snarky comments, or “I hate the weather.”  Everyone in San Francisco already knows that it’s ludicrously hot, none of us need to reiterate it.  A suggestion that I heard that I quite liked was that in any case where you’re tempted to complain, bring up a potential solution to the problem, too.  This is still kind of problematic, because sometimes your solution is going to have to be “don’t do that thing that you’re doing that’s not ok,” and you have no power to control whether the other person will actually take your solution to heart, but it’s better than just not saying anything.

If we begin to stigmatize all complaints, then we make it that much harder to do the already difficult work of calling out racism, privilege, sexism, abuse, even.  And that is all kinds of not ok.  So.  How do we fix this challenge so that valid complaints are not stigmatized?  Thoughts?