“The refereeing at my daughter’s soccer game was terrible.”
“It’s the teacher’s fault that my son is not doing well in school.”
“I won’t go back to that restaurant because my French fries were lukewarm.”
“Because of all the fake news, I don’t get the credit I deserve.”
Welcome readers to the “Whining States of America,” the land of the “woe is me”; home of the habitually chagrined. One inadvertent misstep with the local whiner and you may getbanned to culpable Siberia.
Okay, pause for a second and envision those annoying gripers in your life. You know who they are. Like pesky mosquitoes, they’re petulant, irritating energy drainers who wear you out with their constant bitching and bellyaching.
Unlike past venues, social media has given your garden variety whiners fertile ground for spewing their grumpiness. If it’s not the Democrats, Republicans, old folks, New Yorkers, bad drivers, cashiers with an attitude, blah, blah, blah, they’re sure to find something or someone else to whine about. With them the glass is always half empty, and everyone’s an idiot except them.
Of concern is that these card-carrying members of the gloom and doom crowd are growing in epidemic proportions and running haywire at the dinner table, in the long lines at the airport, in bars, on talk radio and, like I said, on the pages of social media. They log on to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to unleash their bile and vitriol.
“Whining is contagious and destructive,” wrote Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut in his excellent book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Comparing notes on how unfair or difficult something is does promote bonding – and thatis why griping continues, because it’s reinforcing an us-against-the-world feeling. Very quickly the warmth of unity morphs into the sourness of resentment.”
Whiners roll their eyes in contempt, write snarky letters to the editor, sound off on Facebook or gripe about the immigrants, politicians, the homeless, used car salesmen, the ungrateful daughter-in-law and little Tommy’s failure to put the toilet seat down. Like infants they cry for attention and know that if they whine long enough someone will give them a listening ear.
Whining versus Complaining?
Conventional wisdom has it that “whining” and “complaining” are the same thing. However, although the two may overlap they do differ according an issue of Psychology Today. According to that magazine, complaining and whining can be distinguished by the nature of the dissatisfaction and by our motivation for expressing it.
“Complaining involves voicing fair and legitimate dissatisfaction with the goal of attaining a resolution or remedy. When we voice legitimate dissatisfaction but do so without the goal of attaining a resolution we are merely venting. And when the dissatisfaction we voice are trivial or inconsequential and not worthy of special attention, we are whining.”
Now short of a temptation to pull a vanishing act or cut their umbilical cord when a habitual whiner is headed your way, how might you redirect them in another direction? Here are a few tips:- Set a time limit on the amount of time you’ll give them (5 minutes at a max)- Keep your advice brief without debating them- Overwhelm them with positive optimism- Reframe the situation in a context maybe they never considered.- Ask them for suggested solutions- Wish them well, say goodbye and quickly exit stage left
Hey whiners out there, I leave you with this to noodle on: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who has no feet.”
Now whine about that!
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Shenandoah Valley Hit, The Echo World, Black Market.com, the Chapel Hill News and Views, founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award conferred by the Shenandoah Valley Hit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org