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Settle in, folks, ‘cuz I’ve been scrolling through feeds for FAR too long and I need to “vent” about something (don’t worry, you’ll get what “this” is all about soon enough).

We’ve all seen it in some capacity or another; hell, a great deal of us are even responsible for some of it: the myriad of complaints decked about our social media feeds.

In many ways it’s a small and insignificant happening, but, as such, it’s not unlike the metaphor of a drop in the bucket. If an entire civilization were to demand every citizen offer a single drop of blood into a bucket–just one drop of blood for each living person–then it doesn’t seem like a very tall order for any one person, does it? But then the drops keep coming. Then you’ve filled a bucket, but still more citizens are present to donate. Then another bucket. Then another. Blood-filled bucket upon blood-filled bucket are filled to teeming, until you’ve collected enough blood to recreate a war scene.

Now dump the buckets out for all the world to see. You’ve got an entire landscape drenched in gore.

All from a great many putting in their single drop.

Now, recent psychological studies have confirmed that complaining is actually mentally healthier than not; that, understandably so, it serves as a means of venting subjects of stress and anxiety and, in doing so, allowing us to find comfort in the empathy and support of those around us. But is this truly anything new? Were we not complaining in the 90s? Or the 80s? Did our parents not complain? And what of their parents? Is a study that states that complaining–venting–is a psychologically sound and even beneficial activity? Personally, I think it’s old news: human beings have their gripes.

Big whoop.

However, people the world over are now in an unprecedented state of being where everyone with any sort of social networking account (which is to say almost everybody in most parts of the world) has a potentially global voice. This is, when one stops to examine the sheer magnitude of what this means for mankind, an absolute miracle of modern technology; we live in a time when a person of limited financial resources and education can, with nothing more than a simple cell phone, can LITERALLY be “heard” the world over. It is a time where the boundaries of society haven’t just been broadened, they have been completely DECIMATED. It is, in terms of humanities ongoing drive to connect with one another, the greatest tool we have ever been offered. But therein lies a bit of the hiccup. A tool has purpose; a tool is engineered to get a task done with greater impact earned with less effort invested. Either we could spend half-an-hour trying to get a blunt rock to wedge a pointed rock between two points, or we can drive a nail with a hammer in less than ten seconds. Tools have been, since the dawn of our intellect, one of the ongoing factors that have allowed us to define ourselves as HUMAN and maintain the belief that we’re superior to any other living thing on the planet. After all, if you handed a hammer to a monkey with no clue as to what it was for, you’d probably have a chance to score some YouTube footage of a monkey howling angrily at the blunt object that it just knocked itself in the foot with? You might even watch the monkey start misusing the tool, possibly using it in ways that were dangerous to it and anybody around them.

Scary thought, right?

So let’s hand two-out-of-three of ALL the monkeys on the planet a hammer and walk away. All those monkeys toting around a heavy tool that’s blunt on one end and sharp on the other; a tool that, because of the physics of the handle, amplifies their already powerful force. Just imagine all those monkeys incorporating something like that into their daily habits and ongoings. Nobody to tell them that the innocent act of picking mites off of one another goes from being an innocent act of social grooming to being dangerous when, instead of using their fingers, they’re using the clawed-end of a hammer. Nobody to warn them of the risks when the playful antics of their young are amplified to skull-crushing blows because they’re all toting iron bludgeons fastened to the ends of heavy wooden handles.

Talk about the TRUE rising of the Planet of the Apes, right? (that was a reference gag; I know monkeys and apes aren’t one in the same)

So let’s take all the components I’ve put on the table and begin to assemble the point (I’m sure everyone’s dying for it by now):

People are–as they always have–going to complain. It’s a perfectly natural, rational, and, as we’ve covered, healthy response to the daily stresses we all face. It’s perfectly reasonable to turn to our lovers, our buddies, our family, and even total strangers just to have a good, old fashioned moment of “well this sucks.” When the store sells out of those shoes you wanted or when you were a half-hour late for that show you were excited about or when the waiter at that diner got your order all wrong; when the new soda flavor you wanted to try doesn’t meet your expectations or you lose the sporting event you’ve been training for or when that cute piece of ass that you REALLY can imagine as THE ONE thinks of you as just a friend–THESE are moments worth stomping your feet and genuinely getting in a good whine. But these are the moments that, 20 years ago, we’d pick up the telephone to vent about; the moments that, 30 years ago, we’d meet our friends at the roller rink at; the moments that, 40 years ago, we’d grouse about at the disco.

And so forth, and so forth.

A drop in the bucket. A moment of genuine whining.

Amplify it; multiply it; collect it; dump it over the landscape.

What happens when we take a tool that can amplify our normal activities on a global level?

We’re misusing a magnificent tool–a tool that we can use to connect and expand; to learn and unify and prosper–because we genuinely have no idea of the capacity that’s upon us. Now simple complaints and grouses are becoming digital cyclones of negativity, progressively picking up likes and +1s and being favorited and retweeted and shared and modified and rehashed.

Does every negative thought from every single person–great and small–truly need to be a projected on such a global level? Hell, we all roll our eyes when big-time celebrities whine about… well, ANYTHING on a public level! Do we expect our meager complaints to ring on some greater level?

Do we truly want our landscapes drenched in so much red?

I don’t expect all complaining on the internet to stop, nor do I much want it to (after all, a little day-to-day conflict is what makes life fun; why should Facebook friends be forced to miss out on the excitement of that douchebag that cut you off on your way home from work), but let’s at least filter it, huh? A bunch of monkeys running around with hammers can be a recipe for hilarity so long as the hammers aren’t being utilized for every little monkey-quirk; set down the hammers to groom and give us gladiator monkeys, instead. Maybe it’s just the entertainer in me talking here, but some of my most popular FB posts have been complaints BECAUSE I presented them in a way that was humorous for those reading them; just because I’m angry or miserable doesn’t mean I have to spread that rage and misery to people I care about. And, when all was said and done, I actually felt better knowing that my rants could make others laugh.

If nothing else, I’d just like to see us–the first generation to wield a tool of THIS magnitude–to use it as a means to not be remembered as being miserable. If we can’t figure out in this lifetime how to use the internet and social networking to be infinitely wiser and more prosperous, can we at least use it to be happy?

This Literary Dark Emperor, for one, is ready for more entertainment 😉

As always, stay gnarly.

Nathan Squiers

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