Community catches a bad case of complaint culture


Photo Illustration: Sophie Jaro

Complaints rain down on the whole community as people learn about school changes this fall, but the complaints offer no solution or comfort.

Mari Knudson, Cover Story Editor

Like a knee-jerk reaction, one of the most common human responses to change is to complain. Based on recent backlash from students to changes in the community at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, members of St. Paul Academy and Summit School are no exception to the culture of complaint.

Among the popular topics of conversation in the hallways of SPA throughout September were the new developments in school policies and school spaces, including the removal of the junior and sophomore benches and the lack of door on the senior lounge. While it is reasonable that students want to discuss these changes, the widespread tone of negativity that surrounds these discussions is not.

In small doses, complaining can be a beneficial outlet to express discontent. If students were not allowed to react unfavorably to school developments, there would be a lot of built up frustration and not a lot of critical thinking. Nonetheless, the extent of complaint that occurs in SPA is unhelpful and has serious negative repercussions.

While expressing discontentment can lead to positive action, most often when people complain, they expect sympathy rather than solutions. Any solution that is offered is most likely rejected without a second thought.

This type of complaining can often lead to a path of self-pity and unhappiness.”

This type of complaining can often lead to a path of self-pity and unhappiness. A study performed by Bogdan Wojciszke in 2009 exploring the psychological impacts of complaining showed they included suffering a decrease in mood. When people complain without attempting to change their situation, they focus on the negative aspects of their lives, convincing themselves they are worse off than they actually are.

Often in the SPA community, complaining can be a source of conversation for students who would otherwise have nothing to talk about. Other times,students complain to distinguish their refined tastes; for example, students criticizing the school lunch to highlight their gourmet palate. Rather than focus on the negative, students should start small talk about sports, weather, or what’s going well today. These simple alternatives substitute the steady supply of whining with something more mentally stimulating. Despite the prevalence of complaining in the community, aware students have the power to vastly diminish its occurrence. Conversing more conscientiously can go a long way towards reducing complaining. Individuals in the community should challenge themselves to go one week without grumbling. The website A Complaint Free World sells purple bracelets that could be be switched from wrist to wrist every time customers catch themselves being excessively critical, challenging them to go 21 days in a row without a complaint.

Perhaps the simplest course of action for students would be to simply wait an hour after they think of a complaint to voice it, if they even remember it after that long.

This story was originally published in September 2015 print issue of The Rubicon.