Sometimes, I can be very British – get me on a good day and I can be pretty forthright and up front, but in the main, I’m rather good at putting up with inconveniences and adopting the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach… Which really means I’d do anything to avoid making a fuss and complaining, no matter how justified it might be.
This was brought home to me this morning – sat on a train, whilst admiring the colours of a beautiful sunrise through the window, I was luxuriating in the warmth from the heater at my feet – such a difference to the previous night’s ordeal. I’ve stayed in some ropey hotel rooms in my time, but last night’s was a whole new experience. Shabby, I can handle; cramped, I can put up with – this was both – but the one thing I instantly noticed was a distinct chill in the air. Of the two radiators, the bathroom one was completely non-functional, and the other was dutifully doing its lukewarm best to heat the space between the curtain and window, but completely failing to warn the room. No doubt it would improve later, I thought heading off to town to find somewhere to eat.
It didn’t: 9pm found me hunched in front of the TV, clad in a fleecy blanket and shivering. I should have complained and demanded a new room, but that deep-seated reluctance to cause a fuss won the day, and I miserably opted to crawl beneath the bedcovers and suffer the inconvenience.
I am by no means unique – I can recall numerous occasions when my reticence to complain has resulted in having to put up with far less than desirable circumstances, and I’ve seen many others make exactly the same sort of choices. Indeed, it’s always struck me as a bit odd that when together with friends on the receiving end of bad service, poor quality or shoddy performance, we’re more that happy to insist they should complain, whilst fully acknowledging secretly that there’s no way that we would, if faced with a similar situation.
Maybe it’s for this reason that I’m frequently shocked, even appalled, at times by the nature of the complaining that seems to form an integral part of SL for a very vocal segment of the virtual populace. My thoughts on the matter have changed over time. At first, I thought that the inordinately high proportion of complaining I witnessed in connection with SL might have something to do with the relatively large numbers of American citizens from whom its userbase is derived – the Americans I find are far more adept at raising concerns than most Bits – that’s not a criticism, just an observation – but now I’m not so sure. It certainly doesn’t account for the level of sheer vitriol and nastiness that all too frequently accompanies expressions of dissatisfaction about so many aspects of SL.
Whether it’s complaints levelled at Linden Lab, moaning focused on individual designers or hatred being heaped upon other avatars, such complaints are usually couched in terms that go way beyond mere rudeness, and display blatant aggression and bitterness. Indeed, if you were to speak to me in similar terms in RL, I’d have little difficulty justifying a hard punch in the nose as a reasonable response! The vehemence of some of the language used is such that, only recently, the Lab felt it necessary to build clauses into the TOS to protect their employees from threats and verbal aggression.
It’s not just the manner in which people in SL choose to complain either. For some reason, SL users – whether or not they are currently active inworld, feel that they have every right to complain about absolutely anything, no matter how unjustifiable it may be. Would you march into a store in your local shopping centre and bitterly complain because they refused to make an outfit in a bespoke colour or design, just for you? Would you then give that store a poor review, accuse them of terrible customer service and make personal attacks on their designers on online forums? Of course you wouldn’t – if just defies all commonsense and common decency – yet this happens almost daily in SL, and pretty much every store owner and designer will have stories to tell to illustrate the point.
There is something about SL that seems to bring out a presumption in some that they are entitled to have their SL their way, and if they can’t then they’re damn well going to make a hell of a fuss until they get it, no matter how unreasonable, or impossible. The virtual world, it seems, has far more than its fair share of Verruca Salts… Unfortunately, they all have loud and intrusive voices to match their loud and intrusive – but nonetheless worthless – opinions.
Given the choice, I’m bound to say that putting up with occasional inconveniences, and keeping one’s mouth shut, even when a complaint may be completely justifiable is infinitely better, by far, than ever considering taking the route that some people in SL seem to feel they are entitled to – I’ve absolutely no patience for such an attitude and I certainly don’t accept it.
But it’s harder to believe in the truth
She’ll write a message on a billboard
And I’ll send it to you
Beck – No Complaints