Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 26, 2010 2:03 PM

Complaining Vs. Doing

Prior to Social Media and the ability for anyone to be a publisher, all individuals could really do is complain if they didn't like what was taking place in the media. Well, it's time to wake up and realize that times have changed.

There have been multiple instances (who are we kidding, it happens all of the time in places like Twitter, Facebook and in the comment section of Blogs) where individuals complain about the content. You won't have to troll too far to read statements from people who are making recommendations about everything from the use of language on a Blog or Podcast to who the creator of the content is to the very nature of the conversation that takes place within the community. There's nothing wrong with additional perspective, dissent, or adding color to a conversation. But, in the end, if you don't like what's taking place, all you have to do is start your own.

Yes, start your own. You can now do something about it.

In the old days (about a half decade ago) you were powerless. If you felt a talk radio program needed more of a female perspective, or if you felt that the voice of the African-American in the editorial section of a newspaper was missing, complaining about it was about all you could (some brave enough souls may have built up enough steam to start a movement for change). In 2010 (and it's been like this for well over five years now), you can change that by creating the type of content you like or that you feel is missing or that you feel might add value to the community as a whole. You can do this in words, images, audio and video and - on top of it all - you can publish it instantly (and for free) for the whole world to hear, connect and comment on.

Death to the armchair quarterback.

You won't be shocked to hear that it's easy to complain, but it's really hard to do something about it. The truth is, Social Media actually makes it really easy (in fact, simple) to do something about it. The sad reality is that most people will not. They'll simply complain (human nature is hard to change). Being critical is an important (err... critical) part of these online conversations. Criticism usually encourages those who are creating the content to take a step back and think deeper about what they can do to make their community better, but it can now go a little further. In fact, it can go a whole lot further than ever before.

Do you have what it takes?

Knowledge, passion, commitment, persistence, patience and a plethora of other words is what it takes to get the job done. It's all out there, and it's ready and waiting for you to add your voice. You no longer have to complain and moan that things are not equal (or the way you perceive that they should be). You can do something about it, instead of just complaining. How often do you a see a comment in a Blog post that reads something like: "I think you are so far off base and because I do, I have just launched a Blog to share with you (and the world) a whole new, different and fresh perspective that is sorely missing from these online channels."

I don't know about you, but that would make my day. It would be a welcome addition. It would also (probably) reshape the landscape of the Internet as well. That's something we're all constantly striving for together.

So, are you just going to complain about the way things are or are you going to do something about it?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Greg O'Brien
    Greg O'Brien

    Just one thing to say: Well said.

    Reply
  • Posted by Karen
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - thanks for saying it so well! This is what I was trying to say to someone the other day ... but you said it so much better!

    Reply
  • Posted by Bernie Borges
    Bernie Borges

    Mitch,
    I have a complaint....Kidding....The funny thing is that while those of us who regularly blog, Tweet, Facebook, etc., do so regularly and naturally we are still in the minority. As you point out, most people don't go online to voice their opinion. But, it's changing. As the public witnesses mainstream media invite them to engage online, and athletes and celebrities are engaging online, people are connecting the dots. They're starting to experience it. And, that's what it takes. An experience...

    Cheers,
    Bernie Borges

    Reply
  • Posted by James Dalman
    Mitch Joel

    Right on! The truth is if we want something to change, and we have the power to do so, then we DO need to act and quit talking. Be a contributor, not a spectator.

    Reply
  • Posted by theWeir
    Mitch Joel

    I think I might start a blog highlighting mediocrity and the lowest-common denominator...

    (PS - Amen, Mitch)

    Reply
  • Posted by Promotional Products
    Mitch Joel

    Great insight... My father used to tell me the same thing growing up...

    Reply
  • Posted by Maurice
    Maurice

    Agreed, and for the record, I am claiming responsibility for menu changes at Burger King and Harvey's restaurants, in 2004:
    http://www.crispyfries.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • Posted by Julia
    Mitch Joel

    In this age of (relative) transparency, 'doing something about it' can also take the form of contacting the person or entity directly. Engaging directly with a site/person/company/message that you disagree with, or at least wish to debate with is another highly effective way of changing the communications landscape.

    Not all direct communications are helpful though. If they read like irrational comments on a blog, not much might happen. But in cases such as me contacting an association about a message issue on their events page, much as I did with one of my favourite shopping websites, their ability to turn my opinion of their message into something positive and responsive helped them appear reasonable and caring because, well, they were.

    These direct conversations can only improve the transparency, accountability and credibility of those who wish to capture and/or maintain a large, loyal audience.

    Reply
  • Posted by Scott Webb
    Mitch Joel

    Well said Mitch. It's far easier to sit back and complain. I talked about the dislike of my former job, and I decided to turn to surround myself with positive and smart individuals - stuff that I was lacking in my job.

    I could still be sitting somewhere that I'm not happy, but we such an ability to change our own situation now. More than EVER before.

    I know that Julia mentions engaging directly to solve issues, but I see this post as complaining about more macro-type issues. I totally believe that if there is something specific that a company or person has done to make you upset, you should be going to them first. You should give them the opportunity to provide a solution.

    Taking Mitch's example of the need for a female perspective in talk radio, instead of constantly complaining about this to friends and family, you can now start a podcast for free and provide that very female perspective that you say is missing (or find a female that would be interested in starting a podcast with you). In the old days, you might contact the radio station and ask to talk to someone about this but then you're just an armchair quarterback.

    I'm a big believer in the fact that everyone should have a place online for their own voice.

    On a side note there:

    I'm waiting for the day that baby names are dependent on available domain names.

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Lorenc
    Chris Lorenc

    I just wanted to say, Mitch, how I've continued to enjoy—and gain from—reading your blog. And I don't think I'd be an expected reader. I'm someone who deeply questions a lack of inwardness in the tendencies of social media. Instead of armoring yourself, and driving me away, you give me even more to think about...and sharpen my own questioning—both about the limitations of social media, and if understood thoughtfully, what still might remain as insightful possibilities.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sire
    Mitch Joel

    Unfortunately most people do not have what it takes to run their own blog or whatever. It's much easier to complain about what someone else is doing than to actually roll up your sleeve and show them how it should be done.

    Reply
  • Posted by Donato
    Mitch Joel

    Totally agree and have been promoting positive stuff for our area for many years as was wanting to do something positive.

    Its always better to do something than nothing irrespective of how good a blogger you may want to be or become.

    Reply
  • Posted by Summer Boone
    Mitch Joel

    Nobody who creates true content wants only cheerleaders following them and commenting with accolades on every post...we need that "sandpaper" comment that challenges us and causes us to rethink our position. I've learned that unless you want to offer a solution to a problem, it's best to keep your mouth shut. Criticism is welcome as it spurs on the thought process. Complaints are just white noise...

    nice post...well done.

    Reply
  • Posted by Vickie
    Vickie

    Great article, Mitch! I believe this is my first time on your blog. To answer your question, I'm not going to sit back and complain. I'm going to do... Thanks :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Warren Whitlock
    Mitch Joel

    My only complaint... I agree with you and see no reason to do something about that

    :)

    Reply
  • Posted by patmcgraw
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with the major point - quit bitchin and start making positive changes.

    I disagree with your supporting point - "In the old days (about a half decade ago) you were powerless." That's a bit of a reach - people weren't powerless a half decade ago and we were able to lead change without twitter or blogs.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sought
    Mitch Joel

    I started a web site (and sticker business) to promote what I think is lacking in our world today: the message of Love. You're right, we can do something about it. We can put our message out there. So I did it. practice-love.com

    Reply
  • Posted by William
    Mitch Joel

    LOVE this. I've been sitting on an idea, just read an article that got my juices flowing about that idea, and bang, I read this perfectly timed piece.
    Thanks for getting me off my butt.

    Reply
  • Posted by Carl
    Carl

    Mitch, let's not underestimate the joys of complaining!

    Reply
  • Posted by Shava Nerad
    Mitch Joel

    I love what my dad used to say -- and he worked with Dr. King on the summer marches with the SCLC -- "God pays you by the job, not by the hour."

    Reply
  • Having read this I believed it was very enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this content
    together. I once again find myself personally
    spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
    worth it!

    Reply
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