G. Oddy & Son

"Holy hell am I tired today" was the firs thing he said, as he entered his apartment.

"Oh, hey. What's up?"; it was his room-mate

"Not much. You wouldn't believe the day I had today..."

He said this in a renounced manner, almost as if the words were falling through his teeth, as he sat on the couch with a groan. He sat there for a few seconds, and then started to talk again.

"Yeah. I had to wake up at 8 a.m. to go to work extra early, because my boss said I had to. Then there were all these rude customers. Constantly bickering with me and asking to see my manager. You know what the worst thing is? When I came back here, I found out that I had to go and change my car's oils, or something... So that's money out of my own pocket, you know?" 

He let out a sigh as he reclined further into the couch, as his room-mate turned towards him; there was a strange expression on his face: tiredness, contempt, a hint of pride, perhaps?

"Really? You think that you've had a difficult day? That's a cakewalk. I had to wake up at 6 a.m., as I do every day, and I worked for... what time is it now? Six? I had to work for ten hours straight! And that's not even the worst part: I could see my boss looking at me and I know, I just know that I'm going to get fired soon. Very soon. And as if that wasn't enough, I learned that my cat has some medical emergency, so I need to take her to the vet. Do you know how much a visit to the vet costs?"

He got somewhat flustered.

"Man, why do you always have to make things a competition? Can't you just accept that we both had shitty days and leave it at that? Huh?"

"Fine. I'm sorry."

It was then that the third room-mate decided to enter the apartment, and - go figure -, he too chose to complain about his day.

"Man oh man, you guys would not guess how tired I am. I had to get up at 10 a.m. - figure that, huh -, and then I had to work for seven hours. What was my boss thinking?"

He looked at his room-mate dead in the eye; he wouldn't dare say it, but he was thinking it. That day wasn't difficult; it was barely more challenging than a leisurely walk! But if he said anything, he'd be called a hypocrite, and what not, and people would have a good old laugh at his expense. He didn't want that, so he just shut up.

But you know, it's perfectly natural to think that, isn't it? The less fortunate of you might've done the same, thinking that they couldn't handle your workload, or that they couldn't walk a few metres in your shoes, let alone a mile. Why is it that we do this? Some misguided sense of competition, perhaps? A lopsided way to comfort others, and to tell them that there's always worse? Possibly, but you would guess that I mentioned these possibilities so early on, precisely because I wouldn't talk about them extensively from now on. That's right! This is a surprise philosophical essay, not a mediocre story! Ha!

First of all, a great majority of the population loves complaining. They do it constantly. They do it 'a propos' of just about anything. Why? I would wager that it originates from two facets of human nature.

The first facet is relatively simple: it's a social phenomenon. A way to catharsis-e, to cleanse yourself through a social interaction. In short, to get a load off of your chest. We complain because it makes the things we complain about slightly more bearable and less infuriating. Pretty simple thus far.

Second of all, we complain because it is a measure of our worth, or rather, it is a testament to how much we suffer, which is a metric of worth in our eyes. We always have a very high esteem for people who have gone through tough times. Most of the time, that is. For an example here, see the veterans, the infirm, the poor. And if not esteem at least pity.

But, that's not all: the amount of suffering that we have gone through is not only a kind of money, that is to be exchanged for sympathy; that's nonsense. The most important part of suffering is that it shows that we are objectively -at least in a subjective way- better than the people around us, who have been through less. We are better, because we have suffered more, and we have lived through it. Because we have endured the arrows and slings of fate, so to say. By saying that, by complaining, we are saying one thing and one thing only: you are weak (and the "you here is the others, you get it, you get it").

So it's a pissing contest, then? Yes. Yes, it is. And what's more, it is a fundamental part of human nature. Paradoxically enough, you would think that the people with the least worries would be the ones held in the highest regard, but even they feel a need to complain about their lives on a daily basis - and justifiably so. This is what separates us from the animals: they scream and they screech when in pain, and so do we, by yelling and by crying, but I think that conflating this need to express oneself when in pain or in discomfort with the act of complaining is wrong, and the product of lesser minds (Hahahahahahahahaha - oh God.), and that, instead, it is something else, something entirely sociological in nature, something entirely human. 

So, in short, go ahead and complain. Do it without worry and without measure. Everyone does. Or, at least, do it until someone calls you an arsehole.