I keep running into revolutionary whiners online, and honestly I think they’re one of the biggest problems in modern internet discussions.
No matter whether it’s politics, advocacy, fandom, media news… The revolutionary whiners clog up discussion with naysaying and defeatist attitudes. It doesn’t matter if they’re right, left, centrist, or some label you have to google because it’s too vague-yet-specific–revolutionary whiners will be there.
I’ll define a revolutionary whiner for you if you don’t know what I mean:
Imagine you’re in a city council meeting, discussing a new transit funding proposal with a big group of citizens and city planners. You’re trying to figure out where to build a new train station and how to re-zone the surrounding area to keep rent low but increase amenities. It’s a tricky process, and one that requires a lot of public input. Once this train station gets built, your city will have a direct train to the nearby metropolis, twice an hour.
Then in comes some grumpy face. “Why bother with this charade?” they ask with a disgusted sneer. “The train is clearly another type of capitalist power grabbing to enrich the developers and send more people to slave wage jobs and consumption-heavy shopping. Until the system changes, this is all a waste of money.”
Or, maybe, instead, they say, “Why bother with this charade? It’s a woke virtue signal meant to funnel more of our citizens to the big city to indoctrinate and trans them. Our taxpayer money spent on something that will enrich the metropolis at the expense of our city. Until the system changes, this is all a waste of money.”grumpy face
Something like that. I’m not even arguing for or against any of the points this grumpy person is saying. I’m arguing that it’s reductive and annoying.
Revolutionary whiners will look at a situation and apply the widest lens possible to make it seem pointless and evil. Got a problem with the local library closing too early? It’s all part of the gutting of social services and a sign that the city is dying. Got a problem with the new blockbuster movie? Hollywood is trapped in a death spiral of big mediocre franchises. Got a problem with Americans not being able to speak a second language? Americans are an uncultured, insular people.
Stuff like that.
I get it. Political anguish is a very real thing. When you learn about the way that badly designed structural systems can wreak havoc on millions of lives, it’s kind of depressing. There’s plenty of moments in my life where I’ve lamented or raged about things dying or declining.
But some people will interject this line of thought into practically everything. When some big-name news anchor gets #MeToo’d, there’s a whole contingent of people who will immediately turn this into a discussion about the way men in power are able to abuse their workers… Almost as if dismissing the actual man himself and the awful shit he did.
It’s a valid discussion to have. Systems of power are rife with abuse and need to be stopped. But it’s not the ONLY thing that exists. An overall negativity about every facet of life that leads to people just complaining and that’s it.
Time and time again, I’ll have a discussion about reform, about my ideas for changing whatever, whether it’s improving my hometown’s downtown or better ways to consume the news without going crazy, and so many people will just go, “Nah, this is pointless because of billionaires/corruption/bias,” whatever fits the situation.
If you bring up a problem, the problem is all that matters. It’s another point for giving up. Nintendo’s being rude again. Corporate greed run amok. And yet… Revolutionary whiners will just sit there and let it continue happening unabated.
Revolutionary whiners want to talk up the doom and gloom of Climate Change. They will certainly remind you how little plastics recycling makes an impact. But if you ask them ways to reform the recycling system, or things we can do as individuals, they’ll go, “No. This is a problem for the corporations who make the pollution. We’re doomed unless the system changes.” And then go continue ordering Chipotle by delivery I guess.
They don’t want to do ANYTHING. They just want to complain about the systems without any activism, without even trying to discuss or raise awareness or contribute in any way. It’s just an excuse to opt out.
Of course, revolutionary whiners are the first ones to openly admit they don’t vote in elections. Rigged for the powers that be, they’ll say. No point trying if the system is broken, I guess.
Yeah, the system is broken. We all know this. What are we going to DO about it?
It’s the worst, thankfully (?), among so-called radicals, accelerationists, what have you. People who really do think the system needs to be overthrown, destroyed, thrown out, violently if need be. Tankies and neo-nazis alike.
I’m going to stake out my extremely controversial opinion right now: I generally don’t think we should achieve reform by way of war and massacres. Sorry if that’s too much of a hot take for you.
Anyway, these radicals will preach all day on social media about how corrupt everything is and we need the revolution to come to [Restore the monarchy | End the proletariat | Return to agrarianism] (Choose one or more). But they have no idea how to go about doing a revolution, let alone what comes after. That’s a very good thing.
You saw what happened on January 6th, 2021. A bunch of far-right lunatics got coerced into attempting a coup, except once they finally got in the door they just sort of lingered around confused and vandalized rooms. There was no actual plan, and we should be very thankful for that.
Revolutionary whiners at their most extreme are your racist QAnon uncle, or your technocratic meritocracy tech bro roommate, or the North Korea stan in your Discord server. They’re never going to do anything but complain. But they’re still a tremendously negative impact on the entire wider world.
The grimness, the defeatism. That kind of stuff really can spread. It can really put people in a dark place. Maybe their spreading negativity is supposed to raise awareness of an issue, but it’s clearly not working. Revolutionary whiners don’t think about the consequences… Possibly because they themselves are already in a pretty dark place.
Just… my final words, and a self-promo. A whole lot of my books deal with the idea of corrupt systems. Governments, power structures, social networks, all of it can be abused and I enjoy writing about that. But I also enjoy writing about what happens when the systems break. About reform, revolution, total collapse, and the blurry spaces between those three ideas. My next book series, potentially coming next year, will be extremely about this.
But I can’t and won’t let myself succumb to the revolutionary whiners. I speak through my art, and I speak to my communities where I can. I may not have any power to change the system directly, but I can do my best to advocate for what I believe can make a difference.