Complaint free world
Watching TV this morning, there was an interview with Will Bowen, a Minister at a church in Kansas City, US. I’m liking what he had to say – in 2006, he suggested to his congregation that they use purple bracelets to monitor their success at eradicating whingeing, complaining, sarcasm, gossiping and so on. The idea took off and now over 6 million Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in more than 105 countries. Bowen said that he’ll be hand delivering one soon to Maya Angelou. You can check out the website here.
Now, at first I thought I wouldn’t need to get one of these bracelets because I’m not overly prone to gossiping or complaining. But then I thought, hang on, I’m actually a bit of a whinger. I complain if I don’t get service in a shop pronto; I whinge about work non-stop (the dream is to live on the land and get out of corporate life); I can be sarcastic. The good news is I’m not much of a gossiper. I’ll dip into a bit of a gossip every now and then but most of the time I couldn’t give a toss.
I was reading this op-ed the other day, which examined the rising tide of violence in contemporary society. If I think back to my childhood way back in the Neolithic Period 🙂 kids could roam the streets freely, on bikes, playing games; we left our front door open; you could walk Sydney late at night without worrying if someone was going to rob you (or worse). The op-ed says:
“The free and easy rambles that characterised the childhood of today’s middle-aged Australians will never return for future generations. The way it is, is the way it is.….The type of public violence that’s characteristic of our times is appalling and it is worsening. It is gratuitous, opportunistic and vicious. The attacks are becoming more explosive and less restrained, as evidenced by the phenomenon of glassing.”
The op-ed suggests that the 24/7 nature of our society is to blame: “Social activity is now a 24/7 operation. This mirrors the unfriendly hours many of us are required to work. A generation ago, there was the working day, the evening and then you went to bed. Saturdays and Sundays were different to other days. Now there’s less distinction.”
We can saunter down to a cafe late at night or pop into a 7-Eleven convenience store at 11.00pm. We can go shopping all day Sunday (remember when there was no Sunday trading and shops shut Saturday at around 1.00pm?). The price we pay for this convenience is that we bump into far more people than we did say twenty years ago. But I don’t think the op-ed goes far enough. It talks about our changing social habits leading to more opportunities for each of us to be the victims of violence. What the article doesn’t examine is the changing habit of how we treat other people.
I’ve recently joined Twitter. So far I’m liking it but there are some potty-mouthed people inhabiting the Twittersphere. In Australia, we’ve just finished MasterChef and a 38-year old mum won. The live Twitter feed I participated in was full of comments focusing on her weight and “mumsy frumpy” appearance and tweets about how she was a cook and not a chef. I was disturbed by the level of personal criticism levelled at her. And I was not innocent either – I got caught up in commenting about how I disliked a certain male contestant.
Somewhere, somehow we’ve found it acceptable to be cruel, to humiliate, to use razor sharp criticism in our dealings with other people. So I for one am ordering that purple bracelet and will attempt to spend the 21 days scientists say is needed to form a new habit by not being nasty, critical or whingeing. And if I slip up, the purple bracelet will remind me and I’ll start the 21 days all over again until I get it right.
Why don’t you join me? With or without the purple bracelet – take the 21 day challenge. Spend the next 21 days not criticising, not gossiping or whingeing.