I don’t know why this has only now occurred to me, but online complaints are rubbish. We’re supposed to have this great online conversation, this ability to go back and forth with friends, strangers, colleagues, artists, but it’s a blunted conversation in every sense.
Someone will do or say something, and then someone else will tell them they’re wrong. It might get heated, it might have others joining in on all sides, but it’s blunted in the sense that it stays only in that moment, only in that level. It doesn’t progress, there isn’t any real back and forth, neither side moves so much as a pixel.
It comes down to someone does something, someone else complains, and the first person shrugs. There may be swearing, but ultimately that’s as flat as it goes.
We should at least be able to review complainers. rank them. You can’t do it, if you even try to say a complainer is wrong then they act like you’re calling them a troll and consequently they act like a troll.
I think this is on my mind now because I had something like three complaints this week and they slotted so easily into categories that I long for there to be categories.
One was just a nutter. Once I’d decoded it and comprehended that his complaint about a piece I’d written was that it wasn’t a piece about something else and therefore I am, I don’t know, a stooge of the capitalist society who should be first up against the wall when then revolution comes, I ranked him as Delete.
I really did just delete it and so now I can’t check whether it actually was a man. but you know it was.
The next definitely was, because he put his name on it. In this case, he was telling me that I’d got something wrong about him in an article and he was right. He was right, I was wrong, I would rather not have had the mistake, I would rather he not have had to email, but I was glad he did and I corrected it.
I also just enjoyed the conversation. That was a pretty good kind of complaint.
But then there was the case of last week’s Self Distract. That featured me boasting about everything I’d done in 2019 and you saying oh, come on, it’s all either typing or yapping, waddya talking about?
Tthe complaint wasn’t that I’d gone on too much, though. I’d have nodded at that. instead, it was saying I’d missed something out.
It was saying that I’d skipped over a five-week workshop series I’d run late in the year and how good it had been.
That’s a pretty lovely complaint to get.
It’s also unequivocally lovely. You get that complaint and there’s no question, it gets slotted into the Lovely category.
So that’s Delete, Lovely and Usefully Enjoyable in the middle.
However, this week I did also have a producer telling me – not as a criticism, just as factual information – that for what I want to do with it, a script of mine features unacceptable language.
She didn’t mean it as a complaint, I didn’t take it as anything other than what I needed to know. But I have never in my entire life been told I use unacceptable language.
I need a category of complaints called William Feels Like a Searing Dramatist Now.