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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Social media allows cranks to band together to form a mob of idiots

Gale warning: Joanna Donnelly, meteorologist with Met Éireann
Gale warning: Joanna Donnelly, meteorologist with Met Éireann
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Well, have you had your 5-a-day yet?

Or, because it's a Saturday, are you taking things easy, just kicking back and maybe even relaxing a bit?

As it happens, the 5-a-day I'm referring to aren't the latest nutritional guidelines about which healthy superfoods you should be eating.

Nope, I'm talking, of course, about complaining.

If the national sport has always been grumbling, we've now managed to take the complaints culture to new levels of heroic high dudgeon.

Yes, we may have been grumblers, but we weren't complainers and there's a crucial difference.

Not only have we turned into a nation of complainers, we've turned into a nation of people who complain over the most ridiculous things for the most ridiculous reasons.

The latest catalogue of carps from mad people to Met Éireann was released this week and, frankly, it is a classic of the genre.

Not only are we obsessed with the weather, but we also seem to be constantly amazed when it rains or gets a bit windy, which is a rather irrational response given the fact that we live on a small rock in the Atlantic.

And when it rains, we get angry.

So, thanks to the good people in Met Éireann's complaints department - there's a bunch of people who must go home and cry themselves to sleep - we discovered that there's someone living in this country who blamed the weather forecasters because it was windy at the top of Carrauntoohil which, the last time I looked, was a mountain and mountains tend to be prone to be a bit of wind.

They've also received a barrage of complaints about barbecues being ruined because of inaccurate forecasting, but that ignores the venerable Irish tradition of standing in the back garden while the rain sizzles on the grill as you ignore your family's plea to stop being a dope and just come back inside and use the cooker. Then there were the complaints from conspiracy theorists who think that Evelyn Cusack and her colleagues are deliberately hiding geo-engineering by the Americans to which I reply... weather forecasters, eh? I always knew there was a touch of the 'New World Order' about Jean Byrne's outfits.

One truly spectacular gripe was about the apparently visible outline of presenters' underwear, which was: "Not freedom of expression of feminism, this is just a lack of human standards."

I can only applaud in amazed admiration that someone could be so determinedly cranky that they'd have a fit of the vapours because they could see the outline of a presenter's knickers.

In many ways, we should cherish our cranks. They undoubtedly contribute to the gaiety of the nation. But there is a slightly more sinister element to all of this, and we can thank social media for that.

You see, when I was a baby columnist, the cranks operated in deserved isolation. You'd get the letters from lone oddballs and they were always fun. In fact, myself and some of my colleagues used to collect all the poison-pen letters and compare them at the end of the week.

Nowadays, however, the cranks tend to hunt in packs. What's worse, they're no longer seen as cranks, because they've banded together to form a movement. Or as we call it in the trade, a mob of eejits. And as we know, every mob in history thought they were doing the right thing. Which is what makes them dangerous.

One of the many reasons I stopped using Twitter was because too many otherwise sensible people turned into mouth-foaming hysterics as soon as they saw something they didn't like. This brought us the lovely invention of the online petition from people who will only rest when the subject of their ire has been sacked, prosecuted and otherwise expelled from polite society - or what passes as their version of polite society, at least.

The appalling Love Island has been receiving a barrage of complaints in the last few weeks and not just for the fact that all the contestants seem to be going at it like rabbits. No, half the complaints have been because the people were smoking.

If you're going to watch Love Island, you've already proved that you're on a lower evolutionary rung than the rest of us. But if there was an Olympics for completely missing the point, then surely it's those people who watch the nightly orgy of stupidity and then become irate because someone lights a post-nookie fag?

This is the bit where I ask a serious question - have you ever complained about something? If so, why?

More importantly, what did you think your complaint would achieve, other than making someone's day a bit more difficult?

Here's the unpalatable truth which many people, particularly those of us in the media are reluctant to admit - ironically, because it will only attract complaints - rational people don't complain about something which has nowt to do with them.

They change the channel or they read a book or, y'know, just go about their day like a normal person.

Complainers like to think they're providing a solution to what ails them, but as the rest of us know, they're actually the problem.

So, make your complaints if you must, but remember one thing - everyone else is laughing at you.

Indo Review

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