Why Are We Complaining on the Internet?


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The internet has provided us with a myriad of comforting places full of so much positivity. We’ve created spaces online where we can meaningfully connect with others, and we’ve found networks for hobbies and interests that bring us alive. We’ve used sites and platforms to pursue passion projects, launch dreams, stay connected with our families and host fundraisers to benefit causes that are changing the world.

We all know there’s a dark side to the internet, too, the side that is full of hate and judgment and cruel commenting made from anonymous accounts. We’ve witnessed the negative impact that this type of darkness has had on people all over the world, ranging from company CEOs and world leaders to middle school children and bloggers.

But there’s a middle ground that we don’t talk about quite as much, the space in between the positive and negative that’s a little grayer. We’ll call this the passive space, the place where comments are made in a way to veil the true intent of the post while communicating a different subtext, one rooted in complaint. You’ve seen this, right? There’s a certain type of post floating around the world wide web on a daily basis, one that revels in the greatness of something while simultaneously making a passive, less obvious remark that reveals an underlying complaint or frustration. This passive aggressive perspective is one that we’ve observed over time, and it’s something we haven’t quite known how to address.

Image via Monica Outcalt