Complaining right

Dear WordPress. I bought a service called Personal Plan from you. It included the tools to build and publish a blog. Because my blog is set as Public, you also show it on your Reader. Which is more than fine.

But I am unhappy about the fact that you publish data that is not Public in my blog settings. I am talking about the likes. If you read my About page you will notice that I am not much into this whole like thing. My reasons are multiple. I will name a few.

Growing up, my mother taught me that most of us have times in our life, when  we have to choose between being liked or doing right. She urged me to do the latter. So I learned early not to get too attached to likes.

Later I read an interview in which former Finnish cabinet minister, psychiatrist and jazz musician Claes Andersson explained how easy it is to get hooked on seeing yourself in the media. You end up feeling like you don’t exist, if no one mentions you. He confessed it happened to him too, despite his training. The like and follower counts have a similar effect.

I appreciate each of my readers for taking the time to read, and maybe even like, my blog posts. But I don’t want to count them.

I chatted with a nice guy from your support team about this. As far as customer handling goes, I give him ten out of ten. He understood my problem, he sympathised with me, he told me firmly that this is just the way the Reader works.

When I argued that I have not made this info Public in my settings, so your Reader should not override me, he understood. He offered the solution that I make my blog Private. We jointly concluded that this would be too cumbersome, considering the number of readers I have.

Finally your excellent support person said he would forward my concern to those who develop the Reader. He even remembered to warn me that it might take some time before my problem could be addressed. He made no direct promise that the situation would be corrected.

His customer handling was textbook perfect, which is why I described it. But it was still handling, not service; he couldn’t solve my problem.

So to make my point and speed things up, I make my request Public. Why not make me a happy customer? Write the missing piece of code that ensures that your Reader follows your bloggers settings in this. It is such a small thing, and it would be great customer service.

Why am I calling this blog “Complaining right”, you may wonder. One of my readers alerted me to the fact that there are studies that indicate that complaining may actually lengthen our lives. My first thought was that this may not be the best way to increase my life span.

To paraphrase a favourite saying of my former boss; when in doubt, find out. So I did. In addition to studies and articles about Living right, there were many about complaining  too. I sum them up: Don’t act like a rabid raccoon; complain right, if you want to live longer.

I am giving this complaining right thing a go here. If I understood the studies correctly, the right way to complain is to complain with a specific, reasonably achievable outcome in mind. To present your facts in an organised manner, and to do so through effective channels. This type of complaining will lengthen your life, because you are taking charge; you are doing something about the things that you feel are wrong. Something that may even have a chance of success.

My rant against the airlines, Flying, torture on wings, may also have lengthened my life, because it allowed me to blow off some steam. This is good only in small doses. You can’t let it take over your life. I knew my rant wouldn’t change anything. I have tried to complain reasonably to airlines. But after a good rant, I felt better.

I even had a moment of shared misery with one of my readers, who has decided to avoid flying when possible. Shared misery can be good for us in smaller doses.

But beware, misery may love company, but your company will not always love sharing your misery. I had feedback from a friend, who is flying to visit me. After reading my blog, she felt anything but better about flying. Which made me feel less good too.

To conclude my findings; complaining does not always lengthen our lives, which is fortunate. Life would be pretty awful, if everybody kept on complaining just to lengthen their life span.

Complaining can be damaging to our health as well as our relationships and careers, if not done right. I  don’t think I need to explain the hows and whats of complaining wrong. We have all been there. Both on the receiving end and the complaining end. Some more than others.

As the studies suggested, I tried to make my WordPress complaint in a neutral manner; not with a voice of outrage. I should have addressed it to the person responsible, not to everyone reading my blog. Unfortunately I had no clue who that is.

So, whoever you are, I am hoping you read this.