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The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

A short history of whining.

by
Frank J. Fleming

Bio

July 17, 2012 - 12:00 am

Some people look at all the wonders we have and advancements we have achieved and feel grateful and satisfied. Thankfully, this isn’t very widespread, as that would kill all forward progress. Instead, many people look at all these blessings we have, decide they deserve much more, and complain in an irritating manner until someone else comes along and gives them what they think should rightfully be theirs. We call this “whining,” and it is the driving momentum of society.

Whining has been a part of humanity since near the dawn of time. The main complaints of early man were primitive things, like not having enough food to eat. In fact, these people were often so busy trying to rectify these dire problems that they didn’t have enough time to complain about them. Eventually, though, man reached a point where having enough food to eat wasn’t a problem. Most people were then satisfied with this new situation, but one man, now freed up from solving his previous problems, searched for new ones and said something like, “This isn’t my favorite part of the mammoth to eat. I want a better piece.” But the innovation was not just in the issue he found but also in the idea that he wouldn’t try to fix it himself; he would instead bellyache until someone more capable solved the problem for him. It didn’t work, as scientists believe he was soon beaten to death by his tribe. But eventually enough people began whining that hitting them all really hard with sticks was no longer a viable option. Thus the only way to end the irritating sniveling was to satisfy the whiners. And thus society was forced to advance in order to end the shrill complaints.

Soon, society divided into two parts:

1) The problem solvers and innovators.

2) The whiners, who would keep saying the first group’s output wasn’t good enough.

Society continued to progress, and as it advanced away from simple survival, people found even more things to whine about.

“My toga is itchy.”

“This crossbow gave me a splinter.”

“My chariot’s wheels are squeaky.”

Eventually a type of man emerged whose job was solely to whine on society’s behalf: the politician. The politicians took charge of society, and we now had a world led by whiners. We call that “civilization.”

The United States of America has had an interesting history with whining. It was founded due to a breakdown in whining in which the British stopped listening to the colonists’ complaints. This forced the colonists to take matters into their own hands — the absolute last recourse of any whiner. And later, foolish settlers traveled west to the wild frontier, where no one could hear their complaints (except bears — and they would maul you for that).

But eventually all of America was settled and became a land of riches and opportunities with an unbelievable number of things to whine about.

“Most of the shows on TV aren’t very good.”

“The internet on my phone is too slow.”

“The fuel for my personal transportation vehicle that allows me to travel quickly cross-country whenever I feel like it is too expensive.”

What if early man saw all the things we have now? He’d be filled with awe and wonder. And then he’d hear us whine about all these things and be ashamed that he didn’t see all these horrible flaws as well. And what if a woman from long, long ago who had never heard of health insurance or had access to any contraceptives saw Sandra Fluke whining about how her health insurance wouldn’t pay for her contraceptives? That woman would be filled with chagrin at seeing such advanced whining, compared to her own small complaints of being too cold and too starving.

Yes, griping about all the things we have now isn’t easy, but we do have one group of people that helps us realize how bad things are. What is the main complaint of someone who has access to a worldwide network of information, can each day go to a store and buy cheap food from all over the world, lives in a climate-controlled building, and earns far more than most of humanity throughout history? That the “rich” have so much more. The rich are a great subject for whining, because no matter what we have, we can look to them and see what we don’t have and do deserve and that we need to whine until someone makes things more even by our own standards.

Whining has served man well thus far, and I can hardly wait to see what wondrous things we’ll have to gripe about in the future.

“My intergalactic spaceship doesn’t have enough cup holders.”

“My robot butler is too noisy.”

“My holodeck is too small.”

“Time travel makes me dizzy.”

“My health insurance won’t pay for all of my elective bionic limb replacement.”

However much greater life becomes, the only certainty is that we’ll be sure that we deserve more and that someone else should give it to us.

Frank J. Fleming is the author of Punch Your Inner Hippie, coming November 11th, and the science fiction novel Superego, coming later this year, writes columns for PJ Media and the New York Post, and blogs at IMAO.us, and also wants little Barry to wear a hat so he doesn't catch a cold.
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