One of the distinctive literary forms that social media — including DeKalb School Watch — has birthed is the letter of complaint addressed to everyone and no one—a list of grievances that will never reach its intended target.
This kind of letter of complaint is often quite eloquent and well thought-out—it’s written not just as a crabby grunt, but as a fantasy of effective complaint. All of us fantasize rhetorically—rhetoric, T.S. Eliot said in an essay on Othello, is the way we talk when we are listening to ourselves talk, being impressed by our own language. And this kind of social media rhetoric allows us to deliver the cutting insult, the outraged rebuke, the detailed catalogue of wrongs, that we are all mulling over in our heads much of the time. A letter to the people who have wronged us, posted in public for all to see—what a wonderful invention!
Except that the people who are seeing it are never the people to whom it is ostensibly addressed. This is a form of complaint that accomplishes nothing, that is designed to avoid genuine conflict, which might come about if we actually got up and spoke the words we confide to the keyboard. These letters are, in a new and pure sense of the words, passive-aggressive: passive in the face of reality and aggressive in the fantasy-space of the Internet.
The overall effect is powerlessness.
And, may we say, with a deep sigh, your acceptance of the status quo in DCSS.
Do you really want change? Do you really want to make a difference for yourself and for your students? Repeat this over and over and over as your mantra:
If not here, then where? If not now, then when? If not me, then who? If it is to be, it is up to me.
Read the entire article, Dear Facebook, I’m Fed Up,which appeared in the May 4, 2014 issue of The New Republic.