From the New York Times . . .
The authors of the paper assert that we are now in a culture that valorizes victimhood. “The moral status of the victim, at its nadir in honor cultures, has risen to new heights,” they write, which “increases the incentive to publicize grievances.” Instead of pursuing violent or legal confrontation or letting the insult slide, the victim now appeals for support from third parties while “emphasizing one’s own oppression,” often through social media.
So pervasive is this sentiment that it breeds “competitive victimhood,” infecting even those who have relatively little standing to cite their persecution — for instance, white people who bring up reverse racism, or various Fox News broadcasters. (As one may expect, the paper has been endorsed by social centrists and conservatives such as Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who has written about discrimination in his field against conservatives.)
Although microcomplaints are an apolitical phenomenon and distinct from complaints arising from microaggressions, there may be a connection. Since whatever the microcomplainers have endured casts their adversaries as villainous (whether it’s a tardy cable technician or inclement weather), it correspondingly raises their own moral status as innocent victims.
Bellyaching for sympathy is not new behavior. But on social media, in an era in which everyone, as per Tony Soprano, is “crying and confessing and complaining,” it is being legitimized and rewarded in ways we have never seen. Gary Cooper probably would not have grumbled about the Starbucks barista misspelling his name in order to gain points.