In a free local paper that goes out every Tuesday in my area, there is a section called “Sound-off” where people can complain, give praise, or bring concerns about basically anything in our town. I get a kick not only from the main complaints (most recently about the poor care of our town’s potted plants throughout the main streets), but I get my real jollies out of the rebuttals (mostly about people saying how stupid it is to fill pages in the paper about plant care). From what I’ve been seeing, if you want to draw a concern about something in your town in the local paper without getting nasty feedback, you’d be best to tread lightly.
If you post a complaint and talk about how “stupid” the store manager is of the gas station in your local town, how “lazy” the local law enforcement is, or how the town’s youth has “gone to pot and are a waste of society” (actual complaints in this week’s issue in our local “Sound-off”) be ready to face serious attack. If you want to make a point, refrain from name-calling, or else someone who could give a rat’s ass about your concern is going to respond simply because you said something negative, and you defeat the purpose of the point you were trying to make, since all people read is that you called something or someone a nasty name. You may actually HAVE a valid point, but raising hackles isn’t the way to do it.
Voice your concern as something the whole community should be concerned about, not just YOU. A recent complaint about the lack of wheelchairs in grocery stores by a person who obviously felt entitled to being wheeled around went on and on about how SHE couldn’t shop anywhere because she had no wheelchairs available to cart around in. Many letters about how lazy, fat, whiny, and useless she was ensued the following week. Had she made a point that the disabled and elderly in the whole community could benefit from more wheelchairs in a grocery store, perhaps more sympathy would have been thrown her way. Instead, she just sounded pompous, and her point was not made, clearly.
Be sure to offer a solution if you are going to voice a complaint. A member of our community suggested sending out our youth for school projects to clean up the flower pots in town, after complaining that they looked disgusting. If you have a problem, create a solution before voicing your opinion in the local paper.
Don’t sign off as “pissed off farmer”, “I hate (insert state here)”, “Kiss my ass (insert politician here)”, or “White Supremist” or other racist, irritating, immature, or just plain rude signature. If you made a totally awesome point and then signed off as “Smarter than everyone else” (in last weeks’ local “Sound-Off”), buh-bye point, hello feedback. If you want to let off a little steam at the end of your bitch-fest, sign off with something more tolerable, like “disgruntled elder”, “disappointed farmer”, etc. You want people to listen to you, not rebut your point.
Source: Local “Sound-Off”
Personal experience voicing community complaints (and solutions) in the local paper without yucky feedback.