I come from a culture of very gloomy, glass-half-empty people. People complain a lot, all the time, about everything. Men and women both complain. Complaining is a mode of interpersonal communication, akin to talking about the weather here in the US. It is a way to bond. Complaining does not mean that a person is incapable of dealing with their own problems, although the power that one has over one's own life is drastically lower there than here in the US. So yeah, there is a lot of bitching and moaning going on everywhere.
I am personally a high-strung and fairly anxious person. Some of it is my upbringing, but some of it is my temperament. I think this trait of mine is also responsible for my drive at work -- I am not one to rest on my laurels, not even for a little bit -- but I can be quite exhausting in my personal life. I worry all the time, constantly trying to predict all the things that could go wrong. I think subconsciously I have this misconception that worrying is somehow supposed to protect against bad luck; it's stupid, I know rationally, but this powerful programming is very hard to get rid of. My mother always used to say "When everything in your life is great, put a pebble in your shoe to bother you." Apparently, I was brought up thinking that the state of contentment and happiness is unnatural and painfully transient; it is bound to end quickly and tragically, so one should be the most worried when everything is fine, because who knows what kind of horror comes next. I think this way of thinking is fairly common in my culture, and definitely marked my upbringing. As a result, I am one tense overachiever who worries all the time, about everything. Every time my baby sneezes, I envisions how two weeks down the road he will have yet another raging ear infection (I really wish I were more wrong about this one). Every time a grant gets rejected, I envision that I will never again in my life get another grant and my research program will die a slow and painful death.
Interestingly, my husband, who is the product of the same culture, is a calm, relaxed person who does not worry about anything. He says "You worry enough for both of us." He obviously did not grow up with my mother.
Now, while I am sure you find this gratuitous insight into my psyche fascinating and/or eyeroll-inducing, that's not where I was going with this post. In the comments to Cloud's post from a few weeks ago, which I somehow missed when it appeared, there was a conversation thread about how people, especially women, bitch and moan all the time and how it is rare for women to say that they themselves are awesome, that their lives, their families, their jobs are all perfect. And, yes, how they complain all the time and don't do anything about their problems.
I cannot say why other people bitch and moan on the internet, but I can certainly say why I do.
1) I don't have the impression, at least in the circles where I move in real life, that complaining is welcome or even tolerated. None of my colleagues complain, I am sure that none would want to listen to me complain, and if I did that would imply a weakness on my part. So in real life I have to have my $hit together at all times. The only people in real life who hear me complain are my poor husband, and on occasion my mother on the phone. My husband is wonderful but I think it's not fair for me to offload all of my many, many worries and paranoias on him. He's not a therapist and he cannot expend all of his energy on calming me down.
One of the reasons I blog to begin with is to offload the things that bother me. Getting used to being in control and calm all the time, as expected in this culture, took me quite a while, and I really miss the ability to vent and shoot shit with people in real life. I miss this ability to talk the ear off of someone, it was highly therapeutic for me. This option no longer exists in real life; I tried therapy for a couple of sessions, but I found it quite off-putting; I might talk about it more some other time. Anyway...
So I whine, rant, bitch, and complain in order to offload fatigue and frustration, and overall feel lighter and better. The negative stuff I write is exaggerated, but these exaggerated negative emotions are exactly what I need. That does not mean my life is bleak, on the contrary. In objective terms, my life is absolutely wonderful. Getting rid of the frustration helps me see more clearly how wonderful it really is. One of these days I may find enough time to exercise, so maybe I'll become more upbeat at that time. Or not.
2) Being a Chicken Little who constantly thinks the sky is falling, I have a deep-seated fear of admitting that everything is perfect. Admitting that my life is great, which it really is, fills me with dread. I knock on wood. I fear some terrible punishment will come upon me. For instance, I was a total nervous wreck my whole last pregnancy, because I couldn't shake the fear that I am asking for more than my fair share of happiness (by going for a 3rd baby) and that as a result something will go very wrong. This whole nervousness was exacerbated or even brought on by the miscarriage that preceded my last pregnancy (for long-term readers, that was the time when I shut the blog down for a while, after which it re-emerged at the new location). So the whole pregnancy was marked by a very uncomfortable fight between reason and my irrational terrors. It was not pleasant.
Bottom line is -- it may be very hard for some people to admit that everything is peachy, even if it is and even they really want to. You don't know what purpose bitching and moaning online serves for someone. If you don't like it, just move on. People's relationships with blogging can be casual or serious, torrid or made in heaven. And never assume that you know anything, not really, about a person from one or even a hundred of their blog posts. In real life, getting to know a person takes a lifetime. What makes anyone think it is possible to accomplish the same feat online in astronomically shorter times?
And, of course -- don't believe everything you read on the internet.