AdviceSan Francisco

How You Can Stop Complaining About San Francisco

Updated: Jun 22, 2021 18:20
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image from Uptown Almanac

Oprah and Maya Angelou almost always know what’s best and they don’t want you to complain about San Francisco anymore. Here’s why.

I get it. There are a lot of things that suck about San Francisco. Hoards of tech bros roam the streets performing awkward bromantic gestures towards each other. The gentrification shit has hit the fan and rents are higher then the TransAmerica building on stilts. There’s a giant whooshing sound of creativity and weirdness being sucked through the transbay tube towards Oakland and all points east. Muni is generally a horror and all the new bars look exactly the same. Etc, etc.

SF’s problems are well documented, especially by those of us who happen to still live here. Often it seems that complaining about San Francisco is a dark ritual we are compelled to keep acting out together, even though it’s never very satisfying. Complaining is a little bit like cheap booze, it’s fun at the time but can leave you feeling like crap the next morning. All kinds of research shows that most complaining makes us unhappy, more stressed, depressed and causes premature wrinkling.

But detoxing from the complaining habit can be difficult. You may find yourself with nothing to say at social events and fighting the urge to comment on things that suck almost constantly. We often use complaining as a way to bond with others and as a sneaky method to back handedly brag about our own superiority (implied in any dig on tech types is that we are cooler and better then them). Be warned that the first few days of your detox might be uncomfortable and awkward as a brogrammer at a sex club. This is to be expected and is a natural part of the detox process. But with continued practice and vigilance your mind will create new more positive grooves and you might find yourself living in a whole new more positive world (and yes there will be unicorns).

There is one exception to the complaining rule. Strategic complaining to someone who can actually help you is tied to greater health and happiness. So if you run into Ed Lee at Zeitgeist feel free to vent about your high rent.


From a really great series created by Jessica Saia for the Bold Italic.

Since I’m not trying to create awkward silences at every happy hour in SF here are 10 great things about San Francisco you can use to get the conversation started. Coming up with your own list of the things you love is a good way to fill the air time that used to be dedicated to venting.

1. A two-wheeled Mecca: This is a great biking city with more lanes and routes being added all the time. So stop complaining about not being able to afford a car or find parking and like Freddy Mercury said “get on your bike and ride!”

2. The weather. The majority of people in our great nation are suffering through boiling heat and humidity right now, while we are powder fresh.

3. The Golden Gate Bridge: It’s still free to look at, walk and cycle across so what are you waiting for? This magnificent piece of engineering eye candy never gets old.

4. The Center for Sex and CultureCarol Queen and her band of merry minions are always fighting for your right to shame-free pleasure. While staving off eviction they also manage to offer wildly diverse programming with something to appeal to the pervert in all of us.

I still love SF

Do you still love SF? Then get your shirt here.

5. Writers with Drinks: For over 10 years Charlie Jane Anders has been wrangling great writers, cracking us up with her insane and insanely smart monologues and not judging us for getting drunk on the Makeout Room’s insanely strong margaritas.

6. Coffee: There is good coffee almost everywhere. Now are you going to use that caffeine buzz for good or evil?

7. The Mission’s 24th Street corridor: Badass independent bookstores, galleries, real taquerias, awesome dive bars, murals and a giant serpent you can sit on. What more could you ask for?

8. The SPCA: Don’t be mad because the stray cats have nicer accommodations than you do. They have been through a lot.

9. Funcheap SF: No matter how broke, lonely or sad you are there is an event here that will make you feel better.

10. Cable cars: Nobody complains about San Francisco while hanging off the side of a cable car cruising up or down an epic hill. Good cheesy (or clam chowdery fun)! San Francisco is the only place in the world that still has cable cars. How cool is that?

I’m starting my 21-day complaining detox now. Will you join me?

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Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson has been doing stupid stuff in San Francisco for almost 10 years. She loves dive bars, typewriters, and creative people. Buy her a beer and she'll solve all your problems.