Edited by Sofia Rüdiger and Susanne Mühleisen
[Internet Pragmatics 5:1] 2022
► pp. 66–91
This article explores the pragmatic act of complaining on WeChat Moments (henceforth Moments) focusing on the following question: When complaints are made in a social context where ratified viewers are hard to define, how are such acts constructed and construed? The multimodal data under study come from a project designed to address the under-examined issue of indirect complaints in Chinese social media. Drawing on the conceptualization of frame analysis in pragmatic studies and informed by a conversation analytical approach, this article proposes the concept of social complaints, accounting for how Moments users employ it performatively to deal with serious matters, to socialize and to manage rapport with people in their social networks. Teasing, it is found, is often performed in both complaints and responses to the complaints, which manifests Moments users’ flexible positioning strategies in handling interpersonal relations.