Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Useless Ranters

"I just have to get things off of my chest," some people say. "When I have something to say, I just have to say it. I don't care what anyone thinks."

Translation: "I am completely egocentric."

Why do people feel justified in bragging about this awful tendency? When someone says something like this, I don't know what to say. Should I respond with a sarcasm-dripping: "Wow. Awesome. You're awesome"? Or, should I praise their obnoxiousness and pretend it amounts to courage? Personally, I think, if you are going to point that out about yourself, you might as well get T-shirts printed up that say: "Hello. I am an egocentric ass. And, what's worse, I am proud of it."

Ever notice how people, rather than deal with their character flaws, tend to arrogantly embrace them? It's the ultimate personal cop-out. (As I have said before, women calling themselves "bitches" is one of my all time least-favorites.)

That said, does the angry rant have any practical purpose outside of making the ranter feel better?

Nope. A rant is not reasonable argumentation -- it is a mere ejaculation of emotion. The problem is, I think ranters (both in conversation and in print) really think they are accomplishing something. But a rant -- not to be confused with a rational argument designed to support a claim -- is either going fire up people who already agree with you or it is going to anger people who don't. Where is the practical benefit in that? No one is persuaded to come over to your side from "the dark side" and those same people who don't agree with you are now going to be even more committed to resisting your point than they were before because you are, literally or metaphorically, yelling at them.

The only possible benefit to the ranter is that he or she might gather a large audience of people who already agree. (A lot of blogs thrive on this.) That audience, more often that not, tends to wind up looking like the proto-humans in 2001: A Space Odyssey, just after the first murder: hopping up and down and oof-oofing and banging their chests like gorillas.

My advice to ranters: just clam up. You contribute to nothing but your own anger-cleansing. Or, at least, rant on your own time: talk to yourself in the mirror. Or, write yourself notes. Or go to the primate house at the zoo and scream and beat your chest. You'll find sympathizers there and, soon, you and your brethren (and sistren, for that matter) will all be oof-oofing in blissful, simian, vine-swinging harmony.

But, what am I saying? You don't care what anyone thinks; therefore, this can't possibly anger you. Pure logic.


  1. This "say what I must" behavior seems more commonplace in 'net anonymity, or if not anonymous, in the format of a blog. I know a few people who SPEAK their mind, but most people seem to type their mind.

    When speaking, I agree that a person is being fundamentally egocentric, to the point of justifying annoyance in the listener; however, when written on a blog, which seems to function most often as an online diary/journal (of the teenage variety, not the literary variety), speaking this way is acceptably egocentric. Many folks make blogs intending to write about their lives (not their analyses, anecdotes, or comments of/on the world), and as such, it makes sense for them to write to get "things off my chest." It doesn't make it any less annoying, but I tend to shy away from writers who talk about themselves too much.

    For the latter half of this entry, I completely agree. Ranting serves no good purpose, particularly ranting about a specific topic (whereas a teenage girl ranting to her fried about a boy she likes who was meaner than she thought he should be might experience catharsis). Working with children has further confirmed my belief that ranting serves little useful function.

    (It's fair to say, however, that I rant to those closest to me about people in my life who frustrate me with reciting dogmatism at me whenever I open my mouth).

    ~ Matt



  3. Matt -- Well said. It is a matter of audience. We shoudl rant to our friends and family. They are th eonly ones who love us enough to put up with it and they are happy to comtribute to our catharsis.