This is a post about ranting. Ranting is something that I define as bitching without being all whiny about it.
Ranting is something that comes pretty naturally to most writers. However, for one reason or another not the least among them, fear of being ostracized, most writers tend to keep these urges in check.
Or at the very least, post them in places other than LinkedIn.
Somehow sites like LinkedIn are perceived as very businesslike and almost stultifyingly politically correct. Nobody wants to really offend anyone, because hey, they could be a client or good connection for referrals or whatever.
No one really wants to let loose on something that’s really bugging them.
Oh sure, they tell you that they are ranting, but really what they are doing is simply stating a point of view and often in the least offensive way possible.
Real Ranting Is An Affront
Real ranting, which is something I do a lot of on Facebook, is an act of intellectual aggression focused on whatever happens to be bugging you at the time.
In today’s world there real is no shortage of that.
But I do a lot of this on Facebook because, well everybody there is someone I actually know. And they kind of expect this from me.
And who any I to disappoint them?
Ranting Is Good for The Psyche
My mother, of all people, encouraged me to get things off my chest and not keep them bottled up inside. Perhaps she had some insight into what was later in my life diagnosed as Tic Syndrome, (a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome), a condition that is exacerbated by, among other things, stress.
She encouraged me to do whatever it took to get whatever was angering or frustrating me out of my system. One of the things I used to do a lot was to take an old hockey stick shaft and beat it against a tree until I was exhausted.
Fortunately, later on in life, I found that immersion into writing was just as effective, and of course, a lot less stressful for the tree.
My First Rants
These were expressed in blank verse poetry, mainly because at that point simply writing down my feelings was all I had the writing skills to do.
I still have a lot of these early rants sitting in a rather wrinkled pile in my sauna, and although I have read them dozens of times, I can’t really bring myself to get rid of them. Even though the pile is rather unsightly.
These would ramble on for pages and pages and were mostly experiments in stringing words together. Very little of it made sense. But it did do its job and helped me focus my anger and frustration into banging on a typewriter keyboard as opposed to banging a hockey stick against a tree.
The Ranting Evolution
As I grew more adept at writing and became a professional copywriter my rants became more lyrical. I also started to pick up on other people who were doing a damn fine job of ranting in music…like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and a little later Tom Waits.
This actually turned out to be an excellent outlet, although the ranting tended more towards satire than anger. Because to some extent I became a slave to the musical form. But it was gratifying nonetheless.
WAITIN’ FOR THE DRUGS TO TAKE HOLD
Some people run around in circles
Some they just sit still and wait
Some folks give their hearts to Jesus
Others give in to lust and hate
Some people lose their temper
And some just can’t wait to get old
But me, I just sit here so patiently
Waitin’ for the drugs to take hold
Some people think they know where they’re going
But they’re all lyin’ to themselves
Mostly they don’t really give a damn
About anything or anybody else
Some people think that it’s macho
To act real tough and bold
But I take it all with a grain of salt
While I’m waitin’ for the drugs to take hold
Sometimes it’s uppers
Sometimes it’s downers
It really don’t matter at all
Sometimes I can’t get
Enough of that stuff
That sends me straight up the wall
Sometimes I’m lost
In the darkness
Sometimes I’m worth my weight in gold
But mostly I sit here
Like some kind of crazy fool
Waitin’ for the drugs to take hold
Some folks are born politicians
They know bullshit baffles the brain
Some people wait for the thousand foot drop
Before they jump off the train
It ain’t like I’m askin’ for trouble
Or that I can’t be bought and sold
But I took myself out of the game when I started
Waitin’ for the drugs to take hold
The Editorial Rant
What happens if you’re a rant-prone writer with fairly well developed skills is that you eventually end up gravitating towards the flat out, straight ahead bullet right between the eyes kind of ranting that you can only do in some sort of editorial environment.
Painfully aware that no newspaper would ever hire me to just be bitchy, and besides journalists make crap money, I decided to create my own medium, which was a ‘review’ column called the Couch Potato Chronicles.
The Perfect Rantmobiles.
Many of my friends knew that I watched a lot of TV and movies and were constantly asking me about stuff that was worth watching. So I started writing little mini reviews and emailing them out. More to get them off my case than anything. This, of course, morphed into a full blown 2-3000 word more or less weekly column, called The Couch Potato Chronicles, which I wrote about 450 of over the course of 12 years and which evolved into Jim Murray’s Journal.
Not every piece was a rant, but there was a definite feeling that one could break out any any minute. That edginess was the fuel for the column, which I got to completely love writing.
Also, not every piece was a review. As it evolved it became a kind of journal and my own cultural record of the first decade of the 21st century.
The ranting, again, was a bit of a slave to the medium, but gratifying nonetheless. Here’s a sample.
My Current Rant Rocket: The Friday Nite Sermon
The Friday Nite Sermon was something I created on Facebook to be a vessel to hold all my various rants. These rants are the purest expression of me as a ranting writer. They are not bound by the constraints of journalism or songwriting or editorial etiquette. They are just plain nasty.
What follows is one of the first and one of the most recent of these rants.
Please don’t take offense. This is really good therapy for me, and also, I have been told, for some of the people who read them. Maybe you’ll even feel that way yourself.
SEEKING TRUTH ON THE INTERNET? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.
I spend a lot of time chucking at some of the Facebook posts that appear on my wall, and not because they are funny or cute or ironic. But mostly because they are bullshit.
The Internet, and especially social media sites are great places to be if you’re in the business of bullshitting people. First of all, you have a wide audience, the majority of whom are idiots of one kind or another (not any of you, of course). But more importantly, you have anonymity.
Very few people really know who you are, and the rest will mostly believe what you tell them. I’m not sure exactly why people post this bullshit stuff all over the place. I’m not sure there’s really any benefit to them in doing it.
A lot of the bullshit that we see on the Internet starts with clever PR guys starting rumours with bloggers. Bloggers, like newspaper reporters before them, deal with information as a commodity. But bloggers, unlike newspaper reporters, do a terrible job of checking their facts.
This has a lot to do with the publish or perish aspect of their jobs. They make crap money and can only make ends meet if they pump out a ton of stuff every day. The first casualty in this mad rush is…the truth.
Smart marketers can and do take advantage of this. Because they know that almost every thought they plant in the head of some unsuspecting blogger will be jumped on and pushed out into the ether, where more often than not, it works its way up the food chain to so called ‘legitimate’ sources. And then people like us read it and get all excited and pass the good news around to our friends and so on and so on.
If we were to fall for this shit on a regular basis we would believe, among many other things, that they have finally found a cure for cancer, that North American cars are not the crap cans they used to be, that 12 NFL teams want to sign Brett Farve, that Miley Cyrus is just a poor misguided waif and that coffee is actually good for you.
So the moral of this edition of the Friday Nite Sermon is that the truth, as we all know, can be hard to swallow, but on the Internet, it can also be very hard to find. Amen.
THE APPS THAT WILL DESTROY OUR SECURITY
I saw Charlie Rose interviewing the head of Counter-Terrorism for the NYPD. He was pretty amazing. These people are really the front line of our defense against crime and terrorist activity, and frankly they don’t get half the respect they deserve.
One thing he pointed out that scared the shit out of me was that there are now unbreakable encryption apps available for the Apple’s Mobile System 8. And that texting with these apps has now become the communication vehicle of choice for terrorists, gangs and pretty much any other kinds of criminal element.
In my opinion, the people who create this software and sell it should be taken out back of the barn and shot 3 times in the head and their companies seized. Or at the very least they should ordered to build their apps with a back door so that law enforcement can decrypt these messages with a proper court order.
Privacy issues are one thing. Handcuffing law enforcement in this way is going to quickly become one of the biggest threats to public safety and proof positive that we are too smart for our own good. Amen.
So this has been post about ranting. My rants are not really designed to offend people, but more to snap them out of whatever coma their online life may be inducing on them.
I encourage everybody to do this on a regal basis. Writing this sort of stuff is a genuine Gestalt, and is actually good for reducing stress which can lead to a lot of bad places.
So get your rant on…and make sure you let me know when you do. Because the next best thing to writing them is reading them.
Jim Murray has been a writer pretty much all his life. For most of his adult life, including now, people actually pay him to do it. They also pay him to art direct a lot of the stuff he writes. He is also a mentor, blog post editor, reviewer and a photographer.
Jim writes to help people and companies with their communications in all media and he blogs primarily to help people get better at communicating. In today’s world, that’s almost a public service.
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