Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

08 December, 2015

FACEBOOK RANTS ARE BAD FOR THE HEALTH OF EVERYONE

"...IT WAS MY RANT, I didn't need your intelligence & logic, facts & figures. If I do, I'll ask you."

We talk a lot about freedoms and rights these days. Well, here is the newest one -- the perceived freedom, yes the very right, to "rant" on Facebook...a rant meaning to speak or write in an angry or emotionally charged manner; rave. 2. To express at length a complaint or negative opinion.

Sadly, all-to-often even well-intended and perfectly rational social media network posts can be labeled a "rant' by anyone wishing to belittle or demean the contributor for some biased or mean-spirited reason.

It’s not hard to mistake the Internet rant, often characterized by its run-on sentences, uncouth and inflammatory remarks, capital letters and liberal use of the exclamation point. Often rooted in a heightened level of expressed emotion, uncensored anger or frustration, the rant is accessible to anyone armed with a computer keyboard and an Internet connection.

It is my recent observation that dispensers of bonafide "rants" on Facebook are adopting a strange pride in authorship that absolutely rejects or resents anything other than a "like" from friends subjected to the emotional outburst. Heaven help anyone countering with balanced dialogue or suggestions on how to rationalize the irksome tale of woe. It's as if people want to bath in the misery of their negative rantings and resultantly they drag others along with them.

Unsubstantiated rants generally end up reflecting poorly on the ranter and upsetting readers, in retrospect accomplishing very little of a positive nature.

When a friend writes a Facebook rant it is as if they are vomiting, quite deliberately, all over your day, states novelist and Huffington Post contributor Lucy Robinson. It starts like this:

"I'm sorry but . . .

And it ends like this:

..Right. Rant over!!!"

"The 'Rant over' is, in many ways, more offensive even than the rant itself," Robinson contends. "'Rant over' says I know! I know I just vomited all over you without asking your permission, but I've finished now and have gone back to being a really great person! You'll still like me, won't you? WON'T YOU?"

"No, actually, I won't," she adds. "Not for a while. You've just used me and several hundred other people as unpaid therapists...And now -- don't you dare deny it -- you're logging back on every five minutes to see if anyone's clicked LIKE or, better still, written something like, "Go girl! Totally agree!"


Believe it or not, the italicized quotation at the top of this post was part of a reactionary response to me today after I had attempted to rationalize a troublesome social issue (would you believe use of the Merry Christmas salutation) for a Facebook friend. As laughable and convoluted as it was, she wanted no part of my "intelligence and logic, facts and figures." It was her rant and she didn't want to hear anything from me, thank you very much! She did not welcome reasoned comment that may detract from the impact(?) of her tangent.  In the process of getting back at me for having the audacity to give her the benefit of my thoughts, she has lost me as a friend.

When I established a Facebook friendship with this middle-aged woman several years ago, we had a mutual interest in nostalgia and I reflected with fondness my memories of the home in which she now lives.  We exchanged frequent pleasantries and Facebook likes.  I offered support when she shared some timeline anxiety in her personal life, just as any friend would do.  Suddenly, the worm began to turn and her personality changed as she began to express herself in the form of posts which she herself referred to as "rants".  Much to my disappointment, the mistake I made was to continue talking to her as if she was a friend in real life.  Her mistake was having a closed mind, wanting to keep her emotional outburst to herself and not respecting my thoughts and the information I was providing in good faith and for her benefit.

On another occasion an old school friend (again a member of the opposite sex) accused me of being "impertinent" in imposing myself on her timeline rant about Middle East injustices.  Her emotional rebuttal was very personal and nothing short of vicious. Any wonder I am disenchanted with Facebook?

Like Lucy Robinson, I understand that life can be unbearably hard at times. For you, and me, and the millions of people living in varying states of famine and war. And I think the Internet is a wonderful tool for expressing that hardship; for giving a voice to those once silenced. Justified protest, expressed maturely and in the right media, is one of the great triumphs of the digital age. So too is the promotion of humane causes and the sharing of inspirational thoughts and good news stories that may otherwise get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

But there is very definitely an unhealthy component to Internet ranting.  Research has shown that the emotional relief from getting a rant off your chest is only temporary. People experience a downward shift in mood after reading rants, and after writing rants they become more angry, not less.

Also from research: ranting is linked to fighting, both physically and verbally. By surveying visitors of rant sites, researchers found that those who rant online are more likely to experience consequences of their anger in the real world, averaging nearly one physical fight per month and more than two verbal fights per month.

So come on folks, resist the urge to rant just for the sake of venting.  If you have something that is bothering you, try to find answers for yourself first before commenting about it on Facebook.  Ask for input from others if you wish and welcome feedback.  Take time to research your issue and to consider the viability of other opinions.  Do some personal reasoning and soul-searching and then share your findings with friends in the form of a Facebook essay...Maybe we can all learn something from your experience...In so doing you will come away from the exercise with a feeling of lasting gratification that no rant could ever provide. 

The world feels very different when you start taking responsibility for your experience of it, rather than being a victim of it. That's the way I see it, anyway!  But maybe I'm confusing the issue with facts and logic.

After nearly 78 years I am coming to the conclusion that there is no accounting for some people...Why try?

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