On Ranting

Recently I read a a story on The Listserve that was in its entirety, a professed “Rant”. The author went through a great deal of detail dissecting the problem and then offered some ideas about potential solutions.

To me, the latter portion makes for a well played rant.

At times, I rant. It is hard not to when you have opinions, and I believe we should all at least be informed enough about something to have an opinion before we start talking.

I don’t mind a well done rant; in fact, I quite like them. They are passion on public display. It’s heart on sleeve kind of stuff. It’s eye-opening, because sometimes, I’m not aware of how painful an issue might be. Sometimes, I’m not aware of an issue at all. If you want to make the world a better place, you have to be able to identify issues. You need to have many perspectives on an issue. You need to have an opinion.

I do love strongly opinionated people.

I try hard not to rant about things without having at least a few courses of action, or to provide at least something to be learned. I may use a story to get people to see the issue and hopefully things we might do in order to attack that issue intelligently.

A poor rant is the diatribe that complains and then simply stops.

Rants that stop short of action or ideas kill my enthusiasm for the author’s point of view and they do so immediately.

It’s like when you’re trying to learn something difficult and someone keeps nitpicking your progress but doesn’t provide any tips or insight on how to progress; you start to get the impression that person really doesn’t know what they are talking about, or at least that they aren’t worth listening to in the first place.

It really doesn’t matter if a solution is half-baked, not thought out entirely, or otherwise. Give people something to walk away with, otherwise it seems to me, all you did was identify a problem. In some ways, ranting seems a bit selfish, like it was a simple indulgence in complaining. As a reader you hear the complaint and then the speaker just walks away. Now what?

Problems are everywhere. I bet that you can generate a list of problems indefinitely if you wanted to, and I could as well. Those who seek out problems, get more problems. Those who seek out solutions just may find what they are looking for.

This is not to say that problems are to be avoided. It’s just that if I present someone with a problem and then walk away what did I leave the other person with exactly? Should it leave them wondering, why did this person drop this baggage on me? What am I supposed to do with this new found issue? Is it really my issue? Why is it my issue anyway? Where do I go from here?

Think of how a stand-up works: I might present an issue, but I can’t just drop it there. You are going to be all over me for a course of action - any course of action. I just can’t bring baggage to the stand up and let it sit there, someone is going to ask, who’s problem is this? Where do we go from here? What do we know, and what do we need to know in order to move forward?

When a writer choses to just rant, they are picking inaction over action. I would almost always choose the opposite - even if that action was simply to table the discussion and do more research.