Thoughts on “Rants”

I used to be a ranter.

I thought that people were very confused, when it came to political issues, and I would frequently vent about the “wrongness” of the “other side.”  The solution is so obvious–why doesn’t everybody see it?

I had my daughter, and I fell in love with the concept of attachment parenting.  I couldn’t believe that people would raise their children any other way.  What were they thinking?  What parent in their right mind, would sleep train, feed their baby formula, and push their kid in a stroller, rather than wearing them?  Parents who pushed their kids, who gave them flash cards and only bought educational toys, were stealing their children’s childhood.  Parents who let their kids run free were not disciplining them enough.  Parents who yelled at their kids were damaging them for life.  And what about kids in day care?  Oh, the horrors!  I joined multiple message boards, where I ranted away.

Attachment parenting led to crunchy living.  I couldn’t believe all the waste people created, when they used paper towels.  And don’t get me started on fast food!  What kind of a parent would feed their child that garbage?  And television!  Only idiots spend their days staring at that box.  We were working toward getting off the grid, because we were somehow more virtuous.

Then we embraced minimalism.  I could spend all day ranting about consumer culture.  All the stuff!  In fact, just a year ago, when I quit Facebook, most of my e-mail interactions consisted of rants.  “How are you going to handle the upcoming high feast to materialism?” was the question I asked nearly everyone I wrote.  We called it “xmas,” and we had all kinds of rants and complaints about it.  Nothing but materialism.

I think ranting is a normal step, for anyone who is figuring out their identity.  Before we can understand how similar all of our stories are, we need to clarify our values and choose the lifestyle that we want.  For a long time, I viewed our family as “counter-cultural” as opposed to the “mainstream” people we knew.  We were defining ourselves, and we were seeking validation from like-minded people.  We were happy with the decisions we were making, so of course we thought everyone else would be.

Everyone else, made different decisions, and many of those decisions worked for them.  So, of course, they thought the “mainstream” way would work better for us as well.  Thus, the criticism, which led to more rants.  We all think our way is “right,” because we are happy with it.  And we want other people to be happy.  So we criticize, and so we rant.

Ranting is a stage, and it’s important that it just remains a stage.  Eventually, we need to understand that living the way we do, does not make us better than anyone else.  And that it isn’t the way for everyone to live.  There are people who need a home base, who are happiest when they are firmly entrenched in the community, in the home.  It is the combination of homebodies and free spirits that makes the world a wonderful place.  We need both.  We need people who support the status quo, and we need people who live counter to mainstream culture.

I found myself most prone to ranting, when I encountered someone who was living in a way that was making them unhappy.  I was angry, that they didn’t see that there was another way, a way that would work better for them.  I would see people stressed out over money, when they were clearly living outside of their means.  I would see people “stuck” in jobs they hated, because they did not realize that they had a choice.  I would see people living in fear, due to the images they saw on television.  My anger was out of concern for the other people, but anger was not what they needed. 

And that’s why ranting needs to evolve into understanding.  We need to let go of the anger, the need to seek validation, and the need to be “right.”  We need to understand where other people are coming from, and accept that we all do things differently.  We need to understand that we are all on a journey, we are all learning, and we are all changing.  What we have to say, may not be what the other person is ready to hear, at this time.  Our path may not be the path that is right for everyone else.  We need to stop ranting and venting, because ranting is actually judgement.  And judgement builds walls.

And yes, creating walls and seeing ourselves as “separate” may make us feel smug.  It may make us feel important, but it does nothing to better the world.  We need to be confident enough in ourselves, to see where other people are coming from.  We need to learn the lessons we were meant to learn from each other, so that we may grow and change as well.

We can learn something from everyone we encounter, but we need to stop ranting and judging in order to see the lesson.

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20 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Rants”

  1. Oh Bethany, you have hit the nail on the head. I will admit to being a ranter. I am trying to “live and let live”. I think sometimes my rants give me the illusion that I have control over something i ultimately do not (like say, the state of the environment.) I can also remember questioning myself “Well, if I’m a minimalist, shouldn’t I want to be mobile?” but, in actuality, I am a homebody who still lives in the same town I grew up in and doesn’t want to leave. I have felt like a “loser” for a while because of that, but I am trying to remind myself there is no reason to feel “less than” because I have a different preference.
    Oh, and funny thing, my son asked me if he could have note cards for Christmas, because he wanted to make flashcards. When I came home with some for him, he was so excited he wrote every word he knew on them…go figure.

    • It takes awhile. We all want to fit in, and find acceptance. I think overcoming the “need” to seek approval and validation, is really a lifelong journey.

  2. Hi Bethany…you’ve got some really good thoughts here on something that is very easy to slip into. In many ways I think it becomes habitual…we don’t even realize we are doing it unless something wakes us up and makes us realize what we’re doing. I used to talk back at the TV news (back many years ago when I actually watched TV news) and I did it until my dear sweet husband said, “you’re starting to sound just like you’re dad!” The minute he said that I could see and hear my dad and much as I loved him, I didn’t want to be that person. Right then we stopped watching the TV news and haven’t for so many years I can’t remember. I also think we need to “watch” our consciousness and stay away for things that bring up anger and pain in us. If there is some way we can make a difference…then fine…if not, best to let it go. Thanks for another thought provoking post Bethany….~Kathy

  3. Wow Bethany! I couldn’t have said it better. I think that’s why I have a hard time writing. ‘m not right and others aren’t wrong. We are each snowflakes; no 2 alike. We are meant to be different and there will always be contrast in the world. It’s part of the creative process of life. I see what I don’t want therefore I can get a better bead on what I do want. But you get to chose for yourself too. (as in the collective You). I skim the news but don’t live in it. It’s like nostalgia, an ok place to visit but not the place to set up residence. I too, was critical and judgmental. What a waste of energy. You wrote this soooo well.

  4. I am guilty as well about ranting. What will really get me riled up is watching a person drop a couple of hundred dollars a week, or more on new clothes at the mall then complain that they are worried about the amount of the 401K and whether or not they will be okay, or that they are having trouble paying the bills and have to work these hours. I see the bags of clothes from the mall and want to rant and scream that I am tired of hearing their money woes when they spend that kind of money. But for some reason they feel they need those things and I have to bite my tongue and wait for them to find their own way.

    As for parenting, I think I put it best when I stopped my grandmother while she was criticizing how I was raising my boys to remind her she had her chance with her children to do what in her heart she thought was right and now it was my turn.

        • I remember last winter, I got a new wardrobe (because the clothes I had were falling apart, and getting too small for me–oops!) and got my hair cut…and looking good, having a more commanding presence, really helped a lot. But that’s different from using shopping on a regular basis, to cope with stress. In that case, it’s no better than overeating, etc.

          • I remember when you got your hair cut last winter, I did see a change in you as a result. We do need a bit of pampering from time to time and need to do a bit of shopping for clothes we can be comfortable in, but yes it is very different from retail therapy.

  5. It’s difficult not to rant sometimes. Every now and then I will rant, but don’t realize it until afterwards. While I was ranting, I simply thought I was sharing my opinion. There can be a fine line between sharing a belief vs getting up on a soapbox and ranting.

  6. I love this line: ranting is a normal step, for anyone who is figuring out their identity.
    I sometimes think of it as thinking out loud. We lay out our ideas writ large and then look at them, possibly needing to bring them down to scale.

    You might enjoy the post I just put up about learning when to be quiet. The opposite bookend.

  7. What is the line between being a ranter and being opinionated? I definitely hold strong opinions and like to share them, and other times I do like a good rant.

    I had never thought of ranting as being judgemental, but agree that it can be.

    I guess I like to share my opinion about choices people can make because I want all of their decisions to be conscious ones.

    Thanks for getting me thinking Bethany 🙂

    • It is a fine line, isn’t it?

      I have noticed that, over time, my opinions aren’t as strong as they used to be. But there certainly ARE things I feel strongly about–mainly things I’ve learned from my struggles and experiences. And I could easily get ranty about them, as well. 😉

      I would say the difference might be that when just sharing ideas, we don’t get angry if the other person is following a different path. That we understand that everybody is in a different place, and needs to explore and learn on their own.

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