By Allison Perry | Telluride
This week’s rant is somewhat existential.
To rant or not to rant: that is the question.
Susan Lilly asks, “So is all of this bitching making us more or less cranky? More cranky seeing all these people going at each other, or less cranky ‘cuz we get stuff off our chests?”
After noticing quite a few comments on Sweet Rants about how good we have it here in paradise and about how we should be giving thanks rather than complaining, I thought this might be a good time to address whether venting about trivial and non-trivial issues in a relatively anonymous and public setting really is a good thing or not.
Do we, as Telluridians, really deserve to rant?
And, perhaps more importantly, does it really make anyone feel better about, well, anything?
If there are any two fundamental things I can say I believe in, it is the following:
All things are relative.
And, emotional catharsis, in whatever form it takes, is both necessary and utterly essential in order to maintain any semblance of mental health.
Before I started writing about ranting, rather than doing the ranting myself, I viewed Sweet Rants as a perfect outlet for mini-catharsisizing and I still enjoy reading about what’s on the minds of people in town.
Whether thought-provoking, infuriating, hilarious or plain freaking idiotic, hearing what other people think about everything is always entertaining to me.
When I see a rant go up about something that also irks me, it makes me feel just a teeny, tiny bit less crazy. For example, my poor boyfriend has been hearing my complaints about things like dog poop and bad driving for years. He is barely able to respond to me when I go apeshit neurotic (which, as a New Yorker, I do a lot) about the amount of shit laying around town, or when, yet again, I tell him a harrowing story of multiple near death experiences brought on by terrible drivers on my way back from Montrose or driving from Mountain Village to town.
Sweet Rants, however, is the perfect forum for me to sound off about this crap because most of the people on there not only have no idea who I am, but also don’t have to listen to me bitch about certain things 24/7. I can vent about what I need to get off my chest, which makes me feel better, and each “like” or agreeable comment makes me feel a sense of camaraderie with the people who I share my environment with, despite the fact I have never met them.
So I would have to say then, in response to Lilly’s specific question, that I feel less cranky for the most part, at least when I see something I agree with or relate to, or I am able to get something off my chest to a receptive audience.
That said, there are definitely things that go on on Sweet Rants that, while expected, can be, um, cranky-making. I choose to laugh at these things, and people, rather than allow myself to invest enough in it to get angry. And when I can’t help but get angered by a comment, I figure at least it is worth it to discover about myself certain viewpoints I simply cannot tolerate.
Anything remotely resembling racism makes me rather cranky. As does anything that smacks of elitism and upper-class entitlement. And those things should make me angry. But you know what? The nice thing is, if I so choose, I can respond to them with however much venom I choose, and perhaps someone might learn something.
For the most part, however, most comments and people that could make some of us cranky should just be viewed with humor. And maybe pity. There are some people who simply cannot take anything with a grain of salt, and who take themselves far, far too seriously. I have received some unbelievably and flat-out rude, stupid and mean comments in response to an obviously tongue-in-cheek column I write, in an obviously exaggerated and sarcastic fashion.
This stems, not only from the fact that people think they are the poo, but also from the fact that many of us don’t seem to understand what you implicitly agree to when you throw your various complaints and inner monologues up on a public forum, to be viewed by a contingent of people who do not know you, and therefore do not care that much about hurting your feelings.
This type of thing on Sweet Rants should never rise to the level of making anyone cranky, including those people who get angry when someone disagrees with their complaints. I find these people particularly entertaining because, if you don’t want to hear other people’s opinions of your thoughts, why ON EARTH would you be smearing them all over Facebook in a manner that basically invites other people to comment on them?
And why on earth would you expect that everyone in this town would agree with you? We can’t agree on anything in this town. Ever.
If you’re going to invite people into your head, some of them are going to stomp around all over your awesome thoughts, and some of them are not going to agree with you.
While I cannot condone insulting comments or personal attacks, whenever I write something on or about Sweet Rants I am fully aware I am opening myself up to some sort of attack, and because I don’t take myself seriously at all, I am able to usually respond to these attacks with one word. Which is, “word.”
Sweet Rants is also not supposed to be a forum used for instigating personal attacks on other people that could cost them their reputation and their job. I’ve seen a couple of comments that could result in a defamation lawsuit, and it’s pretty ridiculous to see people attack each other under the guise of acting in the best interest of the public, and then get angry and seek vindication when their comments are removed from the site.
I particularly love comments on Sweet Rants discouraging people from complaining about their lives because, hey, there are people dying in the Middle East, starving orphans in Africa and cancer. How DARE you complain or vent about your problems when there is CANCER?!?!
I’m over the forced-upon-us optimistic guilt trip for living our lives and needing to get things off our chests.
Am I thankful every day that I have my health, live in a beautiful place and get to do what I am passionate about among great people on a daily basis? Of course I am. Did I choose to basically give up any chance I had at achieving financial stability or buying a nice house with a big yard and a garage in order to live here? Yep.
Does this mean I’m not allowed to get pissed and want to throw an adult tantrum when I go to the grocery store and find the only goddamn chicken they have is f*ing $20 for TWO CHICKEN BREASTS and the overpriced produce is basically rotten?
Am I wrong in feeling frustrated at the fact that “affordable housing” around here means living in a tiny rathole with wall to wall carpeting the color of baby vomit, boasting such paper thin walls that you can hear your neighbors fart on the other side of those walls, and each time your downstairs neighbors turns on the television it sounds like a herd of elephants is running through the building?
Everyone has problems. EVERY. ONE. And everything in life is relative. I’m not saying I agree with everyone’s problems, but I certainly agree they have a right to scream them over the internet in a space created precisely for that purpose.
I also agree with Harold Wondsel’s comment, “Most of our important issues that we discuss today began as a grumpy, bitch-fest between a few people outside the Post Office or the at the Free Box. We were just as contentious 30 years ago as we are today, TSR&B just brings the discussion into the internet age” although I can’t speak to how this town was 30 years ago.
Important discussions arise from many of the more benign comments I’ve seen on Sweet Rants, particularly about religion, politics and even motherhood. Discourse is discourse, no matter if it is spurred by an innocuous complaint, or a manifesto on human rights, and I love watching how things unfold when someone makes an open-ended rant about something going on in town and people chime in with their opinions.
Basically, the moral of the story, is that I firmly believe having a little corner of the social media stratosphere in which to vent, complain, and bitch and moan does serve an important purpose on many different levels, from giving people a way to engage in healthy emotional catharsis, to providing a glimpse of what issues in town really make people tick, to stimulating discussions about important topics and even possible solutions to big problems the community faces every day.
It is also damn entertaining, and far more scintillating and hilarious than most of the crap on television these days.
If reading other people’s rants makes you cranky, you might be someone who takes themselves too seriously, and if not, perhaps you should simply remove yourself from the group.
I say rant on people! Unburden yourself to the Facebook universe, don’t hold back, and keep ranting until you have exorcised your demons and you’re ready to go out in the sunshine, smile, and enjoy all the things we have going for us in our tiny corner of the universe.