One of the occasional hobbies of older gentlemen such as myself is the questionably pleasurable practice of ranting. From its local particulars—“Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!”—to its generalized condemnations—“They’re crooks, all of them!”—ranting might seem to be a tolerable way of passing time in impolite company. High-level ranting requires adroit word-finding skills and physical posturing worthy of any actor. At first blush, ranting seems a relatively harmless use of time and energy.
It feels good, too. When I fume about bothersome, dangerous or unjust matters, I can congratulate myself (mistakenly) that I have done something (good) about the problems in society. My words—so I assume—will be part of the solution, if only that I have exposed the injustice of whatever I’m raging about.
There are two major problems with these behaviors—which could also include haranguing, hectoring, blustering and accusing.
The first: What happens after I vent my spleen? Turns out that “airing my grievances angrily” doesn’t calm me down or purge the bile from my mind. Instead, my anger-spewing brain improves its skills (?) at being angry. New brain pathways are laid down or reinforced, so I get really good at seething. Angry brains don’t function as well as non-angry ones—so my ranting can turn into raving—the province of folks perhaps toying with insanity.
The second problem: Most of us don’t pay attention to ranters, whatever their issues. Unless I’m also prone to repeating others’ angry opinions, I eventually ignore those who fume at the drop of a hat. “Just another guy who’s mad,” I think. (And I wouldn’t want to be ignored, even by other ranters!)
My take-away from these personal reminders, then: Find a better older adult hobby, Bob.
Nothing good comes of ranting (and raving)….
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