“The Rant” Part 1: Ranting and Reading

By Ashley Bean Thornton

(First in a series of posts inspired by a Rant found on Facebook.  Click here to see the original rant.)

Here’s the first part of a rant I saw recently on Facebook….

“I need to rant for just a moment. I’m getting old and I’ve worked hard all my life. I have made my reputation, the good and the bad, I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I have worked hard to get where I am in life. I have juggled my job, my family, and made many sacrifices up front to secure a life for my family. It wasn’t always easy and still isn’t, but I did it all while maintaining my integrity and my principles. I made mistakes and tried to learn from them. I have friends of every walk of life and if you’re in my circle, it should be understood that I don’t have to remind you of what I’d be willing to do for you.


    • I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. People who have sacrificed nothing and feel entitled to receive everything.
    • I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it themselves.….”

This particular rant goes on much longer. It filled up nearly a whole page when I copied and pasted it into my word processor. Here’s a link if you want to read the whole thing: The Original Rant.

This rant aggravates me.  Aside from being a little long and a little “humble-braggy,” The first paragraph is fine.  It’s the part after the “however” that gets to me.

Here are some of the things that grate on me about it:

1. “I’m tired of being told I have to…”   – Nobody likes being “told they have to” do anything, right?  Even little kids are quick to respond to “being told I have to” with a feisty “You’re not the boss of me!”  We don’t like it because we don’t like taking orders; we like to have some say in what we “have to” do.

And in fact, we do have some say in the problems being discussed in this rant – we can vote, we can participate, we can advocate.  We don’t always get our way when we vote, because other people are voting too and they may disagree with us, but that is the price of living in a democracy with other people. Our system can be frustrating for sure…but we do have some say in it. It sounds like whining to me to use wording that implies we don’t have any agency in the way we are being governed.

2. “…. by force if necessary…”  – Through our representative system we agree to laws.  Those laws have no meaning unless we enforce them.  At this point in time, we have agreed to tax ourselves and to use some of that money to support people with low incomes.  When people break the laws – for example by not paying their taxes — the government is called upon to enforce them.  That’s what we pay them to do. When we don’t like it, the appropriate course of action is to try to change the law.  This “by force if necessary” phrase strikes me as needlessly inflammatory and self-victimizing.  It is an attempt to characterize a law as an example of jack-booted tyranny just because we don’t agree with it. “By force if necessary” is just the way laws work.

3. “Sacrifice nothing” and “receive everything…” – “Nothing,” “everything,” “always,” and “never” are usually exaggerations; needlessly and incorrectly provocative.

4. “… feel entitled to receive everything.” – We can’t possibly know what “people” – people we have most likely never met — feel.  It just leads to arguments when we make blanket statements about what other people feel or think when we can’t possibly know what they feel or think.

What if instead of the rant, the post said something like this?

“I work hard for my money.  I do not want my taxes going to support people who I do not think are willing to work for their own money.”

I still may not see eye to eye with the writer, but I find this alternate wording much less irritating.  The main message is the same, but it comes across as much more straightforward and responsible.  It tells what the reader wants/doesn’t want instead of trying to pin the blame for all the ills in the world on some mysterious “they” who are “telling me what I have to do.”  It states the writer’s concern clearly and honestly but does not pile on the insults.   The word “think” in the phrase, “who I do not think are willing to work for their own money,” signals that the writer is still thinking and might be at least a little bit open to new information.

To me, this alternate version gives us a much better place to start a productive conversation.

Here is something that I have recently realized that has made a big difference in how I respond to political statements on-line:  I can choose to “hear” this alternate version instead of fixating on all the things I do not like about the original version.

We live in a world where quite a bit of our political discussion takes place through writing on social media platforms.  Our written words matter.

For writers, it’s important to use language that leaves the door open for conversation instead of language that needlessly makes real communication more unlikely.  It helps if we avoid exaggeration, and unsubstantiated accusations, and whining.

But the writers don’t bear all the responsibility for productive political exchange. For readers, it’s also important to remember that most people are not carefully picking out every word they type into Facebook.  A lot of things, like the rant I am using for an example, are just copied and pasted, probably without much thought other than general agreement. I might wish people wouldn’t share the things they do, but it’s not very helpful for me to complain about what I wish other people would do.

What we readers can do is dig for the real, legitimate concern the writer is trying to express. I can make an effort to “hear” what they are saying, even though I do not like the way they are saying it. In this example, it’s reasonable to have trouble with the idea that your hard-earned money is going to someone who you do not believe would be willing to work. Good Grief!  If I am honest, I have trouble with that myself.  It is not helpful for me to dismiss this reasonable concern just because I have issues with the way it is being expressed.

We have legitimate challenges we need to work on as a nation.  We have real, substantive disagreements about how to best overcome, or at least whittle down, those challenges.  It is almost 100% guaranteed that we are going to have to work with people who disagree with us to make any real progress.  We need to do a better job of communicating with each other about these tough issues. It’s not just up to our elected officials to do all the communicating.  We have to communicate with each other and then let them know what we expect.  I think it would help for us to hold ourselves accountable when it comes to how we write, and at the same time, cut each other a little slack when it comes to how we read.



  1. Rick on April 14, 2023 at 8:23 am

    Thanks, too often I do not try to listen to “copy and paste” first person rants. I taught my students to use their own voice and get irritated at folks passing some writer’s 6 copies back work off as their own.
    You are right though… they have something they want heard and as the reader, my responsibility is to find it. Thanks

  2. […] (Second in a series of posts inspired by a rant that caught my eye on Facebook.  Click here to see the original rant.  This post may not make much sense without reading the first post:  Click here to see “The Rant” Part 1). […]

  3. Charles Antonini on April 16, 2023 at 6:05 pm

    The Original rant did what it was intended to do, spark conversation, rally those with agreements and those with issues to the topics brought forward. I always believe where there is smoke there is fire, or remnants or beginnings of one. There is truth to all fiction or “pseudo-fiction”; imagery, embellishments are all done to emphasize the point. The critically main point here is that this person is TIRED and fed up. The next step from that point could be to turn around, maybe stop or the critical one is to move forward. Now where is that boat with the TEA!!?

  4. […] to see the original rant.  This post may not make much sense without reading the first post.  Click here to see “The Rant” Part 1.  The second post in the series explains a little bit more about my motivations for writing.  […]

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