Seated comfortably in my bunker of pint glasses, paella, and the aroma of hops, I give little thought to my compatriots beyond the task at hand: winning the Tuesday night quiz. In the long tradition of combatants during battle, I’m concerned about the enemy, and shooting them down, not about the possibility of friendly fire—which, by the way, isn’t.
As many years ago—when I was taken completely unawares by a paintball, point blank in the back by a member of my own squad—I am caught by surprise when, during a momentary lull in the general hostilities, a casual shot comes across the table from within the huddle of the Allies.
I instinctively hunker down behind the metaphorical sandbags to examine the wound … or, at least, examine if there is a wound. I sip my beer, one eyebrow arched wryly, and try to determine if I should be leaping across the table to step on the perpetrator’s neck and to hell with the Allies. He blinks at me benignly. Perhaps I overreact. I have a history of doing so after all. In fact, my defensiveness is so well developed, I could have personally held back the Siege of Leningrad.
But then comes the crack of another shot. Taking me unawares from the side, as I stare across the table. The missile finds its mark.
The whole sequence, in real time, runs thus:
“So, Gethin, I’m friends with you on Facebook.”
“You’re quite the negative poster.”
“My advice,” from the flank, “when he’s angry at the world, is to ignore him. I do.”
This is the funny—as in slightly fucking pathetic—thing about being naturally a defensive little bastard. For any normal, well-adjusted shaven ape, this exchange would be met with nothing more than amusement and perhaps a quick-witted rejoinder. Not me. Now, I’d be lying if I described myself as quick-witted. Witted, yes, but not quick. Thus I write, where I can crawl my agonising way to something vaguely amusing, and otherwise try to keep my mouth shut—something I often fail to achieve … but not this time.
Being quite the talent at telling someone to go fuck themselves, coupled with a generally unsuccessful air of reticence, while satisfying, is not particularly conducive to the ongoing structural integrity of bridges. So I managed to shut the fuck up, for a change. But there’s nowhere like a dugout, when you’re trying to be quiet and not get sniped, to get one’s think on. Which I did. For a couple of days in fact. Maybe even longer.
The whole exchange, or rather my reaction to it I realised, comes down to not wanting to come across as an angry, negative fuck, but also not wanting to keep my mouth shut and let things go that fucking well ought to be mentioned, discussed, debated, even just shouted about. And there’s a lot of those things about. The world’s in an increasingly fucked up state, and it’s fundamentally the result of wilfully ignorant, greedy and inconsiderate people…
Look, the point was not to get into having a rant here, but rather, to examine the legitimacy, indeed the necessity of rants in general.
It’s easy to look at Farcebook posts and Twatter feeds and think jeez, what an angry fucker. And perhaps you wouldn’t be wrong. But there’s a noticeable gulf between being pissed off at rampant ignorance, inequality, and bigotry, at political, economic and media structures that are rife with underhanded dealing and outright lies, and being a generally angry, negative human being.
Cynicism and acrimony are not the same thing.
Having said that, there’s a point to be made that my online existence is possibly bereft of niceties, like kittens, and rainbows, and kittens on fucking rainbows, and statements about how blessed is this life and all that…
On the other hand, there’s enormous numbers of people on this planet whose lives are not blessed, and there’s plenty of people’s whose live are, and who don’t give a flying fuck… about how easy they have it, or how easy everyone else doesn’t have it. And that needs to be fucking spoken about.
And, yes, as with the kittens, there’s a point to be made about making greater use of my time and talents(?), and being a little more focused, and a lot more thoughtful, and infinitely more creative with my mouthing off.
You might also point out that I could be out in the world making a difference, to which I can only say:
1) I am Australian, and therefore genetically predisposed to apathy. And,
2) I am a writer, it’s how I interact with the world. (And if my wife is to be believed—and she usually is—It’s better this way). Also, I’m not a bloody journo, so you’re not going to see well referenced, analytical indictments of this guy, or that woman, or this issue, or that fucking problem.
You’ll get a bunch of lines—hopefully amusing, and maybe thought-provoking—and enough respect for your intelligence to assume you’ll read between them.
“Don’t just call me pessimist, try and read between the lines. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t welcome any change.”
— Rev. M. James Keenan.