21 January 2014

Complaining About What You Just Read

A rant about ranting about reads that rankle. 

Perfectly justifiable or completely asinine? Vote now on Twangle!

Many people – sorry, many readers – write in to complain about the quality of the writing on here and in the world in general; a smaller number write to note the idiocy of spending significant time and energy trying to convince others that something you don't like "sucks", by shouting.  And so forth.

As with most issues, I come down on both sides on this one.  Clearly, if you know you don't like a particular author but then click on their thing just to bash them, you are a complete moron (or at best, you are misdirecting your energies).  What injury does the complainant claim to have suffered?

Let's say you start to read something and it sucks.  Let it go.  Why is it important to express your dislike?  Not talking here about expressing disagreement but about griping about quality, often including personal attacks on the author, for example impugning the chastity of his/her mother or questioning the positioning of the head vis a vis the ass.  If your thinking is that you are warning others away from this crap, then doing it in the Comments won't help because who reads those first, what you need is a separate blog or page warning people never to read the crap you just read, because it sucks; but then of course you'd just be calling attention to it, that is if you can get anyone to pay attention to your blog in the first place, which you probably can't, since most everyone is spending their energies howling into the wind instead of reading for enlightenment and no one really gives two pairs of pajamas what you (or I for that matter) have to say about that or anything else.

But while I'm sympathetic with my own argument on this, I must also beg to differ.

Problem is, sometimes you don't know if something is gonna bother you until after you've read it.  In some cases the reader may go in with expectations of enjoyment, then slowly come to feel toyed with or betrayed; or realize that he/she knows a thing or two about the subject of which the author appears to be unaware; it could be a heavy-handed or too cute style (cough cough); whatever, it is offensive to the bs detector known as common sense and it will not stand.

People seem to find it difficult to stop in the middle of reading anything, so that even when something starts to rankle, as the expected enjoyment turns to annoyment and finally outrage, rather than stop reading and walk away they insist on reading through to the end, getting ever-madder as they go, formulating counterarguments and considering the penning of a response intended to expose the author as a charlatan hawking mollywoggle and calling it macaroons.

Or there's the basic, This is more popular than it should be, I don’t like it, and everyone else should realize that they are wrong and I am right, this is not as good people think, or it's getting too much credit for being good because it hits a particular nerve and/or tells us pretty much exactly what we want to hear.  I disagree with this and it is popular therefore it is stupid and anyone who agrees with it must be relentlessly hammered on in any way I can think of until they admit that I'm the one who knows what's what, and even then I'll insult them one last time just to see if they wanna keep it going.

Perhaps as often, the kvetching is a sign you really did like it, you may be jealous of the author's success in doing something you had conceived of but never produced, so that even if they executed it in a way you would have never come up with and did a half-decent enough job, it rankles that you never did it and you should get credit for the fact that the way you were gonna do it woulda been much better than what they came out with … Anyway they (you) should check out my (her) blog, it's wayyy better than this crap y'all're reading over here (there).

Ranting about what you don't like?  Must be a cry for attention.  Like me, for example:  it bothers me when people rant about what they don't like, but just ranting about that could be worse.  Expressing a negative opinion is obviously allowable but not just tearing down for the sake of tearing down, no need for the hateful or personal.  So I'm ranting about how other people rant about what they don't like, not about what they don't like or how much I hate their ranting because that would be kinda pointless, y'know? 

There is that four hundred and eighty words yet?  Can I go home already?  My mind aches from all the blogging. Or at least break for a sandwich and a glass of buttermilk, maybe a fruit cup?  No?  Hell then forget it, I've had enough of these sweatshop conditions.  I am so outta here.

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