When a friend writes a Facebook rant it is as if they are vomiting, quite deliberately, all over your day. It starts like this:
I'm sorry but . . .
And it ends like this:
..Right. Rant over!!!
The 'Rant over' is, in many ways, more offensive even than the rant itself. (I won't even go there with the punctuation.) 'Rant over' says I know! I know I just vomited all over you without asking your permission, but I've finished now and have gone back to being a really great person! You'll still like me, won't you? WON'T YOU?
No, actually, I won't. Not for a while. You've just used me and four hundred other people as unpaid therapists; as sick buckets. And now - don't you dare deny it - you're logging back on every five minutes to see if anyone's clicked LIKE or, better still, written something like, Go girl! Totally agree!
The lowest form of rant is that one where they write something like, 'Some people are really annoying, they pretend their your mate but then you find out their just a back stabber.' (sic) This kind of behaviour I find it more amusing than annoying. What are you expecting to achieve here? Will you send a quick text that 'friend' to make sure they see the rant? And if they post a counter-rant, what will you do then? Go round to their house with a bag over your face - so they won't know it's you - and punch them in the face?
No, it's the people whinging about luxury problems that make me want to throw my computer out of the window. The ones whose rants start with things like, 'I can't believe Virgin have put their prices up again, it's disgusting,' or, 'FOUR BUSES HAVE JUST GONE PAST WITHOUT STOPPING, WTF???' or 'I just HATE Britain and its poxy weather, it's soooo depressing. Last year they said that it would be -'
Sorry, I just died there. I lost the will to live reading about how you hate your nursery or gym or local pub. But I see you're finished, because you've declared the rant over!!!
Do you feel better now? Do you feel like things have changed and justice has been done? No, of course you don't, because it hasn't. Nothing has changed, you've just added your little puddle of vomit to the great cyber sick back that the internet has become.
Last year I spent several months on my back with a chronic illness. During the process of recovery I came to realise what a gigantic amount of time we (myself included) spend locked in victim mentality; rolling around very determinedly in the disappointments and injustices of our lives like dogs in manure. As I got better I found myself finally willing to try a bit of gratitude for what I have. A healthy body, for starters. Friends, family and a partner. A roof over my head.
I've taken to blogging daily about things that have made me smile in the last 24 hours and it's been wonderful to engage with the good stuff rather than the crap stuff. The world feels very different when you start taking responsibility for your experience of it, rather than being a victim of it.
I understand that life can be unbearably hard at times. For you, and me, and the millions of people living in varying states of famine and war. And I think the internet is a wonderful tool for expressing that hardship; for giving a voice to those once silenced. Justified protest, expressed maturely and in the right media, is one of the great triumphs of the digital age.
But please. If your Jamie Oliver recipe has taken two hours rather than the advertised 15 then write to the Huffington Post. Or call your MP. If your husband is a tosser, tell him. Not me. I can't help! I'm just your friend, trying to start my day nicely with a boiled egg and John Humphrys.
I'm going to spend the next week writing anti-rants on my Facebook page. Things like, 'I really love my partner!' or 'Wow! I had three nutritious meals today, and I didn't have to go out into the street and beg for them!' And you know what? I bet someone'll de-friend me.