Are brainy people allowed to rant?

My last post on Lovemarks stirred up some strong responses. Most seemed to agree strongly, so it’s welcome when someone comes along to disagree, as Stuart Henshall does in the comments.

Stuart is – in my book – a good blogger who puts a lot of work into very well considered posts. I have a lot of respect for his views. I also want to challenge what I feel is one implication of what he says. Stuart argues: “Here is a collection of brainpower being wasted with ranting and personal attacks,” and continues “My suggestion is to be challenging in a more positive way.”

Yes, I’ve been thinking I want to add a post or two setting out an alternative view and I mean to do so. And what follows is provoked by Stuart’s comment but I’m not suggesting that he is taking an entirely opposite general position.

I think some of the best blog entries – my own and other people’s – are the rants. This is not an accident, nor is it a mark of some fatal moral flaw. I believe the world of organisations gets stymied if we subscribe to a narrow view of politeness and being positive. There is more to life – much more – than the purely rational, yet much business discourse avoids completely many powerful “negative” emotions.

I really distrust the idea that some emotions are “negative” and others “positive”.

What makes blogs fun – at least for me – is when I get a sense of a real flesh and blood human being behind them.

I love Improv and its principle of “Yes, And” – but this doesn’t mean that we simply go around being agreeable. That would be deeply dull. Sometimes the best way to show up to a relationship is to say No. Sometimes we won’t even see the way forward until we Stop doing what isn’t working. One or two of my strongest friendships are with people I strongly disliked and disagreed with when I first met them.

Also, consider this. Until a week ago, I just felt queasy about Lovemarks. I wrote a couple of mixed cautious posts elsewhere about my views. Then I read Chris Lawer’s original post which definitely qualified as a rant on the subject. (Chris has toned it down a little since, pity). This catalysed my views, energised me, and made me realise that I don’t have mixed views on Lovemarks, I have a deep gut dislike of it. Then I post a rant, and several other people come out in support. It isn’t reason alone that has brought us together, it is passion – in this particular case, in the form of anger.

A few years ago, I sat in an encounter group whose facilitator said “I like anger, it can be very energising”. At the time, as an anger-phobic, I felt rather alarmed by this view. Not any more.

And no, I am not saying all expressions of anger are good. But I am saying that Anger gets a bad rap a lot of the time. Used well it can be powerful force for good. (Consider Jesus and the Money Changers; What is that got Bob Geldof to create Band Aid?)

Debate welcome.

5 thoughts on “Are brainy people allowed to rant?

  1. Rob Hobson

    Great post, Johnnie. And I’m not just saying that out of positivity 😉

    It’s stretching the point slightly, but aren’t all posts and all comments “rants”? You could almost say that all rants are valid, but some rants are more valid than others …


    I quite agree. Your comments brought to my mind the conversations I used to hear at my first advertising agency: several people, usually men in the late youth and early middle-age, sitting around trying to brainstorm the mindset and buttons-to-push of a low-income housewife in her 40s. The point is that these passionless debates rarely led to anything other sterile, banal nonsense.

  2. Stuart Henshall

    Johnnie, What’s cool is you create a “safe” environment where a little needling is possible. From rant to rave. I’ve done a few rants on my own blog too. Yes and I’d love to see your rants on an alternative view. And yes I’ll contribute. Oh and while we are about it- it can be fun.

    Strong alternate views strenthen decision-making. Breakpoints create something new. Advertising is at its break pt. I think the disruption is “all of us”.

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