A retiree with a keyboard, I’ve learned, is a noxious pairing.
You’ll find this breed glued to computers obsessively ranting about politics and world problems via social media posts and email blasts. As with all things trending, the zealous group deserves an appellation:
Retirees who rant – ranterees.
I first became aware of ranterees around the year 2000. The emails (all sent by relatives) seemed innocuous at first: “Must see!!!!!” missives and chain letters promising miracles and even an “unpleasant surprise” if I did not FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: Biblical advice within 6 MINUTES.
Our God, I could only surmise, is indeed vengeful.
The messages grew dark about the time Barack Obama was elected president. HAVE YOU HEARD OF FREEDOM OF SPEACH?????? one relative-ranteree email-stormed back in 32 pt. type after I politely asked to be removed from his lists.
After several more tries to disentangle myself from the misspelled madness, I gave up and began to collect the commentary. I have a sizable sampling, and I’ve made a study.
Both liberals and conservatives are ranterees, but my rigorously biased study shows that the gang skews right – although the most famous example was a Democrat: James T. Hodgkinson, who tragically shot a GOP congressman in June.
I don’t claim such rants guarantee eventual violence. In fact, the opposite may be true: venting may help some ranterees to leave the rifle at home.
Conservative ranterees have loads of free time to bang their drums about the coming “white genocide,” mock the LGBT community, and demand that all Muslims be slaughtered (really). The discourse has turned nearly Roman: all Facebook truly needs is a thumbs down reaction button.
Whatever happened to retirees who volunteer and putter around in the garden?
President Donald Trump, of course, is the nation’s Ranteree-in-Chief (I count him as retired from running his real estate empire; his current job, a mere ill-chosen hobby). Like all ranterees, the president favors the satisfied boom that thunderous pronouncements deliver.
Isn’t Trump then, just another old guy banging a keyboard?
Ranterees’ all-caps missives and misspellings mark the group with a juvenile taint. Like all kids, ranterees want to feel powerful, or more accurately, they want their power back. The world has soured. The idyllic past seems irretrievable. Their moral declarations will restore balance – as if mere all-caps screaming will yield some brisk parental-borne solution.
Given the president’s bumptious character, it’s no surprise that as a ranteree, he also craves to be heard and understood, to pummel home the alternative fact that he won the popular vote, to yet rail against Hillary Clinton – eleven months after she lost the election.
Unlike Trump with his nearly 40 million Twitter followers, most ranterees are ignored, or they have a tight, dedicated circle of buddy ranterees, and in that perhaps they are exactly like the president who speaks unerringly to his base. Ranterees’ jeer-crammed social media posts are often both unliked and not liked. And as with the president’s tweets, there is some deeper, forlorn sense about ranterees’ proclamations: the doleful knowledge that they are crusading against a swiftly changing, interconnected world.
While writing this, I reviewed my ranteree collection (ranteree is both a subject and object noun, and can also be used as a verb: “George was supposed to spend the day with the grandkids, but I found him the den, rantereeing for hours”). I grew disheartened after reviewing the derisive cesspool that is one relative-ranteree’s Facebook timeline.
Pandora’s box of ranterees has been unsealed. Some claim that ranterees represent the last and final keyboard clutch at a weary world order. But I suspect that new ranterees age into the group every minute with their free afternoons and itchy fingers.
Try to distract them with the grandkids – or pressing world problems.
R. Daniel Foster is an independent journalist who regularly writes and photographs for the Los Angeles Times.
Follow R. Daniel Foster on Twitter | Instagram: @rdanielfoster