A COUPLE of weeks ago I engaged someone on Twitter following a hashtag whose popularity erupted beyond the necessary bounds, and at one point the person took exception to my stating that their objections were “a rant”.

This is not the first time I have heard that complaint.

On one of the forums I belong to privately, I had a person complain when I referred to a particular post by somebody else on that forum as “a rant”.

People appear to misunderstand the meaning and intent of that term and I believe it is only fair that we find an agreement to how the term is used.

My suggestion is that “rant” be used the way it was meant to – as an English word meaning, “speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way: e.g. she was still ranting on about the unfairness of it all.”

When an objection to the use of the word was raised on the forum I belong to privately, I explained to my friends that the term was quite normal and that I, myself, run a weekly blog on which I rant on various matters and issues I feel strongly about – that’s www.skaheru.wordpress.com.

More on Don’t Blink

It is not a derogatory term whatsoever, and basically refers to how some of us communicate the issues we are passionate about. I rant, as I told my friends on that forum.

I rant because it is an action within my power and I have the right to do so. I rant because ranting allows me to release some of my frustration at the things that go wrong around me, or irritate me. I rant because I hope that my ranting may lead in some little way to change happening in situations around me that I am not happy about.

Ranting may not make the world go round, but it stops our minds from going round the bend especially in these frustrating societies we live in.

It allows us to release a large amount of emotional pressure that would otherwise cause our heads to explode – which is different from activism.

The vast majority of social media users simply rant, yet very many of them believe that the power of Facebook and Twitter has made them activists – which is wrong. Ranting is only the beginning of activism, or simply feeds activism.

Activism is generally defined as, “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” (Apple Mac Dictionary), and involves more than just posting the occasional blog or tweeting under one defined hashtag.

An activist should campaign using more than one medium; social media posts, for instance, should be backed up by heavy data preferably published (video, print or online) in a traditional, well-respected format or medium.

An activist will picket and goad and will persistently pursue the cause they are after until somebody takes it up and, at the very least, promises change. An activist would maintain hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls for so long that the world actually moves in the direction of where they last saw Boko Haram moving. An activist would make it impossible for al-shabaab to run a twitter handle for even a minute. An activist would have hackers break into the computers of suspected perpetrators of corruption, and splash their banking details all over the timelines of by-tweeps (as opposed to by-standers) so frequently that the outrage against corruption would become a tangible, dangerous thing.

All that we do is rant – on separate platforms and with different levels of impact, but all ranting thanks to the spread of technology.

Where just fifteen years ago we huddled round radios over the weekend to listen to brave people shout their lungs out on Bimeeza debates and all public opinion on everything was limited to only those people with access to FM radio and television studios, now anyone with a phone and internet connectivity can voice an opinion on anything.

It’s so widespread that we have people ranting directly into the face of the President using his Twitter handle @KagutaMuseveni, and from there it’s downhill all the way through heads of public and private utilities, telecommunications companies, banks, media houses.

All to some effect, but very little of it.

Don’t stop ranting, by any means, because the ranting feeds activism, which in turn should feeds the actors themselves.

But don’t get confused and expect that your ranting is as effective as activism in bringing about change; it is just the beginning of the process and can trickle away into nothing even easier than it could create activism.