Thursday, October 13, 2011

Random Rant

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. I can be obnoxious. I mean really obnoxious. And I don't mean the kind of fun obnoxious; I mean the kind of obnoxious that makes you want to hit said obnoxious person. Mostly, these days, I have that under control. It's taken a long time, though.

For instance, when I "discovered" music when I was in high school, I dominated music everywhere I went. Except, you know, that crap they play in elevators and department stores, and the only reason I didn't was because I didn't know how to go about changing it. I carried a tape deck with me all the time, rarely using headphones. I sang along with the radio when I was on the phone pretty much throughout high school. I took control of radios and tape decks in my friends' cars without regard to what anyone else might want to hear. I'd even make people sit in their cars long enough to finish whatever song was on, even if it was on a tape.

No one ever (and has never) said anything to me about my behavior. In fact, I kind of became the music guy, and people just let me do that. They knew I'd have music to listen to when, generally, they'd forgotten to bring anything. It was years before I realized that there was anything wrong with the way I behaved. It makes me wish someone had said something to me about it back then, especially about the singing on the phone. It's more than a little bit embarrassing at this point in my life.

So... not obnoxious because I was trying to be or trying to be funny, just obnoxious because I was obnoxious. The other really obnoxious behavior I had back then (in high school) was correcting people when they were wrong. Especially with grammar. And I don't mean when I was in a conversation, because that's somewhat acceptable, but I would pop into conversations completely independent of myself and correct people. Ob. Nox. Ious.
But, again, just trying to be helpful. And I didn't realize, at the time, that people didn't really appreciate that sort of thing. See, I was kind of under the impression that people would be grateful for being corrected. I mean, I don't like being wrong, so, if I say something that's wrong, and you point it out to me, I tend to be more like, "oh, I didn't know that. Thanks!" Other people... not so much. Not a way to win friends and influence people.

Fortunately, I did wise up (mostly) by the time I was out of high school.

I did say mostly. Because I'm about to unleash a little bit of obnoxious.

I hate (HATE) the way people misuse the word "random." HATE IT! Did I mention that I hate it?

There are these constant posts titled things like "5 Random things on a Friday" or those blog awards that say to list "7 Random Facts" about yourself. Oh! My! Gosh! These things are NOT random! NOT NOT NOT!

Maybe I wouldn't be so sensitive to this if I didn't live with a teenager who fancies himself to be random. And he's totally not. I can see it in his face when he's trying to be random. We'll be talking about something, and he will pause, thinking, and, then, pop out with something about a completely different topic. But, you see, he stopped to think about it. Weighed it. Made a judgement about what would seem the most random thing he could say and, then and only then, said it. That whole process takes all the random out of it. I lost track of the number of conversations we had with him over a couple of years explaining all this to him. He's finally stopped doing that. Just in time for his younger brother to begin fancying it. >sigh<

I really don't understand the worship of "random" currently running through our culture. It's as if something is made inherently better by being random. The problem being that none of these things are, actually, random. But why do we even want them to be?

I have quit following more than a few blogs due to the overuse of these "5 Random Things" posts. Things that were clearly related to each other, immediately cancelling any randomness. Or introduced by "here are some thoughts I was having." Again, NOT random! Or "here's what I did last night." NOT RANDOM!!! If it's not going to be random, don't call it random!

I think, though, my favorite are the awards that say to list some "random" things about yourself. How many people do that? My guess: none. Because, before anyone lists anything on those things, they decide what they want people to know and list only those things. Nothing listed is random. In fact, other than Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, not a lot in life is random. Even things that may seem upon casual inspection to be random. But that gets a little metaphysical, and I don't want to go there. The thing is, if you really want to list random things about yourself, you'd have to make out a list of all the things about yourself (or a gosh darn lot of them) and then choose randomly (and blindly) from the list and print whatever came up. The good and the bad. Not really sure we have a lot of people willing to do that.

Maybe the problem is that people don't know what random means? So... here I am, breaking in on conversations all over the blogosphere, correcting everyone, releasing the obnoxious inside. Here is what random means:

random: proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern

I just want to point out the word "reason" in the above definition. Seriously, how much do you do without reason being involved in some way? Well, okay, maybe that is valid for teenagers, especially the ones in middle school, but still... It certainly doesn't apply to anyone sitting down to write a blog post. Reason immediately begins its work to help you formulate your thoughts and get them down on paper, so to speak. So, for the LOVE OF GOD, stop using the word "random" just to make it sound like you didn't put any thought into your post! This isn't college where the freshman girls are showing up to class completely made up while trying to look like they just woke up that way. No! This is junior year where everyone (everyone!) rolls out of bed 5 minutes before class and drags themselves across campus in sweats or whatever they could conveniently get into and not get kicked out of class for indecent exposure. Stop TRYING to be random! The fact that you're TRYING negates the whole thing!

Okay, rant over. I guess. Man, it feels good to get that off of my chest. I'll put the obnoxious back in the box, now.

And, now, for something completely random...
Oh, wait... I mean "and, now, it's time for something completely different." But that's a topic for another conversation.

If you're still here after all of that, I've been interviewed over at Cally Jackson Writes. Yes, she has put me in her hot seat. You should hop over there and check it out!

Before I go, I do want to remind everyone about the Pay It Forward Blogfest. There's still time to get signed up for it if you click the linky I left. I'll be posting my three picks on Friday... once I figure out what they are. It's the whole "under the radar" part that makes this difficult for me, so I'll be hopping around to the blogs I follow over the next couple of days trying to determine which ones I think fit the description the best.


  1. Wow... that post was random.

    *runs for the hills like he was an Iron Maiden song*

  2. *giggles*

    Though I will have you know, my 'tag' that reads 'random' links to posts where:
    1) I asked readers for topics they'd like to see
    2) I put all those topics in an Excel file and
    3) I use a random number generator to pick which one.

    I know... it isn't REPRESENTATIVE of all things I could talk about, but from my list, they WERE randomly chosen.

    Love my fellow math purists, though. For the most part, I use arbitrary, where others might use random...

  3. Well said!

    I am obnoxious like you too. I can't resist the urge to correct people, specifically the type of people that make wild, outrageous statements based on something they "heard" or "read". I just want to scream at them "How about you try using some critical thinking once in your life?"

    I was always viewed as the "know it all" type back.. no, even today. The thing is, like you, being right is important to me. (Let's not go into why.) And so I MAKE SURE I am right if I am making a statement of fact. I WILL NOT claim something is true if I have not ascertained the truth of it with reliable, documented source myself. I even double check things that I know that I know. And I always try to be very precise about how I say things. So yeah, that's me, the obnoxious know it all.

    Anyway, you know what word really drives me insane when people use it inappropriately? "Literally", generally followed by some kind of figure of speech. ARGH!

  4. Most people seem to use random in the place of non-sequitur which is a word that is unfamiliar to many. I see your point though and the word does get misused. Another that gets misused is "ironic". I think Alanis Morrisette is behind that one and it just stuck.

  5. Blaze: Bah! Good to see you comment, though. Good luck with the birthing!

    Hart: See, arbitrary is good. I like arbitrary. And good that you do pick randomly! I like that :)

    Sarah M: A sizeable group of my friends during high school called me Walking Dictionary. But, yeah, I know what you mean. Don't talk unless you know what you're talking about.

    "Literally" is another of those that drive me crazy, but I don't see it so much in blogs. Thank goodness.

    Michael: I love "non-sequitur;" what a great word. My brother used to be the king of the non-sequitur by jumping back into conversations from days or even weeks prior without any warning.

    "Ironic" is one of my wife's peeve words, and she can't stand that song because of the misuse.

  6. Baha, this post made my day. I don't meet all that many people who are bothered by poor grammar/pronunciation/word choice as much as I am, so it's more than a little refreshing. :D Hopefully, there will be less use of "random" and more of "non-sequitur," because seriously, that word is phenomenal. :)

  7. Random is real quirky thing when it comes to code making (and breaking). Seems truly random events are quite rare, pick a random number generator from anywhere off the internet and you are most assuredly, not getting random numbers. But instead a complex pattern that can be broken down in a predictable way. I don't know, I just find that interesting.

    So, should you ever feel like ranting about randomness, I bet a good mathematician will cheer you on.

    Me, I have my pet peeves with word usage too. The word Theory is a big one for me, although it's been misused so much for so long that it's been given a secondary definition. That's the thing, when a word with a precise, specific definition starts getting used by the public at large - that meaning will probably get perverted into something non specific, and generally frustrating to people who understand how the word is used.

    I mean, imagine trying to make a point with someone, and they can't get it because the word you are using doesn't mean what they think it means. Inconceivable!

  8. I think I misuse random a lot. I blame Natalie Portman in "Garden State" for that. In the movie she encourages Zach Braff to make some spontaneous "random" gesture and I think the word stuck in my brain. Though I think a lot of people use it as a way to say spontaneous, like whatever pops into your head at the moment. Though since a lot of people don't think before they speak might actually be random.

    And has anyone ever thought about why it's called "Random House"?

  9. Pretentious much?? Lol, this was hilarious. What else would I expect from you though ;)

    I have an official start to the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest! Oct 24th- go check it out if you're still interested:

  10. Love this post and several comments in this stream. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Classic!

    Now I'm panicking about whether I've used random in this totally unacceptable way in any of my recent blog posts... better go check. If I have, I'll be so embarrassed that my head will literally explode. ;-)

  11. Hi Andrew. I'm here from the Pay It Forward blogfest and I just wanted to say thanks so much for signing up!

  12. J: Now, I'm wondering if it's reading coupled with a strong sense of grammar that = writer? Hmmm...

    Rusty: My wife loved this post. She's in data analysis, so she's all about the numbers, and the over use of the word random might actually bother her more than me, although it would be close.

    I HATE the misuse of the word theory. Pisses me off, actually. The correct term (most of the time) is hypothesis. Like in the Hypothesis of Evolution. (Just to make a very controversial example.)

    Rogue: Well, I wouldn't put money on, say, middle schoolers and randomness, but, even there, I think they try at it more often than not. I've really only ever known one person I'd call really random.

    Juliana: Um... pretentious... me? Never! Glad you liked it :)
    I am still interested, and I'll be checking it out.

    Cally: Oh... um... well, make sure you have someone handy to clean up the mess. I hate when I explode and no one cleans it up and I have to do it later.
    I think you're probably safe, though. At least, I don't remember any incorrect uses from your blog.

    Matthew: Hey, my pleasure!

  13. Ruh roh. Now I'm trying to figure out if I've used the word "random." Probably with an award.

    Oooo, shiny.

    Sitting down to write, though? No random. Especially not a blog post. I have yet to see someone blog or write in a way that was entirely random. Well, now, E.E. Cummings and Dr. Seuss, maybe. I'd have to analyze it now that you posted this rant.


    See? That wasn't even random. It had a pattern and a purpose and all that good jazz.

    One of my word pet peeves would be the use of "ironic." Yet, I probably don't even use it right most of the time, so I've basically stopped using it unless I'm positive it meets the criteria. There are so many times I want to say, "NO! That's not ironic! It has nothing to do with irony! ARGH!"

  14. I swear to God I lierally laughed out loud at this post and scared poor Perry. He let out a little yelp and ran to his bed. I love when people get all ranty! It shows they they are human and real and not afraid to be their obnoxious selves! As you know I have a very nearly 20 year old daughter who thinks everything is random. If I say something she is all like "Mom you are so random" its annoying! Thanks for the laugh:)

  15. Shannon: Squirrel! I love squirrel! We say that all the time. Mostly in connection with our boys who can't seem to focus on anything. Well, the younger can focus on Legos, but that's about it.

    Jennifer: Oh, poor doggy! I hope you didn't scare him too badly. But I'm glad to make you laugh :)