Why Are We So Angry?

376As anyone who knows me is well aware, I get confused very easily.  So the other afternoon when I was using the drive-up ATM near my favorite grocery store, I somehow managed to make a wrong turn, thereby exiting the parking lot through an entrance lane.  Before I could drive off, a woman in a large SUV pulled up in front of me and blocked my exit. She stayed there for a couple of minutes, glaring and saying angry words I couldn’t hear (and probably didn’t want to hear) before shaking her fist at me and then driving on past the entrance. Part of me was tempted to follow her and explain that it was an accident, but I knew that wasn’t a good idea.  What I didn’t get was why she didn’t simply let me make the turn out of the parking lot, which would have immediately cleared the way for her to enter.  I didn’t understand why it was so important to her to let me know just how wrong I was and how angry she was.  Whatever happened to days of just shaking our head and muttering “idiot” when we saw another driver doing something that was stupid, but not dangerous?

And it’s not as if the anger is limited to our driving time.  Recently, a post popped up on my Facebook feed in which a mother was complaining about how a boy on her daughter’s school bus was relentlessly teasing her daughter about her new glasses, which had her daughter coming home in tears.  Like any mother, I understood how painful it is to see your child’s feelings hurt, but I was still shocked at some of the responses to the post.  While most of them, sensibly, advised talking to the bus driver or school principal, several of them took it much further, calling the boy all sorts of nasty names and suggesting various types of revenge.  One person even advised that the girl “punch the boy in the face and kick him hard in the crotch.”  Seriously?  Adults advising one child to physically attack another child?

It seems that almost everywhere I look these days, I see frustration, anger and even outright aggression, and it’s more than a little depressing.  Road rage, parents screaming at umpires during Little League games, news accounts of violent protests and riots, etc. have almost become the norm.  The internet is full of “keyboard warriors” who happily attack anyone who dares to disagree with them, or who does something that they don’t approve of.  “Name and shame” has become a battle cry for those who feel the need to teach others a lesson, mostly for behaving in a way that they feel is not acceptable.  Sadly, there seems to be no shame in publicly attacking other people, and the irony of reacting to hatred with even more hatred is lost on far too many of us.

I don’t pretent to know why so many people are so angry.  And I don’t pretend that I don’t have angry moments myself.  But I do know that anger is rarely the answer to any problem, large or small.  And I know that while we may not be able to choose when we become angry, we most certainly can choose whether or not we act on that anger.  We can choose to express our anger, without any thought or consideration to the harm that it does, or we can choose to let our anger be the trigger that causes us to address an injustice in the kind of rational manner that might actually bring about change for the better.  Controlling our tempers is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of maturity and the willingness to work through our problems toward a productive result.

Sometimes, when we are upset, it really is better just to keep it to ourselves.  Because the world doesn’t need our anger, as it has more than enough anger already.  What the world needs is our patience, our understanding, our courage, and most important of all, our kindness.

38 thoughts on “Why Are We So Angry?

  1. I noticed that when people behave like that (anger), it is more often shows more about them rather your action. It is their action of how they deal with that, the frustration and anger that they express. You just made a mistake and we all allowed to make those sometimes. I just try not to take the anger too personally. And as a Canadian 🙂 always add I am sorry about that not to escalate the situation.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, I agree. So often the anger has much more to do with the person expressing it than the actual situation. And “sorrys” are very helpful, which is why my first instinct was to follow the woman and apologize, letting her know it was an accident. But then I realized that simply by following her, the situation could escalate and it was best to just let it go. Still, an apology is almost always a good thing!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It does seem like there’s an anger epidemic going on these days. Too many of us have an “I’m right, you’re an idiot” mentality. You said it well, Ann: Getting angry is okay; acting on that anger is not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never believed we can choose our emotions, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to choose whether or not to act on those emotions. Personally, when I get angry, I try to take time to cool down before I deal with the person or situation. That helps so much, and makes sure I don’t make the situation worse by adding my anger to it.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Ah Ann….this is what my post was about the other day really…and why I am depressed these days. I personally believe all the hate, crime, terrorism (yes), war, environmental decay stems from exactly what you are talking about here: People simply don’t care anymore. They don’t care as much about one another, they have less compassion or kindness, less empathy, and this leads to most of the issues in todays world. I dropped FB because I couldn’t stand reading the stuff you mentioned. I’m not saying everyone is like this, but I see it more and more. Why? I don’t know: fear, poverty, lack of education, myopic behaviors and greater ethnic gaps….. So sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So very true Ann. Unfortunately with social media rampant we see cases of anger and impatience more and more. As we do on the roads. The amount of road rage I see is scary. But what you did was a simple mistake, we’ve all done it. People just need to back off, get a new perspective and keep their cool, in all areas of life. Getting uncontrollably angry to the point of violence does no favors for anyone. Maybe they need to go get a punching bag!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know…it seems that people get angry over the little things that don’t really make a difference, and have almost off-the-chart rage over the big things, which only makes them worse. I wish I knew the answer, but I don’t. (Although I think your idea of a punching bag is a pretty good one!) Meanwhile, all I can do is learn from what I see around me and make sure I’m not the one who’s going around taking her anger out on all and sundry. Because I really, really don’t want to be like that!

      Liked by 2 people

      • My son and I were recently talking about Red Nose Day – and how it’s nice, but you wonder how much actually goes to the kids. Susan G Komen CEO makes millions of dollars. Charity has become big business. My son said if EVERY individual would just do small things in their daily lives to help people, the world could be a wonderful place. So proud of that young man for the way he thinks! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve evolved from “to to err is human,” to quantify personhood contingent on our ability to “multitask.” I’m doing seven things simultaneously and you confuse something as simple as access and egress. Shame on you. Why such the intense anger is a failure of both parties to recognize a “Context Switch.”

    And “multitask” and “Context Switch,” being both computational terms, now enlisted to explain human behavior and interaction, haven’t been around long enough to be graced with an aphorism.

    And most Context Switching, horror be, happens in a general direction thread, like this discussion, and then someone 180’s.

    Like me.

    But step lively, locksteps. Those golden years you’re beginning to fret about…they’re gonna school ya. And you, in turn, being worthy of and receptive of the education, will pass some learning down, instead of patting each other on the back …post after, post, after post.

    And you, Wrong Way Coleman, lead the way.

    Regards,
    Paperclip (AKA) Doug

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think part of the problem is that there are very few adults around but a lot of adolescents in grown up bodies. People are overly attached to their egos and need to be right. I think people are also seriously stressed out due to the “busy” American lifestyle. It is sad. Sorry you had to deal with that. It does leave an icky residue behind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a good point, Kim! We do have far too many adolescents in adult bodies, and the behavior is the biggest tip off. The stress doesn’t help, either. I know I get angry so much more quickly when I rushed and stressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Our world has become much more angry and I suspect there are lots of reasons for this. We need to do whatever (and wherever, whenever) we can to promote kindness, tolerance and patience. Maybe all those self-absorbed, holier-than-thou, perfectly full-of-themselves individuals will learn something new and valuable. But, probably not… *sigh* 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think it’s understandable to feel a little exasperated when someone does something stupid but otherwise harmless. I don’t see any justification at all for outright anger, though. As for the keyboard warriors you mentioned, it reminded me of a newspaper story I read a while back. It was about a woman who visited Arlington cemetery with her friend. She saw a sign saying “Silence and respect” and so for a joke, she was photographed pretending to shout and holding up her middle finger. Her friend then posted the photograph onto his Facebook page.

    Now this is not the kind of thing I’d have been likely to do. I don’t think it was a very tasteful joke. On the other hand, I think the online response she got was ridiculous. A Facebook page appeared demanding that she be fired from her job. It got 30,000 likes. Another 3,000 people signed a petition demanding the same. She even got death threats. The woman became depressed and barely ventured out her house for a year.

    There may have been more to the story, but based on what I read, I felt very sorry for the woman. In my view, her behavior was a bit stupid, but I’ve done stupid things before and so have we all. To drive her into depression for one ill-judged photograph is way, way, way too much outrage.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! Yes, writing is a great way to work out our frustrations, and I do that too. Even though I try to keep the tone of my posts mostly positive, just the process of working out what I am feeling and why (which I have to do to write the posts) really helps. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: So why ARE we so angry? | Middle Aged Rage

  10. We have become an angry society, haven’t we. It seems to be reflected in all that surrounds us. I don’t know how wee got here and I’m not sure how we escape from the grips of this bitterness. I like to make excuses for people’s behavior and believe they’re just having a bad day or something has happened In their lives that is causing them to take it out on the first person they see but how can so many people be having these terrible days? It’s disheartening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We really have! I know we all have our bad days, when we don’t react to others with the patience that we should, but it does seem to me as if the anger/bitterness/lashing out is getting a bit out of control. I don’t know if it’s because of the economic or political climate, or the fact that we are basically living in the middle of a technological revolution that makes the industrial revolution look like a piece of cake, but people do seem to be more frustrated and angry than they used to be. It is hard, but all I can think of to do is to try harder to be patient, understanding and kind to others. Not easy, but a goal worth striving for, I think. Thanks, George!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Anger can be a good thing, of course–it can fuel change that really needs to happen, both in ourselves (by far the easiest place to effect change) and in the world around us. But shooting off your mouth rarely results in anything good, and even then it’s usually pure serendipity.

    I don’t know why some people feel so free to drop the reins on their temper, or why it seems to be balanced by such expectations of servility in our society for others who have no other option. I have told customer service people on the other end of the phone repeatedly that they do not need to apologize to me. They’ve done nothing wrong. I just have a problem and they’re there to help. But it’s like we have to populate the world with endless Mr. Collins clones (for those of you who are Pride and Prejudice fans).

    I think it all comes from the same root–the desire to control others. But the fruit of that tree is bitter and unworthy of our time and energy. All we can do is try to behave differently.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you are correct in believing that a lot of anger comes from the desire to control others, and possibly the world around us. We get upset because things aren’t going the way we think they should, and people aren’t acting the way we want them to. And for reasons I don’t understand, we feel far too free to vent our anger on other people.
      I like the Jane Austen reference, too! And I bet the customer service people like you, since you are reasonable enough to understand that they are not the ones causing your problem, they are actually the ones trying to help solve it. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve come to this post the day after the Pulse massacre in Florida, Ann. I wouldn’t normally introduce myself with a video comment, but with your permission, include one here as I think it’s completely relevant to your excellent piece. It is, I’m afraid, a repugnantly bigoted and violently worded response to the tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

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