I don’t know if people are angrier today than they were a few decades ago or if they are just more visible. As are most things in life it is probably not a binary choice – it’s a bit of both.
I’m particularity perplexed by the vitriolic anger of my demographic – middle aged white men. By the time a member of the majority race and gender reaches mid life I would like to think they are either enjoying the rewards of a career in its peak years or have adopted a philosophy that allows them to put life’s foibles in perspective. I’m not talking about the righteous anger that comes from injustice. Maybe that’s one of the issues. Is injustice a relative concept open to interpretation or are there acts that are so abdominal they are universally recognized as unjust?
It could be that some never achieve the success in life they expected and never developed a philosophy that allows them to put those perceived shortcomings in perspective. Lacking an appropriate coping philosophy the result of such a combination could be the excessive anger that is so evident to me. Add in a chronic illness, some hair loss, lack of energy, the death of friends and all the things that can happen after forty that let us know we are no longer the young generation and the anger may be further fueled by such realities.
All of the psychological underpinnings of mid life anger are compounded by our media environment. There has never been a time in human existence where we have been exposed to so much information. Five hundred cable channels, 300 satellite radio channels, streaming news to our handheld devices, Facebook and Twitter. There is not a moment in our lives when information is not at our fingertips. With so many choices, the competition for our attention in this environment is intense and what gets our attention more than anything else is negativity, shock and trivialities.
If we elect to listen to the hate and fear mongering by the Limbaugh’s of the world then it is inevitable that we become angry. Angry at things that are factually incorrect and do not affect us but nonetheless make up our reality. The false reality is then validated by the “celebraticians”. Celebrity politicians that are neither celebrities nor politicians may modulate Rush’s messages but nevertheless lend those messages credibility by not vigorously condemning them. We can see the fruits of those efforts in the Republican primary results. Sarah and the Tea Party have been effective in displacing main stream Republicans with what can only be considered fringe candidates. The unifying thread in all of these candidates is anger. They want to go to congress to fight Obama. They want to fight for me. They want to fight. What ever happened to working with the opposition and working for me? I don’t want my representative to fight. I want them to work.
Unfortunately, anger and work are the oil and water of productivity.
I am not optimistic enough to believe that my angry peers will have an epiphany that will allow them to see the world as I do. I suspect that they will continue to see their fate in life as evidence of some great universal injustice and will continue to feel angst and anger toward the world. They can not be helped.
It will take a near seismic shift in human nature but my hope is that logical, critically thinking people will some day be heard at the same volume as the Palins, Becks, Linbaughs, Boehners and Breitbarts.