“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”― Mark Twain
Turn on any source of technology-computer, television, radio, or iPhone-and it won’t be too long before you come across some story of how someone is outraged, angry, agitated, aggressive, or otherwise pissed off about some real or imagined injustice that the world has done to them or others. It’s virtually impossible to go through a day exposed to any of these sources of information and not have this happen. You are going to see some aspect of man’s inhumanity to man that just sets you off. To quote Vince Lombardi, “What in the hell is going on out there?”
Is the world getting worse? Are people less kind and considerate than they were in the “old days,” whenever they were, or, is there something else going on here? Why is it that so many of us are willing to buy into the rage of others? Why do so many of us have a difficult time letting go of anger that is inspired by something that we were exposed to through the media and not in real time? More importantly, what impact does this have on our physical and emotional health?
I call this phenomenon Craze Rage. Like everything that is a craze, everyone’s doing it because it’s the latest thing. Craze Rage occurs when millions of people get outraged by something that has gone viral through television or the Internet. It can be something huge and significant, but it’s often something that has been captured on somebody’s iPhone camera, ends up on YouTube, and people post it to their Facebook timeline telling their friends what an injustice it is. Their friends tell their friends, and so on, and so on…. Ba bam. It goes viral and millions of people are outraged about something that they cannot control or do anything about. Craze Rage. Admit it, you’ve probably find yourself falling victim to it. I know I have.
What causes this? Why is this whole phenomenon so provocative and inviting? A major reason is the instant access we have to all kinds of knowledge and information available at our fingertips. Much of this knowledge and access is incredibly beneficial, healthy, and useful. Some of it, not so much. Internet search engines use the web in the same manner that supermarkets use the checkout line, for impulse buying. Many a day you probably go to your computer with the best of intentions and something pops up on your screen, or appears in one of the sidebars. It catches your attention, you click, and you’re off and running, Alice in Wonderland style, right down a rabbit hole that you never intended to fall into. We live in an ADD world, and Andy Warhol was right. We all can have our 15 minutes of fame.
Stories that inspire anger and outrage can be quite seductive, especially if they’ve been video taped. We can watch the injustice over and over, allowing us to really savor our outrage. Outrage leads to a sense of great indignation, often quite valid, that we just have to do something about. We talk about it to others, email the link to our friends, and post it to Facebook for all the world to see. We feel good about this, after all we have taken a step to expose an injustice, and enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. What makes Craze Rage so compelling is that we get to be Rosa Parks and Gandhi with the flick of the finger. Pretty cool, right? Well, not exactly.
There are, however, some potentially unhealthy aspects to using the Internet and television in this manner. Anger, and its associated physical and emotional impact, is a great source of stress on the human body and mind. Here are some reasons that taking on too much anger is not a great idea:
⦁ Approximately 70% of primary care doctor visits in the United States each year are due to stress related complaints. Anger is, undoubtedly, stressful.
⦁ Craze Rage, in reality, accomplishes nothing if it’s not followed up with a righteous action. It feels good, we think we’ve done something constructive, but we often haven’t.
⦁ Carrying too much anger can spill over into our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. The physical damage is obvious, as is the emotional. Too much dwelling on these injustices can cause otherwise very spiritual people to question the very meaning of life, existence, and what ever they believe to be is their higher power. How many times have you heard a person say, “How could God allow this to happen?” Whether you are religious or not is not the question here. Consider the impact of so many people feeling so powerless and alone.
⦁ Craze Rage is like junk food. We consume it, it fills us up, but with what? What nourishment does our mind and spirit get from it? While we certainly need to consume some, we need to be careful of how much, what type, and how long we wallow in it.
⦁ Craze Rage contributes to more of what the poet Robert Burns called “man’s inhumanity to man.” Our children get cyber bullied,(that never happened to Theodore Cleaver), there are more instances of road rage than there were 50 to 60 years ago, and more of us are taking the role of a bystander than probably anytime in our nation’s history. We become used to pushing a button in getting somebody else to do our dirty work. Many of us are living a Walter Mitty type existence, fantasizing, and identifying with people that are actually out there making a difference. Craze Rage can keep us on the sidelines.
⦁ Craze Rage also contributes to a lack of personal responsibility, personal involvement, and personal empowerment. These three things are characteristics of a healthy and self actualized person.
While I am certainly not implying that we should not be righteously indignant at times with all the world’s injustices, I am implying that we all need to be careful of what kind of impact this has on us and those we care about. If you are a parent of young children, think about how your Craze Rage can impact them. If you truly care about making the world different, ask yourself what you are doing, actually doing, to change a part of it. Taking some action, and yes it can be letting your friends know about it, can be healthy and empowering. Just be aware of what you get outraged about and what you choose to do with those feelings.
“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” ― Aristotle
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