THANKS A FUCKING LOT April 12, 2013 5:21 AM   Subscribe

I never do this, I'm scared of MetaTalk, but phaedon's answer to this AskMe made my metafilter.
posted by the noob to MetaFilter-Related at 5:21 AM (164 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, that's pretty great.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:23 AM on April 12, 2013


That is a great response.

NOW, YOU JUST KNOCKED MY PINT OVER, WHAT'RE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
posted by arcticseal at 5:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stoicism for the win.
posted by corb at 5:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


"there is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes."

but what about lusting over that hottie in the coffee shop or stepping on a Lego or my god the ENDING OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA !!!!!!!!!
posted by secretseasons at 5:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


There is no situation that necessitates anger. None.

Piffle.
posted by DU at 5:47 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


...the ENDING OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA !!!!!!!!!

Urge to kill... rising.

I should probably go read that thread.
posted by Defying Gravity at 5:58 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Surely there are times when sustained anger is justifiable? A close relative of mine stormed onto my property, physically and verbally assaulted his sister and his girlfriend screamed abuse at me and my mother as they drove away. A few days later the girlfriend basically called my son retarded. Being angry about that for longer than 20 minutes is not unwarranted, I think.

I'm all in favour of letting little things slide though, for sure. Let the spirit of Fonzie flow through you.
posted by h00py at 6:09 AM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Being angry about that for longer than 20 minutes is not unwarranted, I think.

Perhaps, but how useful is it?
posted by Mooski at 6:23 AM on April 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


I loved the ending of BSG.

I think that advice is great for that person, but not everyone can or wants to live life that way.

I think there's a perfectly good place for anger in this world. Anger's what gets you to call your politicians, it's what makes you want to fight injustices, it's what causes you to stick up for people, it's what (often) gets you your new job, etc. I could go on for a long time.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


No love for the slow-burning hatred of injustice that lasts a lifetime? What is the world coming to?
posted by Abiezer at 6:29 AM on April 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


For that asker, for that situation, it's amazing advice. Rage over the smallest things used to be a huge problem of mine, and it's taken a lot for me to step back from it. On the other hand, I totally agree with cjorgensen. Sure, small slights are something that shouldn't provoke rage, and moving away from that is really important. On the other hand, anger is a perfectly natural emotion, and can be channelled into positive outcomes. It's the channelling and focusing that is so difficult, but the difficulty shouldn't make us think anger isn't useful or good.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I believe that phaedon's answer can be applied to a lot of situations. There is no doubt that when in the right mood, having just experienced some negative, being under stress, being frightened, or any other number of life events, we get angry when it isn't necessary, doesn't serve any purpose, and, in fact, makes things worse.

That said, the answer, however, paints with a pretty broad brush when the statement "There is no situation that necessitates anger. None." is made. I realize that the question was about "small stuff", so if we restrict that "no situation" to no "small" situation, I agree.

But, when the situation isn't small, when it's a huge, life changing event, perhaps stuffing that anger isn't all that healthy. Been there, done that, and had to put a lot of energy backtracking to resolve it.
posted by HuronBob at 6:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


If anybody invites you to an angry place, decline the invitation.

But the Cro-Mags are playing with Madball :(
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Just squeeze your rage into a bitter little ball and release it at an appropriate time. Like that day I hit the referee with a whiskey bottle. Remember that, when daddy hit the referee?"
posted by bondcliff at 6:51 AM on April 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


I prefer to push my rage down into my stomach where it causes me acid reflux and ulcers and will some day kill me (just not this week).
posted by cjorgensen at 6:54 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


We used to think ulcers were caused by stress, and everything else was caused by things outside your mental state. But now we know stress can do a number on you in a lot of different ways... and ulcers are caused by bacteria.
posted by Jpfed at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Talking science at me makes me angry!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, I've been angry about the abandonment of Reader for *at least* 20 minutes, but as suggested, I think there's something underlying that emotion. Google, I'm looking at you (all squinty and rage-wrinkled).
posted by iamkimiam at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2013


Perhaps, but how useful is it?

Think how much social justice is powered by anger at injustice.
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Surely there are times when sustained anger is justifiable? A close relative of mine stormed onto my property, physically and verbally assaulted his sister and his girlfriend screamed abuse at me and my mother as they drove away. A few days later the girlfriend basically called my son retarded. Being angry about that for longer than 20 minutes is not unwarranted, I think.

As someone who used to have major anger problem which are under control but not yet totally resolved... 'this is justifiable' was the excuse I used to spew my frustration and rage over anyone who had wronged me, as well as innocent bystanders. Nowadays, things that would have sent me into a spiral of fury just roll off my back. Even in situations where no one could possibly blame me for getting angry, I am usually able to avoid it. And my life is so, so much better than it used to be.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:08 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Think how much social justice is powered by anger at injustice.

Thinking "this thing upsets me and therefore I am going to take action to change it" and thinking "this thing upsets me so I am going to scream until I pass out" are not actually the same emotion at all, and it's the second thing that the OP of that question was asking about.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:09 AM on April 12, 2013 [31 favorites]


Think how much social justice is powered by anger at injustice.

Still not a good reason to bring Banner onto the helicarrier.
posted by griphus at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


Yeah there seem to be two different definitions of anger at work in this thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The ending of BSG was wonderful.

"Hey Galen, I know what it's like when your wife gets killed because I killed my own wife. Now I am going to go live with her in a teepee."
posted by Tanizaki at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's well written, but I completely disagree with it :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on April 12, 2013


In that case, yes, I agree. An activity specifically defined as a useless subset of a more general activity is useless.
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


i turned my hatred of the ending of bsg into a win by telling myself i am much better writer than Ron Moore. anger might be healthier, I dunno
posted by angrycat at 7:24 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Similarly
posted by Sophie1 at 7:30 AM on April 12, 2013


Just the thing I needed to read today. Thanks be to the noob. Thanks phaedon.
posted by carsonb at 7:31 AM on April 12, 2013


I think phaedon's point isn't so much to always avoid anger as it is to exercise choice among conflicting reactions - a choice many are unaware they have.
posted by klarck at 7:31 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


In that case, yes, I agree. An activity specifically defined as a useless subset of a more general activity is useless.

I mean you read the AskMe, right? This was not someone saying 'I need to curb my righteous anger which powers my achievements in social justice activities, please help.'
posted by shakespeherian at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2013


I mean you read the AskMe, right?

What, you expect people to read links now? What happened to mkaing assumptions based on the first few comments? No sense of tradition around here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


If anybody invites you to an angry place, decline the invitation.

This should be the "Everyone needs a hug" for MeFi.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:37 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I mean you read the AskMe, right? This was not someone saying 'I need to curb my righteous anger which powers my achievements in social justice activities, please help.'"

That is no excuse to write "There is no situation that necessitates anger. None." There are plenty of situations that demand anger. There's nothing wrong with being angry, only in how one acts on that anger,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I read the link. I just disagree with the simplistic, feel-good response to it.
posted by DU at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found Decani's answer much more useful.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:47 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


So the birds are just supposed to react calmly as the pigs abduct their eggs?
posted by brain_drain at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm curious. What do you think is so amazing about that advice? Please spell it out.

"There is no situation that necessitates anger. None."

"I'm going to tell you right now there is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes."

"Everything can be met with a chuckle."

???
posted by 99percentfake at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2013


The statement "There is no situation that necessitates anger" is entirely different from the statements "There is no situation that justifies anger" and "There is no situation that demands anger". In fact, they are different to the extent that I am baffled as to why they keep getting conflated in this thread.
posted by kyrademon at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


Well, proof I guess that OP is justified in being scared of MetaTalk.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:58 AM on April 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


Hey, guys, the noob didn't say it was good advice, just that it made their metafilter. Chuckle.
posted by michaelh at 8:02 AM on April 12, 2013


I think that, much like Miko's 'best breakup' advice, some people will really be enthusiastic and get something from the answer and others will present their (often quite good) reasons for disagreeing with it. There are valuable things to take from phaedon's advice and I hope that the original asker will find something that speaks to them in it.

Me, I was raised by two very angry people and I consider angry to be a negative and often unwarranted emotion. Anger makes me feel upset and powerless. So there were elements of phaedon's advice that I found helpful and elements of decani's advice that I found helpful--and who knows what the original asker will find helpful. It's a great question to ask, so I'm glad that AskMe was able to supply a wide variety of answers to it.
posted by librarylis at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I've noticed is that a lot of the times when I think I'm angry, I'm actually scared.

Another thing - and this may be very useful for other mefites who have commutes where people are trying to kill you - is that I find it very hard to become homicidally enraged at said people if I am listening to music. Like, try listening to Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) on your drive to or from work. It's hard to stay mad when you're car dancing.
posted by rtha at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Decani's advice is basically phaedon's, spelled out.

Anger doesn't motivate me. It's an initial response, sure, but the motivation comes from deeper, non-anger feelings. That's what gets me to act on social justice issues or otherwise do what needs to be done. I think those who are leaning on that horn are generalizing on a surface reaction, though (and maybe being a little contrarian).
posted by batmonkey at 8:13 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


St. John Cassian wrote that while it is possible to be angry for the right reasons, it is very hard to do. So, don't be angry.

Surely there are times when sustained anger is justifiable? A close relative of mine stormed onto my property, physically and verbally assaulted his sister and his girlfriend screamed abuse at me and my mother as they drove away. A few days later the girlfriend basically called my son retarded. Being angry about that for longer than 20 minutes is not unwarranted, I think.

If your angry is any way has its source in your own pride or self-pity, then no, it is not justified. Anger is very often self-indulgent. We must it admit it - it feels good to be angry. Sometimes we even find ways to keep our anger inflamed so we can savor that feeling. We sit and we stew. How we pollute ourselves.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I like to think that when people share something they enjoyed it's not a referendum on the thing itself.
posted by boo_radley at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Time spent getting angry is time taken away from planning REVENGE.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 AM on April 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'm scared of MetaTalk

That kind of talk just pisses me off!
posted by Danf at 8:24 AM on April 12, 2013


Oh, I hope I remember that answer the next time someone gives me the finger. That'll be fun.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2013


My comment was definitely in response to "There is no situation that necessitates anger. None.". Knowing an emotion isn't useful doesn't cause it to disappear in a puff of logic. That would be nice though. I could use that.
posted by h00py at 8:32 AM on April 12, 2013


Twenty minutes? Hell, I've had strong feelings that lasted twenty years. A fine rage is worth savouring. Like a hug from a hive of killer bees.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I also think I prefer Decani's advice in that thread. Principally, because I get the sense Decani has actually dealt with the thing the OP is asking about. But, anger is a choice, so phaedon's not wrong.
posted by furiousthought at 8:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y'all motherfuckers need Marcus Aurelius.
posted by atrazine at 8:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Another thing - and this may be very useful for other mefites who have commutes where people are trying to kill you - is that I find it very hard to become homicidally enraged at said people if I am listening to music.

This is right on, actually. I started listening to Esquivel in the car, and now when someone does something crazy on the road I just figure they had too many martinis at the party we were all just at, and I smile a big-toothed smile their way, and a little chime sounds as the sun glints off my teeth.
posted by invitapriore at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. (Marcus Aurelius)
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


That is no excuse to write "There is no situation that necessitates anger. None." There are plenty of situations that demand anger. There's nothing wrong with being angry, only in how one acts on that anger,

Thank you. What is with certain emotions being considered moral failings now? This strikes me as weirdly zombie-ish. And who are these superhumans who have complete control over their emotions? I have little, if any, over mine. Control over the actions that stem from the emotions, yes, but the emotions themselves, no. I clearly have some evolving to do.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


There is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes.

Say that after watching this week's episode of Southland.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anger isn't a moral failing, any more than delight is. It's a fine emotion. A splendid emotion. Oftentimes it's the right emotion. But there definitely comes a point where you can be angry just because you deserve to be angry, and that anger can hurt you more than it helps you.

Phaedon's advice and Decani's look exactly the same to me.
posted by KathrynT at 9:02 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Another thing - and this may be very useful for other mefites who have commutes where people are trying to kill you - is that I find it very hard to become homicidally enraged at said people if I am listening to music.

I ride my bike to work, and if I listen to music there is a good chance the people trying to kill me will actually suceed.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


That sentence doesn't mean "Don't ever be angry ever"... it means exactly what Phaedon said in the rest of their comment, and what Decani was saying; start thinking about what makes you angry... look for the fire under the pan, rather than grease spitting. Blowups are symptoms, not causes.

Then, there probably are things that you think really bug you which are not "part of your core being". The angers that are part of the core... keep them if you like, but as both comments were saying; there are extraneous angers, and those are not only socially harmful, but also personally harmful. It isn't about making us zombies, it is about not shortening our lives with needless stress.

As Decani said; The thing that has enabled me to maintain this attitude (most of the time. I have lapses) is the difference it makes to the way I feel. When I do this - have a word with myself, realise I'm caring too much, letting it go - I can literally feel my shoulders relax and the knots in my muscles loosen. It feels good, man. And it's nice to feel good. You want more of that feeling, so it becomes rewarding to repeat the behaviour that gives you that feeling.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Say that after watching this week's episode of Southland.

Ah, man. I'm watching that tonight.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2013


I ride my bike to work, and if I listen to music there is a good chance the people trying to kill me will actually suceed.

True dat (not that it stops a lot of the cyclists I see on the road, grrrr). Works pretty well in a car, though.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2013


What is with certain emotions being considered moral failings now?

A review of relevant theology and philosophy reveals that this question works if the definition of "now" means "the last several millennia". Despite that, I wish I could say I was surprised by those reveling in their anger and extolling its virtues.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2013


Anger is a weapon only to one's opponent.
posted by aubilenon at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'm all for learning to deal with stress in a healthful manner but the way that the sentence was written really does make it sound like the author believes that feeling anger is unequivocally a bad thing - like hitting or something. I feel like I've seen similar sentiments a lot lately, here and elsewhere and I'm bugged by it. The idea of judging people for having negative emotions - there's something about it that's kind of sinister. Probably phaedon meant something more reasonable though.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:22 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anger is a weapon only to one's opponent.

One's greatest opponent is the self.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anger blinds. Anger distorts. Anger brings loss of control. It weakens, and leaves people vulnerable to many attacks (from the sides, when enraged tunnel vision has a person glaring at "one thing"). It is only one fractional element of what people fighting (and winning) for social justice are loading their cannons with.

In moderation, as with all things anger is a human thing of course, but would anyone extolling anger also promote feuds? What that question was asking was not talking about "TV show ending bugged me a tiny bit, it bugged me, then I lol'd", it was a person who wanted to deal with with rage issues, which, at their most intense can be sort of debilitating (socially, and long term health wise).

They are choices, and saying that nothing necessitates anger (an internal-personal "logical" point), does not negate that "there are plenty of situations that demand anger" (external)... it merely is a rhetorical device used to point out to someone (asking a question about how to turn it off) who is habituated to "go to anger", that they have choices.
You can choose to go to anger, when a situation demands it... but no situation necessitates it. Those are not mutually exclusive.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I hope I remember that answer the next time someone gives me the finger.

I saw a strangely charming response to being given the finger once; I sometimes splurge and call a car to work, and once the driver this little hobbit-like guy (not short, just...generally cheerful-looking and adorable).

I don't remember what happened - I think our car and another car just got caught in a lane-merge scrum of some kind - and the other guy gave my driver the finger. And he just laughed. "You have only one finger?" He said back to the other driver (who of course couldn't hear), and held up his whole hand, waggling his fingers. "Look, I have five! I'm sorry you have only one!" And then he laughed again and waved bye-bye to the other driver as he exited into a different lane.

I'm gonna do that someday.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Anger blinds. Anger distorts. Anger brings loss of control.

Not necessarily. It can clarify, focus and discipline. As with all emotions, it depends on how they are expressed and used.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The advice has to be looked at in context, though. It's not a 'from the top' kind of thing, which is what the judgmental perspective would be. It's an advocacy for the Asker to seek another path internally to resolve their issue.
posted by batmonkey at 9:32 AM on April 12, 2013


But who chooses to "go to" anger or not? I think you can choose whether you're going to do some asinine road ragey thing or if you're going to sit there and stew or if you're going to say, "well this sucks" and then relax and make the best of it, but I don't think you can choose not to feel angry to begin with.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I declare this thread to have become ridiculous.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Definitely BB; moderation clarifies, and sharpens, and returns control (shouldn't have suggested it was all or none [I mentioned moderation after that part]).

But the asker was saying that it interferes with their ability to be the person that they see themselves as. That seems like they were asking for help moderating it. So that is why I was saying it can blind, can distort, can bring loss of control.

"but I don't think you can choose not to feel angry to begin with"
No, you are right.
But you can change how long the anger stews for, you can learn to see when you are starting to be triggered, or in situations that trigger anger... it is similar to quitting smoking, the desire to smoke is not "in your being", it is a feeling, a desire (a really deep one, that is even chemically enhanced), but people quit that.

No, we can't "erase" anger... and it is a lifelong thing, but we can note when we are getting angry, or are angry, and remind ourselves that it hurts us (unless it is an injustice, then yeah, fight it, use all the tools; but if it is road rage? yeah, despite the co-dependency, and some relapses, and late night calls, it is possible to DTMFA).
posted by infinite intimation at 9:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


feeling anger is unequivocally a bad thing

It is. Just because we can't help it or sometimes we turn it into positive change doesn't mean we needed it in the first place. Sometimes I overcome depression by making something cool, that doesn't mean I couldn't have done it without the depression or that I need to feel like shit to make cool things. It doesn't make you a bad person anymore than being hungry when you haven't eaten does, but you certainly don't go around praising hunger. Maybe you do. I do not. I'm way too cool for that. And I like to eat.

You can't always choose not to be angry, but once you realize that it's killing you it's a lot easier to get over it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I declare this thread to have become ridiculous.

Not until someone gets so mad about people getting mad or people not getting mad that they disable their account.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:50 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2013


But you can change how long the anger stews for, you can learn to see when you are starting to be triggered, or in situations that trigger anger... it is similar to quitting smoking, the desire to smoke is not "in your being", it is a feeling, a desire (a really deep one, that is even chemically enhanced), but people quit that.

No, we can't "erase" anger... and it is a lifelong thing, but we can note when we are getting angry, or are angry, and remind ourselves that it hurts us


Okay, I totally agree with you.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2013


Great now do SADNESS and ENMITY thanks.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:05 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


feeling anger is unequivocally a bad thing

It is.


This very thread includes equivocal opinions on this point.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


A lot of times when people say "don't be angry" they are also asking the person to drop the needs and issues the person is trying to bring up.

Like someone is being treated really badly by a friend and all the other friends are ignoring that and asking the friend being treated badly to stop being so angry.

Anger shaming can actually be a really shitty thing to do when you're basically using kind of smug "I am enlightened and not all angry like you" to walk over someone elses feelings.

The feelings that can come up and result in anger can be perfectly valid feelings, and sometimes when someone presents their feelings or needs about something we did, we see them as "angry" when we might do better to actually listen.

But anger that is carried out on random people for small transgressions, and rage bubbling over in various relationships as a regular state of things is not useful. Listening to the emotions and needs behind the emotions however could be useful.
posted by xarnop at 10:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I can see what you're saying, Potomac. But I feel like sometimes when people lecture others on how bad anger is, they really do mean it in the sense that they feel it's wrong to even have the emotion and that they have somehow developed beyond that point. Or at least that's how it comes off.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


What is with certain emotions being considered moral failings now?

Anger is an open wound. Consistently angry people are more akin to cutters than anything else and in fact the overlap between constant anger and physical self-harm is fairly high.

Self-harm is not moral or immoral, but I must admit it's a phenomenon that I'd wish to see a lot less of.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


it ain't bad to get mad
posted by bitteroldman at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I come from a state -- Minnesota -- where emotional reactions are often treated with such suspicion that people aren't sure how to emotionally respond to anything for hours or even months after it happens. So you end up yelling at a mirror about an hour after somebody cuts you off in traffic.

I know this is often painted as repression, but I find it useful to be suspicious of immediate emotional reactions. Emotions aren't very smart, and people who act immediately on strong emotions have a history, in my experience, of regretting it, or at the very least of regularly acting in a way that they wouldn't have had they been cooler.

But the bathroom mirror anger? That's something you can savor. That's something you can work through. And, when you have cooled off, you can plan your revenge coldly, dispassionately, effectively --

I've said too much.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]




Meh. Sometimes people who are in really crappy life circumstances wind up being more "consistantly angry" than others.

I don't like being around people who are ticking time bombs either, but I also think, judge not lest ye be judged and such.

Since we're talking anger being a moral failure, the kind of judging you're applying to people who may be suffering wounds that make a person irritable could also be considered a moral failure.

If you're into pointing out people moral failure's and stuff.

It's also this vicious game on the internet where people say vicious things to each other and then any expression that can be construed as "anger" is used against the opponent to prove they are morally inferior.

This is a LAME tactic and if you're judging someone as inferior for getting mad, you also should judge yourself for judging them and for saying shitty things to them to begin with.
posted by xarnop at 10:26 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Being angry all the time is exhausting, for the angry person and for the people around yo. I do not recommend it.
posted by Mister_A at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2013


You know what makes me angry? People who think that everyone is all the same and that the right medicine for someone needs to be the right medicine for anyone.

[But what I really want to know is what is the beer that Decani likes more than Guinness.]
posted by benito.strauss at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2013


I feel like sometimes when people lecture others on how bad anger is, they really do mean it in the sense that they feel it's wrong to even have the emotion and that they have somehow developed beyond that point.

I am not even close to being beyond anger. And it certainly would make me even more mad for someone to tell me "Stop being mad" when I'm mad. But anger can feed on self-righteousness. "I have a right to be mad!" justifies a lot of shitty behavior. So maybe it would help to realize that the lecturer, however annoyingly smug, is right. Your actions can be judged, not your emotions. But when one emotion leads to a lot more bad actions than another, it's time to put that sucker under a different code of conduct.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


You're beautiful when you're angry.
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2013


Think how much social justice is powered by anger at injustice

Okay. Now I'm thinking about how much social justice is powered by a sense of injustice.

Anger is not a necessary stopover between the two. People often fix things simply because they are broken.

IMHO this is a temperament thing. You see it on the playground at a very early age when sharing breaks down for some reason or another. Some kids will attempt to negotiate things back to fairness while others quickly become frustrated and angry about the situation.

No question about it, sometimes a good tantrum scares everyone back into line. But that doesn't make it a good thing; it often leaves long lasting scars on both sides.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So maybe it would help to realize that the lecturer, however annoyingly smug, is right."

I completely, respectfully, disagree with you.

"Stop being mad" is related to emotions not shitty behavior.

"Stop doing shitty things" is a valid thing to say. "Stop being mad" doesn't really even make conceptual sense especially when you're trying to use it to silence someone else talking about something that has upset them that was done to them or currently being done to them.
posted by xarnop at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"....anger is always necessary.

Because anger has driven every major movement for social change in this country, and probably in the world. The labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, the modern feminist movement, the gay rights movement, the anti-war movement in the Sixties, the anti-war movement today, you name it... all of them have had, as a major driving force, a tremendous amount of anger. Anger over injustice, anger over mistreatment and brutality, anger over helplessness.

I mean, why the hell else would people bother to mobilize social movements? Social movements are hard. They take time, they take energy, they sometimes take serious risk of life and limb, community and career. Nobody would fucking bother if they weren't furious about something.

I'll acknowledge that anger is a difficult tool in a social movement. A dangerous one even. It can make people act rashly; it can make it harder to think clearly; it can make people treat potential allies as enemies. In the worst-case scenario, it can even lead to violence. Anger is valid, it's valuable, it's necessary... but it can also misfire, and badly."
posted by lazaruslong at 10:43 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I feel like sometimes when people lecture others on how bad anger is, they really do mean it in the sense that they feel it's wrong to even have the emotion

What we water grows.

and that they have somehow developed beyond that point.

Ironically I think a lot more of the moralizing comes from people who are angry at themselves for *not* being able to transcend their own humanity. Also see: virulently anti-gay politicians in airport bathrooms.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2013


You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
posted by The Whelk


I imagine you transforming into an angry sea snail with a yellowish-gray hue.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:46 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Gruuuuuuuu......
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to clarify I think saying "Stop being mad" to someone is a stupid idea. I'm sayin' "Tools to reduce and channel anger before it harms anyone are useful, especially for people who often feel out of control, because anger is inherently destructive."

I mean, why the hell else would people bother to mobilize social movements?

I disagree with (almost) every word of that article. Social justice changes are more often motivated by love, not anger. Anger is the firehose. Justice is the hands holding the protestors together.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Agree to disagree, I guess. I think the firehose is based out of fear of losing privilege and power. The people willing to face the firehouses and the dogs are fucking pissed at being treated like shit and hit with firehoses and dogs.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Think how much social justice is powered by anger at injustice.

I don't know, and neither do you. Maybe none. Was Gandhi angry? Was MLK angry? Are people who work at soup kitchens angry? Who knows. You'd have to ask them. Don't think that just because people say they "fight against" injustice, they must be driven by anger. A lot of people who work towards justice are driven by compassion or love or solidarity or a whole host of other emotions.
posted by googly at 10:55 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Social movements are mobs of the furious, directed by clear-headed, cold-hearted sociopaths. Somebody has to make the lunches and draw up the lesson plans. Usually the establishment, entrenched as it is in privilege, is taken by surprise because, you know, God is on their side, and the underpinnings of the kerfluffle are forever lost on them.

I, on the other hand, am a portrait of equanimity, calm demeanor overlaying a roiling, seething loathing for the Fox network, mostly on account of that Firefly deal.

Give peace a chance.
posted by mule98J at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2013


Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I ride my bike to work, and if I listen to music there is a good chance the people trying to kill me will actually suceed.

I think I've walked by you a few mornings this week near Lake and Canal. Unless someone else is out there biking in what appeared to be a pink polkadot skirt.
posted by phunniemee at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2013


But the bathroom mirror anger? That's something you can savor. That's something you can work through. And, when you have cooled off, you can plan your revenge coldly, dispassionately, effectively --

I've said too much.


Or as John Dryden tells us, "Beware the fury of a patient man."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2013


What about a daily Two-Minute Hate? Is that still acceptable?
posted by bendy at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, why the hell else would people bother to mobilize social movements? Social movements are hard. They take time, they take energy, they sometimes take serious risk of life and limb, community and career. Nobody would fucking bother if they weren't furious about something

I think you are correct that anger gets the ball rolling in most social movements and probably keeps the core motivated, but I don't believe that the vast numbers who come on board do so out of anger as much as a sense of the right thing to do.

The movement towards acceptance of homosexuals is a good example of this. There had been an angry core of a movement for thirty years before any sort of traction was achieved, and when that traction arrived it was not in the form of angry people but rather in the form of millions of people with very little personal stake finally taking notice and saying "that's not right."

But it's the core that made that happen and there is no doubt that many of them were driven by a very righteous anger. I'm certainly not going to sit here and claim to know that they could have accomplished what they did without that driving them, but I can tell you from first and second accounts that a lot of people are now the walking wounded. There is remarkably little celebration of recent gains in the core because they've been pissed off so long that there's no context left for even incremental victories, just the next thing to be pissed off about.

So no question about it, anger can accomplish things. But that doesn't make it the only way to do things, and it certainly doesn't mean it comes without significant personal cost.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2013


I wish I had more time to communicate what happened to me the morning before I made that comment, because it's kind of funny and speaks to the driving culture in Los Angeles, where God forbid you find yourself in a car trying to do something legitimate - like say, parallel park into a spot - that involves slowing the yogi or reiki master behind you who is late for class. I mean, I don't think I've ever made a three-point turn in LA without someone trying to run me over. Beautiful weather, beaches and mountains - and everyone's an asshole. It's not unlike how Frank Herbert describes Caladan in Dune:

"We came from Caladan - a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind - we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life - we went soft, we lost our edge."

Except for edge, it's like people have lost their sense of decency.

So I mean, this type of stuff used to drive me nuts. (I mean, clearly. I pull that Dune quote out of my ass all the time.) Then someone doesn't show up for their appointment and doesn't even call to tell you, you break them off in a voicemail, then someone cuts in front of you in line at Starbucks like you don't exist, you might snap at them or even worse not say anything, and all of a sudden you have the makings of a bad day. Notice how I'm describing my day as if I have no role in it. I am the victim and then I turn into the tornado. Always justified.

But eventually something has to be said about letting complete strangers walking into your life and dictating your mood and destroying your serenity. While I agree with the (in this context, admittedly passive) Aristotelian principle of moderation - yes, some situations call for anger - what of detachment? Anybody who wants to be peaceful and happy has to figure out how to deal with reality and decline invitations. It's my belief that transcending our circumstances is what makes up distinctly human. So, why not laugh in the face of disaster? Are you saying it's impossible? I mean, don't forget that at some point you'll end up in a box for the rest of eternity. In the meantime, it's not like someone's going to walk out of the woods and hand you a star for your short temper and fascinating insults. Although, this does work on MetaFilter!

The kind of anger I experience is driven by my need to be recognized and express my individuality, and yet, it's the ultimate form of codependence. Cesar Milan (of all people) talks about the difference between dominance and aggression, and how they are for the most part mutually exclusive. The OP is clearly talking about aggression that lacks a dominant quality. So, am I independent and in control when I yell back at or strike someone who is yelling at me? Of course, you say. Am I employing clarity and focus when I straighten out a loved one? Why not. And yet, for my own mental health, I take the hard line that no situation necessitates an angry response, and there's always another option. Why be beholden to the way you are spoken to or treated? Can you not rise above that?

Today, I may not be able to choose when I get angry, but I do have a choice when it comes to processing that anger and discarding it. Absolutely. To paraphrase a good one-liner, holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Yes, I'm a fucking brooder. I used to shit on trolls like somebody was paying me to do it, and I've sat at a desk hating my job for two fucking years. Today, I try my best not to hold on to any feeling for too long, to press the mental delete button through meditation and gratitude, and I got canned from my job and ended up falling into a line of work that I love every day I wake up and do it. And I try open my mouth only when I have something good to say and if somebody asks me for input. Without going around saying, "Do you want to know what I think?"

I've had some serious misgivings about AskMe as of late, and am surprised my original comment garnered such a response. I'm glad people disagree. I'm also glad people agree, it really says something about our deeper human nature that we don't always show. It's like that moment in every episode of Intervention when everyone says they love each other. It's like, oh yeah, love. The stuff that binds us. How about I focus on that. I'm very grateful to be a part of this community today.
posted by phaedon at 11:17 AM on April 12, 2013 [35 favorites]


Half the time I think I'm angry, it turns out I'm actually hungry.
posted by sonika at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


But what I really want to know is what is the beer that Decani likes more than Guinness.]
posted by benito.strauss at 6:31 PM on April 12


I'm a bitter man, and a bitter drinker. I love the bitter. Stout's always going to come in second to a good bitter. But I do love stout too. Hell, I just love beer.
posted by Decani at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anger is an Energy
posted by philip-random at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anger is an Energy
posted by philip-random at 7:44 PM on April 12


I'm glad someone linked that. I thought about it. :-)
posted by Decani at 11:45 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Always remember - are you angry or just hungry?

this is why I keep an apple in my bag.
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 AM on April 12, 2013


Anger is an Energy

... because if I learned anything doing my early adult time in the 80s, you're basically just food for the reptiles until you figure a way to channel your anger, by which I mean, it must be expressed one way or another, or you will be eaten, by the anger itself if not the reptilian overlords.

So the question becomes, how shall you express it, and who/what at?
posted by philip-random at 11:53 AM on April 12, 2013


Always remember - are you angry or just hungry?

For me, the anger spot-check is, am I one of the following: hungry, thirsty, tired or hot? Nine out of ten times when I find myself about to punch things, if I actually stop and think I realize I'm not so much angry as just physically out of whack.

(Hangry = best neologism in English)
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:54 AM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Okay, so 900 more words that back off on the absolutes.

I think people enjoy making and reading strongly worded messages. Grain of salt, etc.

Now let me duck out of the way before I get run over by the POWER USERS.
posted by 99percentfake at 12:01 PM on April 12, 2013


Anger is an Energy

Rise is one of the best songs to walk around town listening to. Extra points if you sing along out loud.

28 years ago that came out. Yikes.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2013


Wait, are people getting angry about this MeTa?

and the other guy gave my driver the finger. And he just laughed. "You have only one finger?" He said back to the other driver (who of course couldn't hear), and held up his whole hand, waggling his fingers. "Look, I have five! I'm sorry you have only one!" And then he laughed again and waved bye-bye to the other driver as he exited into a different lane.

Oh that is so good! I am determined to use that now as well.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:42 PM on April 12, 2013


I think I've walked by you a few mornings this week near Lake and Canal. Unless someone else is out there biking in what appeared to be a pink polkadot skirt.

Today it was black taffeta with silver holofoil stars. I am a very practical bike commuter.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


10 Questions for the Dalai Lama - Time Magazine Interview

Question: Do you ever feel angry or outraged? —Kantesh Guttal, PUNE, INDIA

His Holiness: Oh, yes, of course. I'm a human being. Generally speaking, if a human being never shows anger, then I think something's wrong. He's not right in the brain. [Laughs.]
posted by rtha at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wait, are people getting angry about this MeTa?

The people who are getting riled up are, I'm betting, people who have been repeatedly told that they mustn't disturb the quiet with their unpleasant emotions. The middle way lies in different directions depending on where you are starting from.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:54 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


NOW, YOU JUST KNOCKED MY PINT OVER, WHAT'RE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Buy you another, I suppose. Maybe two. Look, I know where they make it, so ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:03 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Time spent getting angry is time taken away from planning REVENGE.

Yes. Don't get angry. Get even.

(By living a good life, with friends, loved ones, and pets who worship you. Being kind to strangers and doing everything you can to make the world a better place for your having been in it.)











And when the occasion calls for it; arson and extortion.
posted by quin at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


You mean coincidental and wholly inexplicable fire and neighborhood business protection fees, right?
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on April 12, 2013


Hey, a guy's gotta make a living.

And, you know, have some kind of entertainment.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2013


The best fires are always, always the purely coincidental who could have possibly expected that to happen wow what are the odds gosh that's too bad I'm sorry to hear it well I gotta go I'm on jury duty fires.
posted by aramaic at 1:20 PM on April 12, 2013


The people who are getting riled up are, I'm betting, people who have been repeatedly told that they mustn't disturb the quiet with their unpleasant emotions. The middle way lies in different directions depending on where you are starting from.

yeah. there is a really, really, REALLY big difference between "I find it really inconvenient when your anger at my mistreatment of you interferes with my ability to feel comfortable mistreating you," which I know a lot of people in this thread have experienced and which is terrible and gaslighting and should never happen, and "If you develop the ability to respond to small frictions with calmness, and to injustices with productive action, rather than leaping to non-productive fury for either, your life will be dramatically improved."
posted by KathrynT at 1:21 PM on April 12, 2013 [27 favorites]


I cannot favorite KathrynT's comment hard enough. It's right fucking on.
posted by Kpele at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2013


phaedon, that was a really nice comment you just made in this thread. You seem swell.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:02 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think KathrynT's comment helped me to realize that we may be talking past each other a little. There are different kinds of anger, and lumping them all together may cause confusion. Maybe the type of anger that motivates social change could be more accurately construed as rage against oppression that motivates self-sacrifice on behalf of removing the oppression. And maybe the type of anger that we feel when cut off in traffic or yelled at by a boss could be more accurately construed as everyday anger at common mistreatments or inconveniences.

In light of that distinction, I'd agree 100% with phaedon's take on the latter type. The former type to me seems warranted and useful.

Thanks for your followup comment here as well, phaedon. Well said, and I'm grateful to you for taking the time to explain your thoughts in more detail.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


To paraphrase quin, the approach I have been working to execute for much of my life (still not perfect at it) is:

Don't get angry.
Don't get even.
Get BETTER.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, the anger spot-check is, am I one of the following: hungry, thirsty, tired or hot?

Works for me, though the version I learned is the HALTS diagnostic self-check for avoiding bad decisions: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Sick?

MADLESS is another useful mnemonic, I find.
posted by Kinbote at 4:21 PM on April 12, 2013


I liked Decani's answer, even if I am on his fucking shit list.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:26 PM on April 12, 2013


I have definitely had the experience of getting cut off on my way to work in the morning and yelling at the offending party to go [sin against his body], fuming the rest of the way, only to arrive and eat an egg sandwich and immediately feel extremely sheepish. It was eye-opening.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to eat an egg sandwich before your commute.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:43 PM on April 12, 2013


I'm pro anger. I'm talking about anger, the feeling. Not anger, the display, or anger,the lifestyle.

Perhaps, but how useful is it?

Feelings aren't about usefulness. Making them about usefulness turns them into manipulations. It's too bad there's no book "The Gift of Anger" like there is for fear.

Well, I just googled and it turns out there is such a book. There goes my book contract! Feeling anger always tells you something, if you're willing to listen, though it's often not what you wanted to hear. In practice, whether or not you experience anger isn't initially a choice. The choice is what you do with the feeling. My own belief is that if more people understood and accepted their anger, fewer people would end up being waterboarded (which we know is an enhanced interrogation technique and not a display of emotion.) "Accepted" in this context refers to recognition of its existence, not to "finding it acceptable." Inability to acknowledge one's own anger is a major cause of depression.

I'm oversimplifying (as I'll bet that book does, too) but anger is just a component of awareness which can be separated out from how you behave in response to it. Too many people either push it away from consciousness or else lose control and rage.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Feelings aren't about usefulness. Making them about usefulness turns them into manipulations.

Well, yes, though the person I'm talking about manipulating is one's self. I don't think the sensation of anger is a choice, any more than I think the sensation of burning is a choice if you put your hand on a hot stove top. The choice, as you and many others have noted, is what you do after the sensation of anger has presented. You can engage with it and tell yourself you're justified in being angry (as you may well, be) and spin yourself up, or you can notice it beginning and ending and go from there. My point was that while I'm sure it's justified to remain angry for some time over the unreasonable actions of another person or persons, it's not particularly helpful or useful.
posted by Mooski at 6:24 PM on April 12, 2013


Obscure reference that is my exact stance as well. Thank you for stating that so eloquently. I think we're talking past each other as well because there are so many different ways to define and describe anger, some components of which are very useful and important to pay attention to, and some of which are indeed not necessary.

Sorrow isn't USEFUL but sometimes it needs to be there and acknowledging and comforting and being present for it can be a lot better than trying to erase it or judge it as bad because it's "not necessary" or because it is indeed unpleasant to experience.

This idea that feeling an emotion is going to "harm" you, or that letting yourself feel your emotions without forcing the emotions to be what you want them to be, seems more detrimental to health than acknowledging and supporting oneself in emotions that come up. If you're regularly engraged over tiny mishaps, it would be worth paying attention to what is going on in your life. Are you happy with your job? Are you working to hard and things in life overwhelming you? Having you been living/working/growing up in high pressure environments where people's mistakes were lambasted and there was a lot of criticism and shaming going on? Was feeling superior an important survival mechanism developed to get needed attention because your emotional needs weren't being met?

There are a lot of reasons that one can be compassionate with oneself or others when examining the anger that is present. Stifling it or making it dissipate ASAP isn't necessarily the path to health. Letting your emotions out can be very healing. It's just once you listen to them you will likely find the anger has very little to do with small matters at hand. And really seriously, sometimes you're just not getting enough sleep, overtaxed, not eating right, or having allergies. There's all kinds of factors that can lead to general irritability that can be addressed so that it's not such a problem.
posted by xarnop at 6:43 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, trying not to notice that people are hurting you in order to not ever have anger is not necessarily a good thing. Pain and discomfort exist for reasons and learning that a certain person is harmful and to be avoided, or to protect yourself and others from them can be very useful. Or to stand up to them. Sometimes telling someone in firm language they need to cut that shit out and why can be more effective than asking them nicely when they're doing something really awful and can easily disregard how they are affecting you.


What's more telling people off also sets behavior of OTHERS meaning that if people who treat others badly are met with anger and disdain, others will avoid doing those same behaviors.

It's a social force that can serve a purpose, and I'm not sure erasing it entirely is in fact healthy. I prefer to use kindness, love, teaching, examples, and encouragement to help shape social behavior but when people start thinking being an asshole will get them ahead and no one will stand up to them it can become more prominent in a population. I'm just saying, it's something to at least consider, though I DO prefer the loving and nice approach to everything when possible (including handling angry people!)
posted by xarnop at 6:49 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks lazaruslong and Greg Nog for the kind comments! Y'all have a great weekend! :)
posted by phaedon at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2013

This idea that feeling an emotion is going to "harm" you, or that letting yourself feel your emotions without forcing the emotions to be what you want them to be, seems more detrimental to health than acknowledging and supporting oneself in emotions that come up.
I mean, people aren't just making up nebulous "health risks" so that we can create a species of robot automatons out of social justice activist masses. There are health pages put up by most countries with modern medicine/research climates. U.S, it is fairly well studied by Corrections Canada, in that the State is responsible for the health outcomes of inmates, and also has a big goal of reducing recidivism/finding root causes. Here is Australia's summary of some of the health implications,
The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that accompany recurrent unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:

Headache
Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
Insomnia
Increased anxiety
Depression
High blood pressure
Skin problems, such as eczema
Heart attack
Stroke.
I feel like people "praising anger" (and what really feels like t'sking people for not 'appreciating' emotion [no one here is "anti-anger", or "against people who have anger", and no one is claiming superiority, if you see comments of curbing anger, they are more likely comments that show great vulnerability, and are out on a limb opening up, not sneering at anyone, but trying to talk about a difficult thing]) haven't had to deal with something like the intense anger, or "irrational anger responses", outbursts, blowups, debilitating anger, with potential for anti-social behaviour, as the question in question was directly discussing. So, yeah, there really are two discussions going on; one is talking about the abstraction of "anger is useful [to whom, presumably at specific times, and manifesting in particular ways, it is only "a tool", for someone who can shape their anger, it isn't useful even in physical confrontations]", that first discussion is really talking about "Love" (a form that can also grow unhealthily), a love for others so intense it hurts and causes anger at injustice.

The other discussion is talking about what anger can mean in a person's life should they have unchecked anger, and allow it to rule their life (yes, it can rule a person's life [pop-psych articles 'praising anger' will say "but Malcolm X!", to which, one will ask if they believe that he was angry at his wife and or children] and it is possible, even easy, in small steps, to curb the anger that this discussion is talking about). It is a lot like saying to someone with obsessive compulsive tendencies that "being clean is a USEFUL thing". Or someone dealing with hoarding that "the past really matters, and we need to preserve it". Not everyone is the same, so one person's 'healthy response/behavior' is another person's pre-meltdown signal. We aren't talking about putting Malcolm X on medicine to destroy his spirit.

Of course, if comments in this and the other thread are read carefully, it is obvious that no one (here, sure, I guess there are some 'Brave New World' fans out there) desires erasing, or redacting anger, or calling it a weakness, or failing of people who get angry, or saying that one or another person "is superior", if you are reading a message of "emotion/anger free superiority" in any of the comments, it may be a serious misreading of those comments. Read Decani's comment again, referring to the parts talking about the struggle. People are talking about coping with something that impinges on living their life; not breaking the spirit of social activists.

"Anger is a powerful emotion. If it isn’t handled appropriately, it may have destructive results for both you and your loved ones. Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments, physical fights, physical abuse, assault and self-harm. On the other hand, well-managed anger can be a useful emotion that motivates you to make positive changes".
posted by infinite intimation at 7:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, I am merely saying that the absolutism of "anger in any form is never necessary" was not needed to make the original point which I don't disagree with otherwise.

Again, I think there's really a small issue being debated outed of otherwise agreement. This is metatalk and you put a plate of beans in front of me, what you want I should do?

I totally get what you're saying infinite intimation and I could misunderstand you but it seems you might agree that "anger is never necessary" was not the best wording to make the point.

I had to work really hard to work through the fact that I had very internalized anger after dealing with a guy screaming in my face every day for a year. I was very nice and polite and eventually I was like, no you know what? Fuck this, I AM pissed and it's ok to be pissed.

There IS a lot of anger shaming in this culture of people working in social justice or standing up for themselves so it's a very relevant point that people not all stand around and cheer "Yeah people who ever have anger and don't make it shut up are automatically harming themselves and worse people!" and yes that's how a lot of comments sound to me. If you're going to tell me I'm harming myself for having anger in reaction to being harmed I DO think that's hurtful and wrong and potential harmful to people who listen to you and take it to heart like my former self that thought I should never ever have anger.
posted by xarnop at 7:58 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


There is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes.

I have a sort of ongoing fascination with this because I find it difficult to imagine. I bet it's nice. Or maybe difficult.

I was talking to my sister about Thatcher and MetaFilter this evening, we get together about once a month and hang out. She was wondering if there was something about Thatcher that she hadn't understood because people seemed just beside themselves now that she'd died. I sort of explained what I understood to be the very problematic aspects of her regime and why they made people so fuming mad and we talked a little bit about anger, and rage and how that can work its way into wrath.

And we both grew up in the same very very angry household where we were mostly safe but where we were afraid constantly that someone would hurt us (more emotionally that physically, but it was just unpleasant, I've talked about it in AskMe some) and it sucked. And we both grew up into adult women who, somehow, just sort of lost a lot of our anger but also parts of our tolerance for other people's anger at the same time. She works for the state police in an admin role and this comes up sometimes, about revenge or rage, when you say you're a pacifist (as she is in many ways) people always ask shit like "would you kill Hitler" and all that. And I'm not speaking for anyone else--people choose the way they choose and that's their own ethical thing--but it was sort of neat sitting around with my middle aged sister realized that we'd gotten out from our terribly angry childhoods and turned into people where the anger stopped with us, didn't continue and radiate to other people.

I totally get that everyone's got to make their own decisions, but I'm not so concerned with anger as a tool for social change (where it seems to work decently well at least sometimes) but more as anger as a sort of passively inhabiting virus that gets passed along even if people don't want to do that, or they don't even know they're doing it. I think to too many people anger has a direct and pretty tough to divide link with violence and it's hard to remain dispassionate about that even though logically it makes a bunch of sense to do that.

I made my sister promise that if something terrible happened to me at the hands of another person she'd do something, but it couldn't be violent and it couldn't really harm them, just be annoying. So we agreed that if someone murdered me that she'd forward their mail really really far away.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Any emotion, not just anger, can be used to abuse another, especially children. Yes, even love.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2013


Do you want to know my secret?

I'M ALWAYS ANGRY.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:12 PM on April 12, 2013


Anger is relative and situational. My son had to go to the doctor today. Allergic conjunctivitis. He's OK, but his eyes swelled up like Arnold at the end of Total Recall. In the middle of it all, waiting for the doctor, I check my email. My boss had sent me a steaming pile of nonsense to deal with.

Funny, I thought. This isn't affecting me in the slightest.

My son's eyes popping out of his skull had kinda body-checked any anger I might have had.

I'll have to remember this feeling, because it felt very useful.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 PM on April 12, 2013


I like my anger. It gets me into interesting predicaments.
posted by nacho fries at 10:53 PM on April 12, 2013


She works for the state police in an admin role and this comes up sometimes, about revenge or rage, when you say you're a pacifist (as she is in many ways) people always ask shit like "would you kill Hitler" and all that.

I'm probably a little too tired to add much else to the conversation, but I wanted to say, I too find it interesting that people resort to talking about anger in larger social contexts in order to disprove the universality of my point. I would ask, is this hypothesizing really all that insightful?

Let me provide the following illustration. I have strong political views. I cannot believe how fucked up this and that is. I consider things deeply and am very concerned. I like spending time arguing a point and building persuasive arguments. I know of death and suffering all around the world.

And yet, in terms of action, how political of an animal am I? What do I do to ease the pain? To be completely honest, I barely vote. I prefer to talk. Why don't I run for office? Why don't I do more to help my community? Why do I complain about the condition of the streets in my neighborhood, or the rampant homelessness and drug addiction in my community, but essentially do nothing about any of it? Good luck catching me patching up a pothole on my day off. It's an interesting situation. I have a natural tendency to be over-involved in global matters, and yet I am under-involved on the community level.

So that when I am in action, when I am doing community service and living in the solution, I'm changing the world. It's not much, but it's something, I do know that involves me coming from a good place.

So it seems tricky for me to discuss the merits of something like justified anger in a larger social context. In conversation, I would quickly concede that anger at social injustice is both self-evident and justified. And yet, I am not entirely sure what it is that I'm saying.

The larger social context in which we operate is a human construct that is very complicated and far from ideal - and the post-modernists would add, consisting of rules and traditions that are completely arbitrary. We don't, for example, have a government built on love, but rather a system of checks and balances. We could, but we don't. People commit crimes and we put them in jail. We don't all live in one big commune, but rather in countries with competing economic and political interests. We seem to be a competitive organism. We step on each other's toes. If all it took was a positive spiritual attitude and a calm demeanor to live freely and justly, then the Tibetans would be doing just that. Are they simply not angry enough?

So I think the "look at anger in the larger social context" calculus fails, not because it isn't a sensible thing to say, but because we live in such an imperfect world that to say anger can be justified in such a context is really just a testament to how fucked up things are and have always been. Social justice is actually not that impressive of a idea. It is fleeting, always ebbing and flowing in one direction or another. And can we not agree that the pursuit of social justice in one form or another is the source of most human conflict? Why do we need to fight each other for such a thing in the first place?

The problem is we do not live in complete and utter human harmony. What if we lived in a society where we were all fully invested in each other? I know, crazy. I too can barely wrap my mind around it. But I would venture to say that some of the great spiritual leaders of the 20th century entertained such a possibility, and most were hated for it. If we lived and aspired to such harmony as a species, think about how amazing that would be, and it would at least be more clear that, on a global scale, anger is not necessary there as well.
posted by phaedon at 5:01 AM on April 13, 2013


There are different kinds of anger, and lumping them all together may cause confusion. Maybe the type of anger that motivates social change could be more accurately construed as rage against oppression that motivates self-sacrifice on behalf of removing the oppression.

The difference with game-changers like MLK et al is that they are able to channel anger into something productive. Dissolute rage fixes nothing. Resolute determination is the proper response to one's own anger at injustice. I practice a lot of the same techniques as phaedon in my quest for emotional health, and it's such a better way to live than with the blind, inchoate rage and fear that drove all my motivations when I was young and dumb. One can stand up for what is right without screaming or smashing, and one can live at peace with one's emotions. Inner turmoil is just so exhausting.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:31 AM on April 13, 2013


Yeah, being set off by every little thing would be exhausting. Or being unable to resist the angry urge to harm others would be horrible. But having access to the full dynamic range of anger is something I want to preserve in myself -- it is a feature, not a flaw.

Anger in women is often pathologized. I don't buy that. I don't see anger as a trait I need to overcome or "work on" or anything like that. It's part of my operating system.
posted by nacho fries at 1:57 PM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that response. It reminds me of yesterday... I was in a parking lot and the guy in front of me flipped off the driver in front of him for taking too long to turn left. I thought to myself, "really? Are you in that much of a hurry? Does it really warrant an F-you because a few extra seconds passed by?" I find that patiently waiting without getting angry to be much less stressful.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2013


Being patient in traffic is an excellent superpower to develop. My trick is to flash back to idle hours spent exiting parking lots after Dead shows (I wasn't a Dead follower, but had friends who were, so I went along for the anthropological interest). When I can tap into that memory, I just look around at my current-day comrades on the road, and imagine them doing the best they can with a head full of hallucinogens and a belly full of parking lot veggie burrito (you know the one), tripping balls and hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.

We're all just doing the best we can. Be cool, maaan.
posted by nacho fries at 2:27 PM on April 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


We're all just doing the best we can.

We all gotta duck when the shit hits the fan.
Doobity-do-wop-wop-say-whut-again.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ahh yeah, a mosh pit sounds good right about now.
posted by nacho fries at 6:27 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ahh yeah, a mosh pit sounds good right about now.

What? You're crazy. You should be institutionalized.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:39 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still think there's a definitional problem here. Anger as in "being upset about being wronged" which is one definition of anger is perfectly reasonable. That doesn't mean screaming and wanting to smash things and hating everyone is the same thing. Most things can be solved by creative thinking, access to more resources to create better solutions and dualistic things.

I.e. looking at the needs of all parties involved and brainstorming creative solutions using tools, technology or simply new ideas and seeking to ensure all parties are getting their needs met.

When one person is stepping on another persons toes and that person can't get out from under, screaming and shoving can become a best course of action when asking nicely fails. When you torture a bull eventually it's fuming and this is just a natural instinctual response to excruciating pain and complete helplessness to stop it despite desperate attempts to stop it. We live in a finite world and some people who are resorting to anger may literally be trapped without resources to come up with a way to protect themselves from the harm of others actions. Frequently, if there are any resources available at all, it is best to calm down and seek a peaceful solution and way of relating.

It's always worth seeking a peaceful solution that respects the needs of everyone involved. I completely agree with those who value this way of relating to others and, for example, like many of the methods involved in non-violent communication of examining your own needs, reframing from attacking to asking in a peaceful manner, creative problem solving...

I guess what I mean is, all of that makes sense, but I believe in self defense and if expressing anger at someone might be part of a plan of self defense (which it CAN be especially when you zero power to get through to the person nicely) I think it's perfectly fair game. I also think expressing and acknowledging anger can be part of letting it dissolve. There is a difference between expressing and validating the feelings behind anger and CULTIVATING anger. Two different things. Cultivate love, but it's ok to comfort and understand your own feelings that include anger. I also agree that being around anger is toxic.

It's worth considering when what you want from someone else is for them to function well, that if you damage their emotional well being with your insults and rage- you might be making them LESS capable of behaving the way you want. Most people's well being and functioning worsen when being screamed at and hated. So it's a very ineffective way get people to be capable of being healthier or more functional. Often we assume bad behavior is a choice, but it's often just a faction of the person already struggling. Screaming at them won't help with that. But if you just want them to get the fuck of your foot, screaming might help.
posted by xarnop at 6:11 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


i'd flag the comment, but i know it won't do any good. that comment has a lot of jedi mind-trick/rhetorical twisting, which i don't care to fully explain 100+ comments into a metatalk post. but, as an example, i'll just make this point:

"There is no situation that necessitates anger"

this is a claim that can't be proven true or false. you might as well say "there is no situation that necessitates hamburger" because it will make just as much sense.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:07 PM on April 14, 2013


How about "There is no situation that necessitates poking your own finger into your eyeball until it pops"?

IMHO that's a true thing to say. I'm sure I can work really hard and come up with an edge case but well, I'd be working really hard to come up with an edge case which is less "conversing" and more "trying to assign logic values to English sentences."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about "There is no situation that necessitates poking your own finger into your eyeball until it pops"?

Help me understand. Do you think that most instances of feeling anger more or less amount to the self abuse you've described? The reason I'm curious is that I would have agreed to that once, but now I don't.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:19 AM on April 15, 2013


There is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes.

I have a sort of ongoing fascination with this because I find it difficult to imagine. I bet it's nice. Or maybe difficult.


The thought of a life like that's completely alien to me.

I've just been thinking of the long hours when my son was born, it was a very rough labor, and I spent most of it very concerned. Luckily there were plenty of little tasks I could do so I wasn't just standing around panicking, but I sure felt a strong emotion for way longer than 20 min. straight. For that matter, the first time I took the kid fishing last year, that was a couple of hours of absolute contentment.

I guess it's just one more reminder that as much as folks is just folks, we all have different lives, and what's good advice and true for me may not be good or true for you. We're an adaptable species.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:44 AM on April 15, 2013



"there is literally no strong feeling I've had that's lasted more than 20 minutes."

A pig's orgasm lasts for thirty. Just sayin'.
posted by mippy at 9:55 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


How about "There is no situation that necessitates poking your own finger into your eyeball until it pops"?
Help me understand. Do you think that most instances of feeling anger more or less amount to the self abuse you've described? The reason I'm curious is that I would have agreed to that once, but now I don't.


No. I was just responding to the idea that the construction "There is no situation that necessitates X" was meaningless.

My own feeling is that emotions are part of being human. I don't like my anger but it will always be a part of who I am.

However as I said upthread I believe that what we water grows. Leaving anger unchecked or taking the attitude that it is a good thing will result in more anger more often -- something that has well known physical and psychological downsides.

So yeah, I do believe people who are habitually enraged are doing continual self-harm, but nothing so dramatic as popping an eyeball.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:13 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, I see. I'm reading this thread thinking about the damage that can come from never even expressing one's anger at all, which doesn't seem to be what most other people are discussing. It's like everyone's saying "let it flow, but let it flow away", but I'm talking about getting the pump to work in the first place.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:59 AM on April 15, 2013


I'm talking about getting the pump to work in the first place.

I had a problem with that side of it for years and in a lot of ways still do. After years of work I can get angry immediately when appropriate, but only when it's a relatively small thing. Hit my car while texting and I'll get pissed at you. Ram my car on purpose and it will be six months of expressing patient understanding before one day I go "Hey, fuck you!".

Funny thing though, when I look back at my behavior over the six months it will be pretty clear that I was pissed. I just couldn't cope with feeling it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:44 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feel the thing, and let it go. Anger included.
posted by twiggy32 at 2:56 PM on April 15, 2013


Well, Balsdelb quoted Mr. Rogers in the Boston Marathon thread, and damned if he didn't get it just right:
Angry feelings are part of being human, especially when we feel powerless. One of the most important messages we can give our children is, "It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to hurt ourselves or others." Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can help them find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we'll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the worlds' future peacemakers -- the world's future "helpers."
posted by benito.strauss at 3:12 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


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