Why I Get Angry

I get angry about some things.

And I don’t just mean ‘a little bit pissed off’.

I mean spitting, hissing, frothing, screaming, wanting-to-hit-something furious.

And I’ve only just figured out where the anger comes from, when people talk about things like how gays should burn in hell, or that feminism is evil, or that there is no such thing as racism in Australia.

It’s because I am fucking terrified.

I find it deeply, deeply frightening that the human brain can fail so spectacularly, can spit out such utter illogical bullshit. It truly scares me, because I like to think that we as a species are better than that.

And all of a sudden my fear goes through this metamorphosis, this  strange alchemy that so often happens when we are confronted with something frightening, and it crystallises into anger. It’s a rage that makes my hands tremble and my stomach feel nauseous. It makes my throat block up and my eyes sting. It’s the left-over adrenaline surging through my body, adrenaline that spikes because my very self has been threatened. It is self-defensive anger.

… Which doesn’t necessarily make it misplaced or undeserved, of course. But still, it’s strange to realise something that I think has always been true about myself but I’d never quite put my finger on before. So thank you, I guess, Internet People, for being so fucking scary that you led me to a personal epiphany. Much obliged!

“But why do you bother responding to those no-hopers? Why do you get stirred up?” I can hear some people say. “They’re fundamentalists/rednecks/idiots, you will never change their minds.”

I respond because of natural selection. I have been endangered – okay, perhaps not my life itself, but my basic understanding of the framework of the world (that people are generally decent, and moderately intelligent) has been violently assaulted. And even if it will not make a difference, biology wins out. I instinctively (and furiously) defend. I think, sometimes, that my blood might actually fizz with it. It is the primal scream of SIWOTI Syndrome.

Xkcd does it again.

I could write a whole ‘nother blog post titled ‘Why Anger is a Legitimate Reaction To Things That Are Clearly Bullshit’. In debates these days, people tend to treat anger as something that should be avoided at all costs, almost like it is something embarrassing. Like if you’re angry about something, then you shouldn’t be taken seriously. Like we should all be calm and civil and smile and nod when people say things that are blatantly ridiculous.

But when someone makes some textbook racist statement (“if you don’t like it, then go back to where you came from”), then I believe that loudly-voiced disgust is a perfectly valid response – maybe the only valid response. Let’s face it, if you’re not outraged by an outrageously prejudiced statement, then you are probably doing something wrong. (On the topic of righteous anger, Greta Christina comes to mind as a great example.)

As I’ve been writing up this post I’ve also been sporadically continuing the facebook debate on racism that I was involved in, the one that sparked my epiphany. I considered mentioning in this post that I was just waiting for somebody to point out the fact that I was female, and use it to devalue my anger (the classic “Oh, she’s just moody cause she’s a woman!” gambit). And I thought to myself, nah, that’s unecessary. That just makes me look like I’m feeling sorry for myself, playing the victim. It’s too much of a stretch to bring it up in this particular scenario.

Welp, my friends, someone just referred to me as a “softly lunatic feminist”.


You laugh or you cry, I guess. Or you play prejudice bingo! That’s always fun. My views are also apparently less valid because I have a University degree. From Narnia. (Because I “don’t live in the real world”… geddit?) And everybody knows that The Intelligentsia are evil!

Anyway, generally speaking, I guess the trick is to let the anger be a fire but not a poison.

I am still working on this trick but I will definitely let the internet know when I figure it out.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marquis of Cups
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 00:57:59

    😦 Some people… And my grandparents get upset when anyone says redneck around them. They’re farmers, and consider being a redneck very respectable. Also, they are great people. So I can’t refute.

    The inflammatory degredation is getting really, really out of hand though. I’d fight anyone who called me a redneck. With a pitchfork. And a torch.


  2. Daniel Ralph
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 09:23:54

    This is how I feel every time I read the comments at the bottom of pretty much any major news outlets articles. It seems the people who are the most vocal, are often also the people who most push me towards a total lack of faith in humanity.
    And speaking of Facebook debates, one thing that really annoys me is when someone posts something that starts a debate, specifically asking for alternative views (Such as “Why would anyone think that taking prescription drugs every day is normal?”) and when they are clearly losing the debate, rather that admit fault, delete the entire post and send an angry personal message about “wall ownership”. (Yes I’m referring to a very specific instance, although the same person has done it again since.)
    The only thing I find more infuriating than the utter idiocy that people can spout, is the censorship of rational debate.


  3. Nick
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 10:54:43

    “I find it deeply, deeply frightening that the human brain can fail so spectacularly, can spit out such utter illogical bullshit. It truly scares me, because I like to think that we as a species are better than that.”

    News flash for you, we’re not.

    Whether you blame it on the ‘selfish gene’ from an evolutionary perspective, ‘the fall’ from the traditionally religious perspective, or simply accept that it’s just human nature, we as a species fail so spectacularly it defies imagination

    Case in point: You (and I’m not having a go at you specifically here because this works equally well if you replace ‘you’ with ‘me’) are perfectly aware that the world is at something of a precipice. Decisions made now can probably prevent what will quite possibly be the greatest humanitarian crisis the world has ever faced. There is a very real threat that if we continue to spew greenhouse gas into the atmosphere it will begin a domino effect in the natural environment that we will be unable to prevent (world warms, ice melts, the greenhouse gasses trapped by the ice are released, world warms more, more ice melts etc…). I’ve not recently read the stats on the extent of the crisis that would be caused by a rise of a couple of metres in sea level, but they are frightening. Whether it happens 20 years from now or 220 isn’t relevant, the fact is there is plenty of evidence to suggest that our actions now could still make a difference.

    Now tearing yourself away from your (my) computer screen, have a wander around the house. Note in passing the television, the fridge, the oven, the microwave, (grab a dictionary cause you’re going to need it in a second), the assorted appliances used to keep your house clean and comfortable, the cars, the hot water tank… Now think about not just the power they’re using now but the energy and raw materials that went in to making them in the first place. Now open that dictionary you grabbed and look up ‘sustainability’.

    Go to the fridge, grab a drink, a bite to eat. Now consider the number of children who through no greater crime than being born won’t eat today or drink clean water. Now look up world visions website and work out how many of them might have done so with just the money you earned at work yesterday, last week, last year…
    There are many examples I could use.

    As a member of the “intelligensia”, thus being more aware of these things than most, how “fucking terrified” of yourself are you right now? Consider the mental gymnastics your brain must go through each and every day to allow you to sleep at night.

    I’m not saying the ignorant or vindictive remarks of racists, zealots and chauvinists are trivial or not worth rallying against . But realise at least that your (my) brain is equally capable/guilty of the same “illogical bullshit” of these “no-hopers” that have your blood boiling.

    Now think of notebooks and shiny baubles cause this post has been somewhat depressing :p


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