Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman
I’ve never worn anger well, especially the self-righteous kind. Last year I was in a park outside Raleigh, where a beautiful plot of farmland was being developed and new McMansion owners were shooing hikers away from parking on the street. I saw a white plastic Wal-Mart bag caught in the brush along the trail. Indignant, I went to grab it, muttering like a lady in need of a tin foil hat: Of course it’s a Wal-Mart bag. Of course these people don’t care about parks and trash and…
I bent down to grab the offending bag. Three thorns from a vicious plant embedded themselves in the cartilage of my left ear. I began to bleed. I could not extract myself. My dog was confused–why aren’t we moving?!–and, hunched, I had to start jumproping the leash as he darted in various directions. Moreover, the Wal-Mart bag was dirty and wet and had probably been used for pet waste. Eventually, after minutes of careful maneuvering and skin tears, I freed myself and shuffled back to my car, embarrassed.
Whenever I feel like going off, I remind myself to slow down, or risk maiming my ear. Or sounding like an idiot. Most of us aren’t at our best when we’re truly angry. (Except maybe Alanis Morrisette. Cue “You Oughta Know.”) There’s a slight blinding of judgment, a tongue-tied fury that hacks away at our eloquence, an ugly obstinance. With anger often comes a streak of unleashed hubris; our ego masquerades as intellect. It’s human nature to believe we’re right and to pursue our rectitude with single-mindedness, to arduously feed our bias and seek company in the friends who agree with us or are too afraid not to.
I don’t want my inflamed ego speaking for me in the world, even on an anonymous message board.
The problem is, there are so many things one could be angry about these days: Ke$ha, politics, toxic oil spills, cat hoarders. On the literary scene there is the almost imminent death of print, the texty teenagers who hand in formal papers with “u” in them instead of “you,” a bad review of your work. Or no review at all.
Furthermore, technology makes it so easy to share our anger. Read any message board or comments section at the bottom of a political article or cultural critique to assure yourself that anger is alive and accessible. (I was going to include examples…but the good ones are just so incendiary, and they’re prevalent enough for you to find without looking.)
People, it seems, are pissed off. And an easy array of social networking tools, blogs, and comments sections lets us spew our venom at will. Does the internet really need more angry noise?