Angry people: a new perspective?

No one can deny there’s a lot of free-floating anger and rudeness in society today - even if most of it is needless, pointless, and encouraged by the isolation granted us on teh toobz, even as they widen communication.

I’m guilty of it. You probably are too, unless you’re a paragon of serene self-discipline. The times we live in and all that call for us to hurt and be hurt in ways that are particularly gratuitous. Time to tie on the napkin and getting ready to eat our ever increasing RDA of shit from life, and maybe hand a doss of it back now and then so we don’t go completely batty.

Anyway, someone posted something at this forum about rudeness and its causes. (Note: This forum appears to be woo in nature, and I don’t apologize for the source.) That post, below, got me to thinking.

It strikes me that that statement could apply to both sides of the coin. Which prompts me to ask:

-By and large in society today, is it angry, rude people themselves who are overprotected, spoiled, immature, and sheltered from the world?
It seems obvious that those qualities can make a person want to piss on others without compunction or regard. But there’s another possibility…

-Are most angry, rude people just bitching about other people who are overprotected, spoiled, immature, and sheltered from the world?
When you read angry rants, there’s very often a figure of the “pussy,” “snowflake,” or similar weak-sauce individual who is cast as the villain. Is this just a case of transference, when we pin our bad points on others to feel superior? Or might it be, often, an honest and righteous reaction - just bringing the real world whoopass?

So what do you think? Do we actually need some of this high level of rudeness? Is there a sector of people today - NOT the morons, assholes, and malevolent fuckups we all hate, but well-meaning folks who might just be a bit woo, naïve, babied, or thoughtless - for whom a public beatdown might actually be constructive?

Or is it all basically a case of overprotected, spoiled, sheltered, immature people asserting their right to piss in the pool of public discourse and fart up the air inside all our heads - in every walk of life from kindergarten to Congress - who only think they have a clue about the workings of the world?

My impression is we have advanced enough as a society that a near perfect, stress/trouble free life seems on the horizon but is still out of reach. And I think some of the anger comes from people thinking we have achieved that goal when we haven’t. Louis CK called them ‘white people problems’ since when you lack more serious things to worry about you obsess over trivialities.

In my experience the meanest, rudest people are the ones who on some level are desperate for the world to be perfect, then find out it isn’t (full of crime, imperfection, dysfunction, etc) and have a conniption. So I lean more towards the rude people themselves being unrealistic.

There is a lot of free-floating anger and rudeness about these days. And it’s easier to blow off steam and vent today than it was in the past. A written letter just doesn’t have the same effect of our near real time message boards that span the globe and allow people from all over not just a given country but from all over the world to interject their opinions and assert their pet theories. In the past you probably only interacted with someone face to face, and in face to face confrontations one must be a bit more circumspect, unless one likes getting into fist fights or worse all the time.

I believe that people are more complex than this simple ‘people are either overprotected, spoiled, immature, and sheltered from the world or reacting to people who are overprotected, spoiled, immature, and sheltered from the world’. To me, someone saying this is trying to pigeon hole their opponents in order to dehumanize them and take away their complexity…and thus, make their arguments less worthy because they are rude. Not to bust on your link, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the woo-minded are getting a bit gun shy because they are increasingly coming under fire for their assertions and world view, and are increasingly being asked to give some sort of proof that whatever woo they are into has some basis in reality. Asserting that it does by fiat or anecdote just doesn’t cut it, at least on on boards like this one. And I think the rudeness comes from frustration that the person isn’t providing what is requested, continues the same line of discussion that has already been discounted, and then the discussion continues over multiple threads as new posters just have to come in and talk about the same stuff that’s already been beaten to death. Look at the 9/11 threads for example…they didn’t start off at nuclear rude level red alpha. It was a progression as 'dopers who believe that stuff bring up the same old arguments, and new guys come in with a ‘new’ video to talk about the same stuff over and over again…and fail to understand the data presented them, while also failing to provide any themselves. And the frustration level ratchets up a notch higher (luckily we haven’t have one of those in a while so it might be calmer now)…which, in turn makes people more rude.

There is also a bit of one-ups-manship going on around here, where people try to be clever and funny by being rude to people who espouse the woo, or espouse completely off the wall political, economic or religious philosophies. I think that everyone wants to be in the cool 'dopers club, and one of the ways to do that is to be witty, charming, and rude while not crossing over the line and getting Mod smacked. This seems more true in The Pit than in GD, but it happens here too.

That said, I still think that people are more complex and have more complex reasons they are seemingly more rude today than in the past. The technology enables us to let out our inner asshole a lot more, which acts as a steam vent for all the stuff we’d normally keep buried inside (only to come out catastrophically during some epic blowout).

Anyway, just my take.


I know several people with “real problems” that are, well, jerks. Any nurse will tell you stories about amazingly rude patients that have serious health issues, for example. Indeed, I think a lot of rudeness I see comes from people who are stressed out about big issues freaking out over some minor problem just to vent.

So no, I don’t think being over-protected serves very well as a very good general explanation of anger and rudeness.

I think there’s situational rudeness that stems from stress, no matter what your station in life, as **Simplicio **points out. And some people are just jerks.

I think there’s another layer of rudeness, though, that does stem from privilege. I most notice that kind when it’s absent: for example, with the recent snowstorm in Chicago, where neighbors I’ve never met suddenly helped me dig out, and vice-versa. Or after 9-11, when suddenly people on the bus where hugging each other, handing out Kleenex and just being there to listen to one another grieve. And yet next week, those same neighbors are likely to be back to ignoring me, or shouting at each other for dogs pooping on their lawn, or other petty stuff.

On the other hand, it’s not like people who are starving or deprived are particularly peaceful. Look at Egypt right now, or Darfur or Ghana.

I think it’s best articulated as a matter of extremes. When people are very poor off, or very wealthy (by world standards, not by US standards), then they’re more likely to be mean. The poor because they’re desperate, the rich because they’re entitled and frustrated when they don’t get their way.

Modest struggle in a prosperous society seems to bring out the best in people, though.

Here’s a real-world instance: Do you feel older generations are teaching a life lesson, or just soothing their own resentment, when they bitch out younger ones for addressing issues others are resigned to?

A good example is all the shitfests by older generations about Gen Y’s work ethic, or lack of it. The resentment - on one side, that the young might have it a little bit easier, or on the other, that it might actually be time to acknowledge they have it harder in some ways - is palpable. You can easily picture it playing out in naked aggression on the job.

There’s a common saw (attributed wrongly to Churchill): “If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain.” I think many people believe you’re crazy not to be an idealist at 20 and a cynic by 40.

Another instance: Employed people ranking on unemployed people. (Not welfare layabouts, just everyday folks.) Can anyone identify with that? From either side?

I blame Hollywood. Since the eighties at least, practically every action movie hero has been a rude, crude dick, and we’ve come to accept insulting people as being the cool thing to do. In other words, the anti-hero has become the most default type of hero. Nearly every comedy lead on TV as well - Seinfeld just accelerated the trend. What could be funnier than making people around you feel like crap?

I see no reason why being cool or funny has to equate being a jerk. A real hero should be strong enough to be a gentleman and respect people’s feelings.

I blame Hollywood and politics.

Not to make this a single-gender issue, but anger is by and large a male preserve. It has a deep place in our hearts, close to manly things like strength, effectiveness and righteous action.

However, sometime in the 70s or maybe the 80s, the Man won out over the Gentleman in the myth of heroism. Since then, being a gentleman no longer means being a man.

For the most part, I don’t feel all that angry. Life just goes along as usual. Am I isolated, or just lucky?

Yeah, but it’s still pretty freakin funny.:smiley:

The reason is that the people the hero makes “feel like crap” are jerks most people hate anyway. The officious boss. A petty beurocrat. Some pompous maitre d in a restuarant. I don’t have a problem with that sort of comedy.

What I have a problem with is the new “reality show” style of anger and rudeness we have been seeing for the past 10 years. Basically, it’s just selfish, childish, entitled people who have somehow learned they can get what they want by making a big enough spectacle of themselves.

I don’t think Gen Y has a bad work ethic. But most people my age (late 30s) seem to feel that they are badly socialized. For example, crying about “having it harder” and “naked aggression on the job” comes to mind. Analysts out of school seem to think they should be treated like delicate geniuses when they are there to shut the fuck up and learn how to do the job.

It all comes down to a sense of entitlement. Everyone thinks everything should be handed to them - jobs, fame, money, relationships, whatever - and they shouldn’t have to work at it. And of course the real world doesn’t work like that so they get angry and lash out.

This won’t surprise you, smitty, but I can’t quite see it your way. Young b-school grads entering the financial industry are liable to be cocky - the cream of the crop as far as ambition goes. As such, they could easily bounce back from being taken down a peg or three.

What’s going on in the current economy is more widespread and at the same time, more insidious. People in the middle and working classes are learning, while dragged kicking and screaming I imagine, not to put their trust in the American dream. And they don’t always care to own up to it.

So it must enrages them to hear those slightly lower down or further up asking, “Is this the best we can do?” What saps, talking about community and caring when all there really is is big gov and big biz - and neither’s worth your faith, but only one will feed you. Shut up for cry-yi, they think, and start focusing on your own survival.

Isn’t that what the internet is for?

Only the overprotected and sheltered have the luxury of spouting their (OK - OUR) anger and frustration where everyone can hear it. What could possibly be a greater sign of prosperity than loud public complaints about our fatness or some throw off comment about Micheal Jackson. One thing - loud public complaints about the the pettiness of other’s complaints. Meta-complaining.

IMO, it is human nature to bitch about things. It’s how we pass the time. Those of us who don’t need to complain about the government taking our food and the army killing our families will find something else. It’s why I come to the dope.

One of the reasons I come to the dope is to find out what OTHER people are bitching about. Then I decide if it’s something I care about too. Usually it isn’t. But it’s fun to read anyway.

You mean you don’t find it at all poisonous to the world we live in?

It’s human nature to bitch all right, but I maintain it’s different today. It’s like so many things where there’s no us involved, no community. It’s people like me vs people like you. And there’s a lot less talk about what people like me might have done wrong or could do right - and a lot more about YOU.

It’s a national blame game that people are actually starting to coalesce around and feel falsely, tribally empowered about. That’s some scary shit, when you think about it. Can we afford not to? Then again, can we afford to think about it?

Well, I can see that angry people on the internet soapbox can be poisonous to the world. They may attract more angry, disaffected people to them. Isn’t that balanced out (I hope it is) by rational, non-angry people who can educate these angry groups? And isn’t the ability to air all of our anger and frustrations, some of which are real, in public ultimately a good thing? Isolation is a better Petri dish than a public forum for the false, tribal empowerment you describe IMO.

I feel like I see more people complaining, and being rude, about more trivial stuff than years ago but it’s the same amount of rudeness. It’s rude people being rude.

I agree with everything but “…it’s different today.” I think in the past, people were perhaps more dependent on their physical neighbors, but I don’t know that it means they were any nicer, overall. Certainly tribalism is old as the hills, and while there was “us” to defend from “them”, there was a whole lot more local community control over individual members of the tribe, as well. There was/is a lot of social pressure to conform, and little patience with those who were different. Born into a village of potters? *You’d better like clay, son, because only those *barbarians *hunt for food, we make pots and *trade for it, ya hear? Like civilized people. Harrumph. Someone beat some sense into the boy.

I mean, how far back was it different? Children have *always *been rude and disobedient. Society has *always *been going to hell in a handbasket.

Of course, there is an actual point of actual decline, or London would still be part of the Roman Empire. But I don’t think that point is observable from within it, only with historical hindsight. People’s natural tendency to “cry wolf” about societal decline and peoples’ skewed view and nostalgia for their own childhoods make it impossible for the layperson to truly differentiate between true decline and grumpy old men grumping.

Really it probably started in the 60s with all the dirty hippies. In all seriousness, the 60s, with all the equal rights issues and Vietnam and whatnot were a turbulant time. People started to distrust many of the institutions they had taken for granted. There was a feeling that much of the idealic cornball 50s idealogy of what it meant to be a “gentleman” was often times thought to be a holdover from a system of institutionalized racism, classism and sexism.

Except that seems to be something I’ve heard since the 70s. Fule prices, income disparity, job layoffs and closings. I don’t know that anything really changes that much.

The culture of individualizing societys problems* and vast economical differences. That would be my guess at the major causes of “free-floating anger”.

  • Poor health and unemployment would be good examples.

I’m only posting to note that I don’t think anger and rudeness in society are a new thing. Read some court transcripts from decades or even centuries in the past. Some percentage of society is always going to be angry or rude. It’s also important to remember that people have different opinions as to what is rude. Seeing as violent crime has been decreasing for the past 20 years, to the lowest it’s been in sixty years, and considerably lower than rates during say, the Great Depression or Medieval England, I’d say that people in our society either have less anger or are getting better at controlling it than people in the past.