I know I'm not the only angry person right now. There is an electric, seething, undercurrent everywhere. Social media, the nightly news, just driving down the street. Everyone is so mad.
And the fuel to this Anger Fire seems to just be getting fuel-ier and fiery-er. Tweet about being pissed off? You get a bunch of RTs and favorites and/or a bunch of trolls calling you a whore (making everyone more angry). Post a rant on Facebook and people gleefully fight with you (making everyone more angry), or agree with you by posting heinous proof about just how right you are (still making everyone more angry).
Everyday there are email petitions: Tell People How Much You Hate This Horrible Thing! Do Not Stand By While This Horrible Thing Happens!
And email instructions: "Have a Horrible Relative? Here is How to Tell Them They are Horrible!" "Hate Everything? Give Us Money So We Can Buy Ads Telling the World How Stupid It Is!"
Does any of this work? The petitions? The emails? Does it make anyone feel better to throw $10 at a group celebrating/castigating a cause? Does that even help? Do you get the same brain-soothing chemical reaction when you sign a petition as you do when you get 59 likes on a post about how much you hate everything and everyone? Does that achieve anything? At all? Ever?
It's no wonder people are getting killed. It's no wonder there is an insidious and pervasive fear in this country. It's a fucking tinderbox. If people like me – who can usually laugh off anything – are angrily honking in traffic and blocking people on Twitter, how are the other people feeling?
I'm not proud to be so angry. I'm not proud that the tinderbox has gotten under my skin. I'm not proud that my first impulse these days is to think the worst of people. I'm not proud that I've clammed up on my own social media, afraid to talk about the horrible things happening; afraid I will just get too angry; afraid of enraging and engaging with the worst of humanity. It goes against everything I've ever been taught or ever believed. I don't know what to do with these gross feelings. I don't know how to channel them. I want to shout at people STOP MAKING ME HATE YOU. And THAT is certainly not a healthy outlook.
I just see so. much. judging. everyday. And it seems so counter-productive. If you think everyone is doing everything wrong, can you maybe do more than just tell them they're wrong? Educate. But don't educate in a holier-than-thou-you-stupid-idiot way, educate with patience and kindness. With creativity. With empathy. Is that even possible any more? Do people even know what the words "patience" and "kindness" and "creativity" and "empathy" mean?
"You celebrate diversity? Well, you just used the wrong pronoun!"
"Oh, were you abused? You weren't abused enough for it to matter!"
"You love women? You denigrate them by calling them beautiful!"
"You support working mothers? Well good job insulting moms who stay home!"
"You're angry that cops kill black men? Step off, you're protesting the wrong way!"
It's too much. It's all too much. Even when we're trying to be nice, there's vitriol. What is happening that makes people act like this? Why does everyone have to be a hero or a villain? Is there just so much hurt in the world that no one can say "Thank you for trying to help, that's really awesome. Here's an even better way you can help [FILL IN APPROPRIATE HELPING MEASURE]? Or is it just easier to yell, "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG THEREFORE YOU ARE HORRIBLE" and huff and puff about it in some corner of Twitter?
I see so many people right now who think they're being heroic and helpful and really they aren't helping at all. They are just mouthing off, making more noise, adding fuel to the fire. There is no trying to educate or be educated. I mean, I guess I understand why, to some extent. It's not like anyone ever, ever, ever says, "Oh, I'm sorry, did you just point out how I'm a mysoginst? Thank you for that information, I will stop doing that." But maybe that's because we need new methods. Maybe you can't fight assholery with assholery. Or maybe it's the end of the world and no one will ever change and we're all just fucked.
I mean, really, what are we DOING? Just fighting for fun? Or gleefully agreeing while we brandish our pitchfork and torch emoji? Is that what social media is these days? Comments sections? Click-bait articles? Everything just pits people against each other — or encourages smugness with no valuable education or conversation. And that makes me angry. Which… is that ironic? I don't even know anymore.
The terrible things happening in our world make me angry. But the propagation of intolerance makes me angry, too. And this propagation goes both ways. It is so, so easy to be incendiary. It is so, so easy to forward a snarky email or share a biting quote or add a crying face emoji to a picture of a protest. It is much harder to actually put your actions where your big fucking mouth is.
Have you read Dave Eggers The Circle? Go read it and then tell me we're NOT currently being swallowed by that sarlaac-esque hellmouth.
I just don't know what to do anymore. I don't want to put my head in the sand. I don't want to only look at videos of hedgehogs. I want to be socially conscious and politically active. But something has to give.
Help me find the people who still care about… anything other than just proving they're right and you're wrong.
Help me stop being so angry.