I used to find it perplexing that people become so agitated when other people behaved like human beings. Haven’t we learned that this is what people are like? If we all know that this is what people are like, why do we still react so strongly when people behave like people?
When I talk about people behaving like people, I’m talking about the negative side of the human experience. We’ve all encountered situations where a person has made a mistake, behaved badly, failed to listen to something, stubbornly insisted on something that was obviously wrong or has ignored crucial information. The usual panoply of vices that inhere to the human condition.
Invariably in those situations, the most common response is outrage and anger. There’s something that snaps when we encounter such conduct. We loudly condemn the incompetence, stupidity or malice that has caused us such unnecessary grief. We burn up inside. We rage against the inherent human condition.
I suspect that there are three reasons why we need this rage. Firstly, it feels good (regardless of how useful it actually is) to vent our sense of frustration. Secondly, it sends out the clear message that incompetence is unacceptable and unrepeatable. The third is that we want to affirm our own sense of competence. We wouldn’t do what the wrongdoer did. We would’ve gotten things right.
I find that these reasons are becoming more true for me. I used to be more detached when it came to outrage inducing incidents. As the the victim of incompetence and error I shrug my shoulders and accept it. The best thing was to deal with things constructively and find a solution to the problem rather than getting bogged down in allocating blame.
I no longer have that sense of emotional equilibrium.
Now the red mist has now started to descend on me far more often than before. I feel real rage. I feel the need to vent. I need to let other people know that their incompetence is unpalatable. I’m no longer able to remain reasonable in the face of incompetence.
Not that this makes any more sense. It seems oh so much more sensible to look for constructive solutions to the problem rather than getting bogged down in the wasted time of anger. But I’m not for the sensible route anymore.