Fighting My Outrage Addiction

I intend to make this post deliberately obtuse, as general and nonspecific as possible. If you think it may apply to a situation with which you’re familiar or in which you’re involved, you may be right. Here goes:

I get mad sometimes. Maybe more often than I should.

Not as mad as I used to get when I was younger, I think; though the people closest to me might disagree. Same frequency, maybe, but lower intensity? I think that may have something to do with not having as much energy as I used to have. (What was it Heinlein said about how what appears to be “mature wisdom” resembles just being too tired?) I find that what used to induce paroxysms of rage in me now elicits only grunts of disapproval.

But the stimuli to outrage continue. In fact they have increased in frequency because I encounter them on television news, in online news of various types — sports stories or science stories that contain not-so-thinly-veiled references to political or societal turmoil — and pretty much everywhere in social media. The lines in the sand are drawn, have been drawn now for some time, and no matter how often some of us try to smooth them away others are prepared to redraw them, often deeper and more distinct than before.

And all that leaves me struggling against my own addiction to outrage, my long-established and well-practiced tendency to fight back, to fashion my words into missiles and fire them in thundering salvoes.

Sometimes it’s hard not to give in to the outrage. (Image: “241/365,” by Kenny Louie, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

But I fight against that tendency because the results usually aren’t that good. Too often, surrounded by the exhaust plumes of my tirade, I have exulted in my triumph — until the winds of reality blew away that fog and I realized that the only things I’d damaged were my friends and friendships.

I still get mad, sometimes. Probably more often than I should.

But I’m trying not to give in to it.

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