Afternoon InquisitionRandom Asides

AI: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World!

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much lately. You see, not long ago I was informed that Skepchick was going to be held at a different location than its original spot. Apparently there was a problem with the ice machine or something at Skepchick HQ, so they had to change the location.

I didn’t think twice about it, and I innocently arrived at the new location, expecting all the Chicks to be there blogging. But I was surprised to discover the only contributors there were me, the president of the Twilight fan club, that one guy who never takes a bath, and for some reason, Gene Shalit.

Well, after realizing I’d been duped, I left the fake Skepchick, and came back here with ass-whoopin’ on my mind. Coincidentally, “Ass-Whoopin’ on My Mind” is also one of the songs on my upcoming Country album, Whiskey Bottles & Cheatin’ Songs. Keep an eye out for that.

At any rate, now that the rambling nonsense is out of the way, I want to know about anger. I suspect that being in the rat race, or raising kids, or just dealing with other people for any length of time can cause anger to bubble in people, and they just don’t show it.

Do you express anger openly? How? Do you suppress it? Channel it to something else? Ever tripped soomeone’s hair-trigger? What happened?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. I cry . . .

    . . . which is fucking irritating. I can’t control it. It just bubbles up as I am yelling and screaming and nobody can take me seriously.

    My husband also told me that when I am mad I tend to go straight to the jugular. I’m not proud of this but I know it’s true :-P

  2. I used to get angry at things, but I’ve since mellowed out a great deal. There wasn’t any conscious effort to do so, just time. I might also have burned anger from my system entirely after working at a very frustrating and high stress job that was often degrading and subjected me to warrantless abuse from strangers. Nothing seems that bad any more, so there’s really no point in getting angry. Which is nice.

    When I did get angry, I’d yell and storm off and walk about for a bit, until things calmed down. If I was really pissed, I’d go silent. That’s when rage was truly about to take control. Luckily I’ve never lost control, so that’s also good.

    These days though, the most I get is a bit frustrated, which some people can confuse with anger, but it’s not the same thing at all. Cussing an uncooperative computer out is not the same thing as being genuinely mad at it. Besides, it’s really not worth getting angry about anything. Just live with a few little frustrations and move on.

    It’s comforting to know that years of abuse and stress can have a positive result.

  3. I used to smoke, that helped the anger but my health, not so much. Many of us still step out side to vent about subject A or subject B. it can be good to know you are not alone in your frustration sometimes.

    Occasionally if my computer is acting fussy I’ll curse it as if it were messing with me on purpose. It’s silly.

  4. I don’t think I really get angry all that often. At least, not with issues in my own life. If I’m angry at another person, I’ll stew for a while, calm myself down, then talk to them about it. Often, I cry while I’m talking. I can’t help it. I am currently working on admitting that I’m sometimes wrong.

    When it comes to issues in the news that make me angry, I rant. Often in blog form. I don’t care if anyone reads it (and trust me, there are few who do), but I find it therapeutic to blurt out all the reasons I’m angry in a few concise, well-formed paragraphs. I can make my argument without being interrupted, insulted or harassed.

    In general though, I’m very anti-confrontational. I’m an only child, so when I was growing up, whenever my friends fought with their siblings I just wanted to hide under a rock. I’m still like that for the most part.

  5. I don’t anger easily because I prefer to naively assume that people have the best intentions until I have a reason to believe otherwise.

    However, when I do get angry it’s usually because I’m irritated, like having a classmate who is late to every meeting for a group project, or coworkers who are messier than a bunch of toddlers and I get stuck cleaning up after them. I still manage to be articulate and I think it comes across as righteous indignation. I also tend to complain to anyone who will listen.

    When I get angry about jerks on the internet or whackos I see/hear on tv, sometimes it will inspire me to write a long essay to organize my thoughts on my disagreement.

  6. This cowpoke dont get as riled up as he use to. Not that I’m not passionate about some issues, it’s just that time seems to have mellowed me out. At work I have to be calm when the shit’s flying which has been quite an education in keeping fairly calm when instincts might lead other places.

  7. I’ve had to ask other people who’ve seen me angry how I act when it happens. Appearantly, my eyes turn a striking blue and I put a lot of force in my speech.

    But, after what looks like I calm down, its usually followed by a deep depression, and I will occasionally do something I regret later. The last time I got angry, I deleted my yahoo account, and ended up losing contact with some friends. We’ve been able to reconnect via other social media sites, but that was a bad idea.

    But, that depression is usually accompanied by the wish to just disappear and be forgotten about. ( I guess that’s atheist suicide.)

  8. I don’t get angry. The closest might be best called’ righteous indignation’ ala “You’re giving kids measles you antivax wackos!” but I’m not really ANGRY at them…I understand, etcetc.

    I’m too touchy-feely. Ask anybody.

  9. I can get really mean if I’m mad enough. Usually I’ll say my piece — very loudly — and then storm off. Sometimes I’ll come back to say more. Because I like to talk. Especially when I’m mad.

  10. Hi there!

    Ordinarily, I am the most laid-back, non-confrontational, easy-going, mellow person I know. I am slow to anger, and don’t fight people on things. Every once in a GREAT while I’ll get angry at something, but even then, I usually get over it quickly. Here’s how:

    There was a scene in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver”, where Lou Diamond Philips is hanging out of a car window antagonizing a cop car, because he’s angry at having the integrity of his Calculus scores questioned. The cops hit the sirens, and Lou just pounds on the car roof, yelling at them: “Yeah! That’s all you know!”. It just seemed like an odd thing to say. I mean what other response would you expect from a couple of LA’s finest? You scream at them, they’re going to hit the cherry-tops. It’s not like it was an irrational response. So yeah, I guess that’s all they DID know. But still, you had to respect the WAY he said it. The pure Barrio swagger that came with it. “Yeah! That’s all you know!”.

    I have appropriated this phrase for my own angry outbursts. I stub my toe? I throw my arms out to the side and shout at my foot: “Yeeeah! That’s all you know!”. The sump pump in my basement disconnects from the hose spraying water everywhere? “Yeah, sump pump! That’s all you know!”.

    It usually helps me cool down enough to realize that I’m yelling at a sump pump, or whatever. I haven’t tried this on a human yet, and since I’ve been saying it since 1988, I’m probably not going to.

    I mean, unless some LA cops try to pull me over for hanging out of a car window and screaming in angst. Because I mean, how could you NOT?

  11. It depends on where I am. I’ve been known to cuss a bit. If I’m at home among my toys and am furious, pulling out my spinning wheel and making yarn helps a lot. It’s really meditative. Knitting helps, too, but there’s just something about spinning that really reduces my hostility level. When I was younger I would throw things at the wall. I did have enough self-control not to throw breakable things. My childhood bedroom had a few dents in the wall that came from me hurling my backpack when angry.

  12. I’ve learned that most of my anger is misdirected, inappropriate, or based on a misunderstanding. I try to sit on it for a few hours before doing anything and then I try to make it something productive. The upside is I don’t fly off the handle much any more. The downside is I usually come off as a bit cool and detached.

  13. First, I swear.
    Then I get sarcastic.
    Then I start verbally attacking the object of my rage.
    If I’m at work, I slam out the door and go for a walk.
    If I’m at home…I’ll kick and scream and put holes in the walls, until I realize I’ve scared one of the pets.
    Afterwards, I will cry and be overly apologetic…to the wall, to the cat, to the dog, whoever happens to be nearby.

    The worst thing I can do when I’m angry is write. Cause I can’t resist saving it. Mostly so I don’t have to repeat myself the next time I’m pissed off, I can just re-read it. But I’ve actually lost jobs and friendships over bile I’ve spewed on a Word doc.

  14. I’m the least confrontational person in the world. Don’t believe me? Top this: I saw a fight starting to fight at 1am at sombreros (taco shop) and because I didn’t even want to SEE a fight I managed to talk a very big very angry man out of fighting with another very big very angry man who had just punched his girlfriend in the face. Sometimes I think I should be counselor.

  15. I usually remain calm in the face of great stress, but once in a while something pushes me over the edge.

    It’s never a big thing though, it’s always something petty and small like dropping a bit of food on the floor or the batteries in a remote running out.

    The stress I get at work just washes off me like water off a ducks back, but if that toaster burns my toast, it feels the full force of my wrath.

  16. I don’t see much point in confrontation with only a small handful of exceptions. But that said, when I get angry, I vent it. I see no point to bottle it up or worse, to encourage the thing that angered me to do it again by not reacting. But I vent usually by my two best pals, profanity and sarcasm. I see no reason to hit people or punch walls.

    Of course, I have my buttons. Now that my daughters are old enough, I find myself getting angry a lot more. Last night my daughter called and told me some chick at the park (she’s in grade 6) was swearing at her, and when she ignored the girl, this little troglodyte grabbed her by the hair and spat in her face.

    My daughter is a cool chick (in the school sense) but is extremely skinny and wimpy. This was a clear case of a bully abusing and humiliating my daughter. It’s a very good thing I live in a different province (that’s like a State for you ‘Mericans) or I doubt I could have stopped myself from going and shaking the little twat by her ankles until she stopped twitching.

    I made it through 14 years of marriage, the resulting divorce, and 3 years of mending friendships with my ex-wife with never raising a hand to her and almost never raising my voice above conversational tones, but the minute my kids are threatened I struggle to maintain my composure.

  17. Weird, just realized I haven’t had a temper tantrum since I got laid off from the German company.
    Either I’m finally getting some emotional maturity or they really were as bad to work for as I thought.

  18. It depends. I can get so angry that I can’t speak.
    I can get so angry I brood about it for hours.
    I can get so angry I hurl insults. And then regret it as they’re usually crap insults.

    Fortunately all of these happen rarely. I’m more into being disappointed and/or resigned than being angry.

    Oh! In elementary school I got so mad at bullies a couple of times that I jumped on their backs and choked them until the end of recess bell let me get away safely.

  19. I find I get angry at things or situations much easier than I get angry at people. Like I get pissed but right quick when my iMac drops the wi-fi signal, and start yelling and banging the desk. But when my 8-year-old nephew accidentally kicks me in the head, it doesn’t bother me at all, since it’s collateral damage from horseplay.

    I think it has to do with expectations. I expect people to be a bit wonky from time to time – inaccurate, clumsy – but I expect inanimate objects to function properly 100% of the time.

  20. My eight-year-old daughter now calls me S.A. because my wife called me a snarky asshole a while ago and she thought it was hilarious.

    I have a rhetorical way of speaking even when I am not mad and when I get angry it really comes out.
    It’s like that scene in “You’ve Got Mail’ when Hanks uses his biting wit on Ryan and instantly regrets it but just can’t help himself. I can be like that some times.

    And now that I have proved myself to be a complete spaz for not only haven seen YGM, but by referancing it I will return to my cage.

  21. I tend to just turn into a smart-ass jerk when I’m angry. People tend not to notice because that is kind of how I behave normally.

    I have, however, developed an air-punching habit that is concerning. Partly because I look stupid doing it and partly because it might result in an actual punching one day. Usually, it’s a very small, non-specific fist jab when I’m describing or listening to something anger inducing. I scared myself a little bit during the last election and presidential debates. When John McCain put “health of the mother” in air-quotes, I reflexively punched my fist in the direction of the TV. Fast. And hard. It was such a non-intentional, reflex action that I think I might have actually punched John McCain in the face if he had been standing in front of me. I’m now trying to cut back on the punching to prevent a future assault charge.

  22. It depends on the object of my anger. My ex’s new wife being mean to my then-young kid? The ex was probably deaf for a week. The nurse at his school proclaiming that asthma was ‘all in their heads’ whilst refusing to give him his inhaler? After I considered the penalties for pre-meditated murder, I called the school district office and got her fired. [Asthma is the most prevalent and most serious medical condition in the LA school system; the ‘it’s all in their heads’ nonsense went out in the 50s.] When the Offspring’s high school counselor left and his new one had no idea what the law was re: accommodating learning disabilities and therefore wouldn’t comply with said law, I again went to the district offices, this time with the threat of a lawsuit. Do we see a pattern here? M0mmy tiger, yup. I yell, my voice goes up to a pitch only bats and Kate Bush can hear. Then I calm down and resort to heavy explosives calm polysyllabic discussions with those in charge, which tends to intimidate them.

    OTOH, I scared the shit out of the repairman Sears sent who not only couldn’t fit into my laundry room, but opined from a distance that I’d have to replace the just-out-of-warranty washer entirely, after having confessed that he had no idea how to fix that model. I chased him down the stairs, screaming at the top of my lungs. For a man who must have topped 350lbs, he was surprisingly agile. Then I posted negative reviews at every site I could think of and cc’d the corporate office. [After talking to two independent repair shops and finding out that this model of washer is known to be defective, I junked the Kenmore and bought a Danby. I will not buy another Kenmore product.]

    I’m also capable of great patience. La vengeance se mange très-bien froide.

  23. I tend to speak slowly and calmly when I’m angry. Slowly, calmly, and saying very nasty, smart-ass, cynical things. On purpose. I used to have anger management issues when I was little. I broke a school desk once on an angry rampage ( I was 8).

    I rarely get angry, and only very rarely blow up. At that point, I’m likely to get violent, so I avoid it. I sometimes play out how it would happen if I let loose in my head, to make sure I don’t do it. I heard assault charges lower your chances of getting a good job.

    And yes, I’ve tripped lots of triggers (especially while being angrily nasty-mean-cynical). Took a punch from an ex once because I lost it and said something true but stupid.

    Also, my brother and I getting violently angry and beating the shit out of each other on a basketball court was pretty epic.

  24. i don’t know if i tend to get angry as much as i get irritated or frustrated. i get more and more cynical and sarcastic when i’m frustrated. i’ve been told i have a long fuse, and then i explode (sometimes violently, which i am not proud of). I shout a lot, and sometimes cry, but it’s over quickly.

  25. I am generally happy-go-lucky and quite verbal. If my volume goes down. If. I. Start. To. Speak. Slowly. And. Deliberately. and if I stare directly into your eyes while doing it, it is probably time to leave the room.

  26. When I get mad, I usually sulk a bit or begin thinking nasty thoughts in my head, depending on whether it is a good day or not until I can’t stand it and when that happens, I can be incredibly mean to other people. Strangely enough, when I promise to be mad at certain people for all eternity, my rage defuses by the next day and I want to talk to that person again as friends.

  27. I’m a very intellectual person. It’s easy for me to be mad or disappointed, but very hard for me to get really angry. When I’m in just an ordinarily every day state of anger, I’ll be very quiet until the problem (person ;-) goes away. I frown and squint at them.

    When I get *extremely* angry, I calmly and quietly take action in a firm and decisive manner to resolve the problem. I’ve driven two people out of their jobs. I’ve resolve two legal conflicts (in my favor, of course). People on the receiving end of my actions have described it as “terrifying.” And I’m the nicest person in the world about it. >;->

  28. Who the fuck let Sam back in Skepchick HQ? I thought we agreed that his stunning good looks and exellent singing and interprative dance abilities were too distracting. UGHH NOW I AM NEVER GOING TO GET ANY FUCKING WORK DONE! I AM SO PISSED OFF I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT THE QUESTION WAS… aaaaaaaaaa

  29. People who don’t know me well think I get angry all the time- truth be told, I just enjoy getting riled up and excited about things. People who know me know that when I get genuinely angry I get a biting tongue- I can be mean. It’s a knee jerk reaction, though- the words are out of my mouth before I’ve even thought about them. Very few people see that side of me, though.

  30. I’ve also mellowed with age as others have said, but I still get wound up from time to time at my crap job.

    I’m pretty non-confrontational and don’t let very much get to me any more thanks to the warm blanket of apathy I wrap myself in on my way to work. It’s just not worth it any more.

    When I do get upset, I get really quiet. If my whole head turns red and I don’t make a sound or respond to any questions, just back away slowly. By that time, it’s only my mortgage payment preventing me from giving voice to what I am really thinking.

    It’s taken me a few years to figure this out. Nearly broke my hand punching a computer monitor, and told a few VPs one or two things that maybe I shouldn’t have, but letting go of caring what other people thought about me really made it easier to stop getting upset by the words and actions of the self important corporate dipshits I work with.

  31. I’ve never angered quickly.
    I do occasionally get very frustrated (usually with objects, myself, sometimes people too), and will start swearing and growling, but I hardly ever get mad in someone’s face. If my frustration is with a person, I’ll usually vent about it to someone else behind their backs. I guess my need to be liked by everyone is so overpowering that I don’t want the person who’s frustrating me to dislike me for it.

    I suppose many years of martial arts have altered my way of thinking such that I only reserve the most lethal (verbal) techniques for those occasions when there’s nobody around to be hurt by them. Not to mention they’re also a great way of chaneling the existing tension/emotion in a harmless way.

    I’m also capable of great patience. La vengeance se mange très-bien froide.

    I do the same thing. Except I oftens forget to take the vengeance. Or something that happened inbetween changed everything and suddenly vengeance is no longer desired (which is even better).

    I’d say the only exception to all this is online conversation. For some reason, it’s not physical and therefore all bets are off.

  32. Frustration can drive me into a rage, I have actually gone berserk on occasion. I generally manage to avoid exposing other people to the worst of my temper.

  33. First off, I’m quite displeased with you! It’s “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”.

    Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I bury my anger under a big “W”.

    All kidding aside, if someone gets me angry I bottle it up and put it on the shelf for a time when I can express it constructively; whether that’s while lifting weights, doing yard-work, cleaning.

    If I’m in a situation where the anger is getting overwhelming I do my best to remove the stimulus. If that’s not possible I ignore it completely and go about my business as if it weren’t there.

  34. @ConditionOfMan:

    Nice arcane movie reference.

    I have a heavy-bag hung up for exactly this reason – I’m not a small guy, and I can be a physical guy, and when I get really angry (not that frequent) I need to hit something. I’ve never, ever even come close to hitting a person in anger, but I man, I do work that heavy-bag.

    When I’m driving and something pisses me off (more and more frequently) I punch straight up, into the roof of my car. Looking from the outside you can actually see where I’m stretching out the metal from my frequent punching.

    Depending on the anger, sometimes going and playing with my pet rats can also help.

  35. @Surly Nymph: OMG, yes! I hate it. I cry and can’t stop and then I sound like a crazy person trying to prove she’s not crazy. I’m not depressed, I’m pissed – stop trying to hug me!

    I also channel my anger into roller derby. It is a great outlet for my job frustrations, and something social I can do that does not involve talking about my students or pretending I don’t curse, drink, or have sex. Plus, throwing your whole body into trying to knock somebody off their skates is fun!

  36. To clarify on an earlier point… When I had an issue with U-Haul hanging me out to dry in the middle if Illinois over fueling the truck improperly, *several* people I worked with from there to Wisconsin, helping me resolve the problem, told me that I was the most calm and reasonable person they had ever met. I keep my goals in mind. I was *highly motivated*. ;-> After I got the move finished, I went to work on those turkeys at U-Haul. It wasn’t long before they saw things my way and sent me the money. >;-> I wasn’t mean or nasty — just consistent. And I was sure that I had all my cards in order before I pursued the issue with them. (IE: “Attacked.” ;-)

    I like to be a nice person. I avoid conflict. I like to think I have an open mind; I’d like to hear and consider everyone’s opinion. But when I decide to fight over an issue beware: I like to win. So I will usually attack with overwhelming and highly effective force. >;->

  37. @Zapski: “I might also have burned anger from my system entirely after working at a very frustrating and high stress job that was often degrading and subjected me to warrantless abuse from strangers.”

    I didn’t know you worked ticket counter and gate for an airline in a past life… ;-)

  38. @QuestionAuthority: Without revealing too much, I will say that one of the stories of abuse at this link is mine.

    And incidents like that occurred every day. I did that for nearly 5 years. Now I don’t get angry anymore. Of course, I’m also incapable of feeling anything beyond soul-crushing despair, and wake up at night screaming a few times a week.

  39. I used to punch things (not people, things) like walls and doors. I’m much better now though. If it’s a small amount I bottle it up to release as a scream later on, or if I get REALLY angry, I write some sort of post online where I can be a pretentious, stuck up douche as much as I like.

    For example I read a comment (at least, what I think I read in a comment) on this very blog that I composed a somewhat put-out reply to, before noticing that it was a a month old article and deleting it. It did, however, get the small amount of stress created off my chest.

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