Last year I wrote a blog about anger management post-pandemic, attempting to remind us all that our feelings were normal. I’m revisiting this topic now though as I’ve seen how this open wound has festered and has been weaponised by extremists.
I’ve written quite a bit in the past about how I regularly do some algorithm hopping on social media, and by that, I mean that I have a low-key obsession with eavesdropping on what people are saying outside of my own echo chamber. It started after watching The Social Dilemma a few years back having been made aware that we were being fed information that simply fed our own beliefs. In other words our thinking was never being challenged.
It was through this “hobby” that I found myself in the world of the anti-vaxer, the covid deniers, the climate change deniers, and indeed at one point it felt like every conspiracy theory world going. I’m fascinated by how the stories pick up momentum and how each conspiracy clearly plays off a certain demographic.
Recently I’ve found myself in an algorithm that fundamentally supports the Britain First mentality. Like with all these fractions the venom comes from fear, and indeed the perpetrators of these movements actively play on fears from what I can make out. I’ve read and seen some vile discussions where people vehemently deny their bias (it’s most definitely not an unconscious bias) as it’s been reframed for them as “protecting their country” or “protecting their children”.
Sounds like the covid deniers doesn’t it – they were “protecting our freedom”, or what about the trans debate where people are actively “protecting females”
However what I’ve also come to realise is that one common strand runs through all the algorithms, from the far right crowd to the “liberal left” that tends to be my home ground, and that strand is anger.
As I wrote last year since the world closed down in 2020 it’s fair to say that nothing has been the same since. Nor of course, should it have been. It was a major event which changed the course of history. Sadly though, rather than uniting the world in humane solidarity, it appears to have done the opposite. I guess whether we recognise it or not we all united in fear for a few months, and seemingly one of the greatest by-products of fear is some sort of self-protective anger. We’ve constructed a shield of entitlement which has sadly permeated our society like a cancer.
In many ways, this anger seems to have crept up on us but it’s around us every day. The service industries talk about how badly they’re now treated by “angry” customers, teachers talk about an increase in anger from parents, and in the theatre industry, we’re forever talking about the decline of audience behaviour. In fact, the list goes on and on, and within that list, we’re finding more and more extremists.
Of course, the fact that the UK has failed to find any certainty since the pandemic has not helped at all. How do you refind a safe equilibrium when you have a government that not only fails to steer the ship but who appears to have let it drift off on its own? There are no constants to reassure us that things can improve. So the fear increases, as does the anger.
So I guess that this is a reminder that we’re all still grieving the world that we had prior to covid, and anger is a recognised part of that grieving. However, we also need to acknowledge that some of that anger will be coming from fear and take personal responsibility to keep ourselves in check in order to stop perpetuating the hate and intolerance that is fast becoming the accepted norm.
None of us are observers of this – we’re all part of the issue. We all need to proceed with empathy and curiosity.