Keep Trying

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Self-Destruction Through Anger

It's so scary how often we self-destruct with anger. My worst moments of parenting occurred when I lost my temper towards my children. Fortunately I am able to control my reactions most of the time and my children are very forgiving of any mistakes their parents make.

On the Web, anger has become a primary currency of political discourse and this is unfortunate. Let's cite a recent example.

John Perry Barlow penned a piece in which he tried to reach out across the political divide. He admitted that his fanatical opposition to the current administration caused him to take satisfaction in the failures of his country and he realized this was a very unhealthy attitude.

Joe Katzman seems to have received Barlow's piece in a similiar matter to myself:

I've got a little secret of my own, too - for all our differences, I'm relieved and pleased to be on the same team as someone like John Perry Barlow. Not my political team, mind. Not even my national team, unless John moves (or I do). But my team, nonetheless, in a way that "Screw Them" Kos, Michael Moore et. al. can never hope to be.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Dean Esmay gave Barlow a far less charitable reading. David Weinberger described Dean's piece as "angry, ranting, and paints a convincing and distressingly believable picture of how folks like me look like to folks like him."

In David's comments I described Dean's piece as a throw away angry rant that hopefully represents few folks like him. Dean was offended by my comments and said that he spent a lot of time on the piece and that a LOT of people feel the same way he does.

In response to Dean, I commented:

I didn't mean to imply that you didn't work hard on your piece or that other people didn't agree with it. But when it is filled with so much anger and invective it gets classified in my mind (and probably a LOT of people on the web) as a rant.

Nothing wrong with a rant, it just puts the focus more on the emotions of the writer than the case being made. Here's to hoping for less anger and more understanding between the parties.

When we express our thoughts as an invective filled rant the best we can hope for is stirring those negative feelings in others. Is that really the result we are looking for? I don't think that was Dean's intent and it is unfortunate that his valid arguments got swallowed in his rage. Anger is a common human emotion, but when trying to communicate effectively the anger must be set aside so people can hear the healing effect of thoughtfulness and logic as opposed to the destruction wrought in the path of negativity and rage.