On Getting Outraged

Here is something I am good at: Getting Outraged.

I get outraged pretty much all the time. Examples: driving anywhere, I get outraged because of how other people are driving, how other people are or aren’t crossing the street, how other people are riding their bicycles.  Especially how other people are riding their bicycles, and usually how other people on bicycles are running red lights.  I get outraged when I am out walking my dog in the morning and I see cars with no one in them idling in their driveways.  It’s November, people! It’s New England! It’s not even cold yet!

I'll hit you for a dollar, but I'll also fantasizing about hitting you if you're stupid and/or inconsiderate and/or run red lights... etcetera.

I Get Outraged when people are inconsiderate, and this can take many forms: not holding doors, not saying thank you, standing in the middle of the sidewalk so that it’s hard for other people to get by.  I Get Outraged when people use “your” instead of “you’re”, and even more so when people get married and change their name on Facebook to put their maiden name in quotes.  You know, as in “I used to be Bird Seahorse, but now I’m Bird “Seahorse” Bird-McTurtleson.”  You guys! You only use quotes if that’s what you go by!

Turtle is often telling me to calm down, that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing with their lives (but they are giving me a bad name when they run lights on their bicycles!) or with their names (but do you want me to call you by your maiden name? Because that’s WHAT YOU’RE SAYING by using quotation marks around it!), that it’s not worth expending so much energy Getting Outraged.

And you know what?  She’s right: it’s not worth the effort to hang onto the anger or frustration over these things.  I’m pretty much already an old lady sitting around and muttering, “What is the world coming to?”

OUTRAGED AT THE PIE!!!

So why let it get to me?  Because I hope to keep my passion.  I hope to be someone who has strong opinions, and is willing to live by them.  I want to be someone who cares about the big things, and I think that I need to hold those feelings up by caring about the little things too.  There are lots of things wrong with the world, and I need to identify them so that I can fix them and leave the world a better place.  Obviously, I can do that by yelling at individual bicyclists.

Okay, but really? I’m not sure why I am always Getting Outraged.  I am not entirely sure what it accomplishes.  Is it enough energy to keep me driven?  Is it actually helping, in some small way, to improve our neighborhood and then in some smaller way, to improve our world?  Does it matter if I get angry at my neighbor’s stupid giant SUV that’s been idling for fifteen minutes if I never even see my neighbor?

I think that part of it is that the anger helps me identify my values, my goals.  I want to have a good impact and to live in a way I am proud of, and I don’t want someone like me out their glaring at my idling car, and maybe I have to understand that by being angry at someone else?  Does anyone have thoughts on this?  Please tell me my outrage is, in some way, productive.

Anyone out there with similar habits?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “On Getting Outraged

  1. Holley

    OK, totally had to comment on this. I have mixed feelings about getting OUTRAGED. I think it can definitely be healthy and make you feel better at times. But other times I feel like it’s counter-productive, especially if venting to someone (or shouting in your car where no one can hear you, or whatever) isn’t making you feel any better. If it’s just getting you worked up and making your stress level go up, to no avail, then it’s not worth it. I feel this way about road rage. I’m always trying to tell people road rage is not worth it! The people you’re mad at have no idea you’re mad, and even if they do, they’re just going to drive off and continue living their oblivious lives. So why get mad when you’re only hurting yourself? That said, sometimes when someone cuts you off or pulls a real dick move, a good cursing is all you need to feel a little better…

  2. I think it’s ok to use your outrage to remind you of your passions, but it’s not ok if it’s just making you feel bad. When I get outraged at little things (i.e. at some jerk in traffic), I try to remember that my getting angry isn’t actually doing anything to that jerk, it’s only making me feel crappy anger. So why punish myself? BUT, when landfills are consistently placed next to low-income or minority neighborhoods, I think the outrage I feel IS what motivates me to take action! So it’s all about using your outrage productively, and not wasting it on stuff that isn’t really a big deal. That’s my two cents.

  3. lyn

    Dude, I hear you. ESPECIALLY about the you’re/your. That one throws me in a tizzy every time.

    Overall, I think outrage means you care. Outrage is a spark that can ignite action, and change for good. But like cheeseburgers, it needs to be enjoyed in moderation. And outrage also requires a very delicate response from you. Because simply yelling at the subject of your rage usually doesn’t teach that person a lesson outside of “sometimes other people act like crazed loons!” Not to mention that keeping up with all that outrage inside of you could have negative health effects.

    So balance is key Rage briefly, take appropriate action if possible, but then let it go.

  4. i agree with all these gals. outrage shows passion and care, but sometimes it’s not always the best reaction.

    and i’m a total hypocrite. i spent an hour and half yesterday screaming at people from my car with the windows closed in bumper to bumper traffic. productive? no. fun? eh… yeah. 🙂

  5. Ooh! Ooh! (Said in my best Arnold Horshack voice!) I have very similar habits! I truly think part of the reason I get outraged so easily is that it’s part of my genetic code. My parents are the same way, although my mother is much more vocal about it. My dad tends to give dirty looks and make subtle, snarky comments. The other part, though, comes from using my smarts to observe the world around me and becoming incensed when something seems messed up in one way or another. As a teenager and early 20-something, I tended to just yell and use a lot of sarcasm when I was outraged. I still do those things from time to time, but now I try to focus my energy more on what I can do personally to right the wrongs that I see. That still means speaking up a lot of the time, but in a way that doesn’t alienate the people you need to help you make changes.

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