Sunday, May 06, 2007

and speaking of being friendly...

Psychomamma posted recently about rage all around us.

Some posited that it has to do with excess privilege, which may indeed be a factor. But I also suspect that people have been ever thus (angry). It makes me think that maybe a loosening (or perhaps simply lack of consensus on) moral standards is in operation here. Moral relativism and all that. I think many of us are simply unable to “be good” (ie, exercise self-discipline, operate cooperatively/altruistically, etc) without the strong, simple, and consistent moral framework offered by religion or well-entrenched social custom.

As clichéd as it sounds, I also think violence glorified in popular culture (TV/movies, songs, video games) has an influence. To those (stupid) people who like to think that continual exposure to a particular behavior or message doesn’t have a significant effect, I point you to Calvin & Hobbes, where Hobbes responds to a similar contention with “That sound you hear is advertisers laughing.”

I also wonder if isolation plays a role. We're social animals, but now that we live together in such huge groups (ie, cities), it's not practical/possible to interact with everyone in a way that would promote empathy and cooperation -- it would take all day. So we develop the technique of ignoring each other except when necessary (ie, most of the ppl we see we treat as scenery). IOW, we necessarily develop the habit of de-humanizing most of the people we see every day.
In addition, we now have the ability to live in a way that insulates us from our dependence on others; because of electronics, mega-farms, smoothly-functioning transport infrastructure, etc, etc, we now have formalized, reliable methods of getting what we need (food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, etc) without interacting with other people in any meaningful way. So we don’t.


At Mon May 07, 01:01:00 AM PDT, Blogger jay are said...

dead on, mate.

Just wanted to say that. But I agree with all of the above. What you said. That.

At Mon May 07, 08:49:00 AM PDT, Blogger Lisa said...

good points, good points. I guess if you were a farmer in the old times, you could hardly rage against the guy you depended on for seed. Or whatever. But now, who cares if you rage on the guy in front of you. You don't need him. You don't even know him.

Too bad, though. Because rage just feels bad. I hate to think that people are consumed with bad feelings.

Gotta go take my happy pills now.

At Mon May 07, 12:49:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Yes, to all you said.
I married into a family that has rural roots. One of the things I noticed (finally) was that neighbors have quite a different way of working things out. If, for instance, you want to borrow a piece of machinery or a tool, or ask some kind of favor, you don't just pull up in the guy's driveway and say, "Hey Bob, how ya doin? -- looks like rain, huh? Say, I'm wondering if I can borrow your chainsaw." (you especially don't do this if the guy's name isn't Bob). That's way too little fore-talk. You need to spend anywhere from five to 10 minutes on banter before you move on to the primary reason for your visit (which is to say, you make it seem as if the primary reason for your visit is not the primary reason for your visit). I think much of this behavior has "evolved" from generations of rural folks knowing that they ARE dependent on one another and so favors are best apporached delicately and diplomatically. A pretty nice system, actually. Also, the further north you go, the better you treat your next door neighbor since he or she may be the source of your next jump when your battery poops out.

At Tue May 08, 09:52:00 AM PDT, Blogger jay aitch said...

You are right that anger is nothing new: Genesis 4:5-8

At Tue May 08, 10:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

thx for your comments.
lisa, i think rage actually feels good to some people. and for others it may not feel good, but it's at least familiar and therefore comforting.
unca, i usually just go take the chainsaw out of the guy's garage and then call him later to say 'btw, i borrowed your chainsaw'. that works for me.


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