Carl glanced up. “Oh, no,” he said under his breath. “Here comes Bob.” He quickly grabbed his chair and turned to go. Carl’s wife stood and folded her own lawn chair, as well. “Carl, wait! I’ll go with you.” She glanced back at the rest of us still gathered around the fire, and with a low voice whispered, “Bob always makes everything an argument. We’ll see you all later.”
It’s sad, isn’t it? The way some folks enter a conversation as if it’s a battle to be won, a verbal fight to the finish? I’m not talking about a normal conversation where two people with opposing views freely offer their ideas and calmly listen (really listen) to one another. No, this is something much different, and I understand why Carl and his wife chose to escape to their RV.
Bob (not his real name) recently joined our nightly campfire crowd. During a few short conversations, everyone around the fire quickly came to know Bob and his overstated opinions—on virtually everything! Why? Because Bob entered the conversations seeming intent on shouting down everyone else’s ideas, while angrily promoting his own—his body language and harsh tone daring anyone to disagree.
It’s not just Bob
Nowadays it seems as if more and more people exhibit Bob’s same hostility. We see anger manifested in incensed highway drivers, enraged store patrons, out-of-control airline passengers, and more. People today seem to have very short fuses and are not afraid to voice their displeasure or, even worse, violently act on it. The anger is bewildering and can be downright scary.
I was in the grocery store the other day, second in line to check out. The gal ahead of me had three small children with her. Suddenly, she realized she’d forgotten to pick up milk. She apologized to me, and I told her to run back and get it. The person behind me became incensed. He began loudly verbalizing his displeasure, and as the harried mother returned, he cursed at her under his breath! (She hadn’t been gone even one minute!) I was both glad and scared to be standing between the two shoppers. I provided a buffer zone for the mom ahead of me, but I was also right in the angry guy’s verbal line of fire.
What’s happening to us?
The incident made me wonder: What’s happening to us as a society? Why is everyone so angry and distressed? Some folks blame COVID, the general decline of morality, or our current economy. Others contend that media plays a large part in feeding our anger. Social media posts and comments are often harsh, rude, and aggressive in nature. The shield of anonymity allows people to express themselves in ways they’d never dream of in real life. But because their true identities are hidden on social media, they toss polite manners and goodwill out the window in favor of nastiness and anger.
Other media also feeds our hostility. Network news regularly pokes at one political party or the other with hostility. News anchors angrily denounce one faction over another, all the while claiming to be impartial. Some even stoop so low as to name-call and nastily joke about “the other side.” It’s disturbing because both “sides” regularly engage in this “anger bating.”
No wonder people are angry! We’re bombarded with hostility from almost everywhere.
The anger emotion
It’s natural to feel angry at times. It’s a normal emotion that humans all share. Dr. Lisa MacLean, M.D., a Detroit psychiatrist, says, “Anger is a normal reaction to stress.” Generally, anger is short-lived and, used properly, it can act as a motivation to address the cause of our stress.
The problem, it seems to me, is that anger is often not used as positive motivation in our society today. Rather, some folks seem to become “stuck” in their anger, unable to extricate themselves and instead continue to sink deeper and deeper into a continual rage.
While anger is a naturally occurring emotion, sustained, uncontrolled anger can have negative effects on our health. Headaches, high blood pressure, and chronic anxiety can result. Unabated anger can also cause depression, sleep disorders, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. One result I fear our “angry campfire Bob” may soon experience is loneliness. Who wants to be around a guy who’s always hostile?
Responding to anger
As I waited for the mom ahead of me to finish paying, I turned to the man behind me and offered, “Please go ahead of me.” The clerk’s head jerked up to look at me with astonishment. Then, she quickly focused elsewhere.
“Thanks,” the man mumbled. He scooted his cart ahead of mine and began unloading his groceries onto the conveyor belt.
Was I still angry at the way the man acted toward the harried mom? Yes. But I’ve also learned Proverbs 15:1. It’s a good reminder for us all. The Proverb says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Do you think people seem angrier now than in the past? Let me know in the comments (kindly, of course).
Volley your anger right out of the campground
Comments are closed. (I should have closed them lonnnnng ago. Sorry.) –Diane at RVtravel.com
You have hit the nail on the head.
Every where we turn is change, uncertainty and despair in our world, our nation, jobs and relationships.
I’ve often tried to put myself in the other guys shoes and wondered what made them like that.
I had a coworker who was so opinionated that he drove away one guy from the crew and was no small part of my taking another assignment. His problems were started in childhood and followed him through life. 5 failed marriages and he is alone.
And yet he’s not alone as your story exemplifies
what happened was Brandon pitted us all against each other.
Nah.. pretty sure that was 45 with the constant lying, conspiracies and badmouthing. Half the country believed him and the other half couldn’t believe anyone believed him.
You’ve both proven Gail right.
I don’t think “campfire Bob” is a real person. Just a way to write this article.
Hi, Gary. Gail Marsh doesn’t make up people just to write an article. Just sayin’. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
No doubt a total coincidence–Fox News dropped their “Fair and Balanced” motto in August 2016
Or as my ole daddy used to say, “Son, you can’t out puke a buzzard.”
bout the same time Brandon started pitting us against each other?
I must admit that I do get angry, but only when I hit my thumb with a hammer, (when any inanimate object defies me). For some reason I don’t get angry with people or what they do or say. First I feel sorry for them. Second, I don’t know if they just found out they have cancer, if their father just died, if they just lost their job, or whatever. I came home from 2nd grade crying because someone had said something to me. Mom then said: “then don’t put your feelings out there where they can get stepped on.” You have the choice. You may hear someone talking but you don’t have to listen to what they have to say. Smile and go on Your way. I find it kind of simple. Why argue or get angry because you know they don’t care what you have to say anyway.
I see where you got some of your smarts from, Kelly. Thanks for sharing that piece of wisdom. Have a good afternoon/evening. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
60 years ago I was taught a simple philosophy, Don’t talk about politics and religion.
Around my camp fire all are welcome, as long as you want to try and figure out if that dot in the night sky is a planet or a star or when Betelgeuse is going to blow.
In a store is it too difficult to say excuse me to pass by someone or to say you’re sorry if you get in someone’s way.
Unless everyone is in total agreement, those subjects are dangerous territory.
Could not agree more. Campfires and bars are no-go zones for politics.
Same for our newsletters, Cancelproof. Just sayin’. Have a great day. 😀 –Big Sister at RVtravel.com
I dont spout politics though. I respond to them.
Check the timeline and Note, that I did not go first on this subject or article. I waited for someone to go down that road first and would have been content to not touch that hot stove. Alas, someone spewed and I responded.
Other articles, maybe, but this one, nope. Not angry by nature. Just amused.
And that’s why your comments are still there, Cancelproof. But once these discussions start referring to politics, they get out of hand quickly. I’m just saying these newsletters are not the place for political or religious arguments, especially with our “United” States being so divided these days. Take care. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
Could not agree more. This one went religious and political with a little venom on both subjects. It was an article on anger tho so I guess it should not be so terribly surprising to some extent.
With appreciation for your own kind disposition and balance,
Some weekends are more of a challenge to moderate comments than others, that’s for sure. 😯 Take care, Cancelproof. 😀 –Not Karen. (That would have been my little sister. I’m Big Sister. 😆 )
You see Chris, we agree. Campfires and bars. However, when you brought up 2016 being a turning point for anger, it is you that went political. I am pointing this out for big sister and so your friends below that would rather cancel than discuss or debate can nod in agreement because it is agreement they seek.
A few years ago rudeness, bullying and name calling became so bad that the country started to model it.
The first step is to admit it. The truth will set you free. Surely I’m not the only one that can admit to being angry. Just because you are angry about something or somethings does not make you an angry person or a “Bob”. Anger is a real emotion. Embrace it, own it.
Tired of entitled children burning down the cities you helped build? Say so.
Tired of killers going free without bail? Yell about it, out loud.
Tired of 5 million illegals getting 4 star tax funded hotel accommodations? Say so.
Sick of being called a rascist? Fight back.
Dislike national monuments being torn down? Don’t just sit quietly watching.
Do you dislike the idea of your grandkids getting genders changed at 10 years old? Scream it.
Tired of keeping up with pronouns? Yikes.
Our shared democracy requires your anger, not your silence. Don’t go along to get along. The simple path is seldom the correct one.
Being angry doesn’t make me Bob and it won’t you either.
Sorry for joining the conversation so late. Most of my comments in this newsletter have preached the need for tolerance and compassion for those who are struggling. I think it would benefit all of us to walk a mile in their shoes. I am quite concerned with where our country is going, especially since 2016. But I agree with Cancelproof that being silent about what we see and disagree with is the wrong approach. We must speak out when we see injustice, discrimination, lying, and other inhuman and criminal behavior. Silence is not golden and should not be interpreted as approval. We, as Americans, must learn how to have a civil conversation, find what we agree on, and find ways to fix the underlying issues that are making people so angry and abusive. There are underlying issues that demand these conversations, but right now, we have shouting matches instead of conversations. Makes for great entertainment on TV but it’s incredibly disappointing. It’s time to lower the decibel level and start talking. It’s time we demand that our elected representatives work for our country and not their party. It’s time to speak up! And Gail, you did good!
Such a hopeful message Cat and one that I agree with. Things have become so tribal that I do not see it changing until a full accounting of the lies has been brought to light. A good place to start, IMO, is the FBI. They skewed an election against Hillary in 2016 and then against Trump in 2020. Until the American people can agree that the FBI and CIA have NO place in our elections for either side, nothing changes. On censorship, a full accounting of the organized silencing of one side will need to happen. If anyone thinks it goes both ways, I can point to a hundred cases of the right being silenced on Utube, Twitter and FB in the past 4 years but can’t find one the other way. Until that accounting and that come to Jesus moment happens on the left, I’ll continue my way.
We are in agreement tho, it has to change, just not with the silenced, it starts with the silencers.
Thanks for such a hopeful comment Cat. It is a message that I embrace. I fear however that things are too tribal for the electorate to slide towards the center for our country. While I do blame the news on each side for stoking the flames, the media are being provided a tremendous amount of material from our elected representatives in order for a fire to be burning at all.
I’m not sure how the left felt it would go by labeling, officially at the DOJ, parents in Virginia terrorists for speaking up at board meetings. Or how the right would respond when the people they elected to speak on their behalf were banned from speaking at all, in a representative republic, representation being the key. What happened to the ACLU? Those are 2 examples of hundreds. I doubt the left can show me a single example in the opposite direction. Regardless, it is the silencers that can affect change, not the silenced. I’m in it for the longhaul and a heck of a come to Jesus moment on left is all that’s required. Just as saw here yesterday, it will always be about silencing dissent for many on the left. I prefer constructive conversation but I won’t be silenced ever again.
Good for you..
I wonder if he feels better now thats he’s moved up a space?
My reaction to that would be to S L O W way down.
I think our politicians, the news media and big business having a monopoly have caused people to have anger management issues. Try calling Xfinity and tell them you can’t afford cable any more and ask for a lower rate. Or call GE for warrenty issues on your kitchen range. Or better yet try and get something repaired on your RV.
I choose to wait in a line for the self-checkout!
Gail you handled that situation like an intelligent human!☮️✌🏻
I heard a saying once a long time ago. Not sure who said it: ‘You can’t have a battle of wit with a witless person’.
Yep. Billy “Zip It!!”.
I don’t know if people are more angry now than sometime in the past or not, but I suspect they are. Many aspects of my life have changed so my perspective may be wrong. I now live in retirement on a 120-acre tract that was my family’s farm after decades of living in metro Washington, DC. I am too busy restoring and maintaining the farm to get out much. I can say that driving is not especially pleasant relative to the solitary work around the farm. Many of the farms that were near us have become subdivisions — Chattanooga is growing in our direction now after decades of going in other directions. I do think that the congestion created by lots of people newly arrived from somewhere else living in a newly created subdivision may make it easier to become angry, at least here. The reality here is changing almost daily and expectations are lagging, seemingly always exceeding the reality. I think it is easier to become angry when one’s expectation is greater than the reality.
I for one am angry. It will never consume me though, because I find idiocy so very entertaining. If you can’t laugh at the absurdity then you have lost the plot. It is in comedy that the light will shine through and when the absurd policies of a society become a point of laughter, it is then worth all the ridicule it receives. Not in anger but in the truth that is the underbelly of all comedy.
I love your response to the angry shopper. May we all be so willing to be kind…thank you!
What Andrea said. 🙂❤️
I choose to wait in a line for the self-checkout lanes.
Not me. I don’t want to contribute to the elimination of peoples jobs.
TRUE!! Well Stated, Charlie..
All the angry Bob’s we meet vent about “the other political party”. They’ve let it consume them with anger – to a point that they believe their views on the situation here in this great land are the only truths. It’s a shame this country’s come to this. They believe there’s only one right answer, one right way to run this country, and that’s their own.
Absolutely agree Tom E. Interesting isn’t it as it doesn’t matter who is running the gov’t.
I agree with you both. We are lacking solutions based pragmatism. Name calling doesn’t seem to be working anymore.
We snowbird in the same place every year and most of the people are just like us, give or take ten years or so. But, we do come from different states where the politics may be different. We all try to moderate our comments so we don’t offend and can all enjoy our time in the sun. That makes bobbing in the pool and playing cards together much more enjoyable.
The underlying issue is a lack of compassion, empathy, and tolerance, probably due to a lack of education about those principles. If you’re one who is prone to argue, especially online and in hateful ways, just ask yourself, “Why do I care?” Learn to just let others be who they choose to be and move on with your life. For those attacked by hateful people, it’s best to not engage, as you will likely never get them to consider an alternative. Again, just move on with your life and try to avoid such people.
Amen! I try to never argue with a fool if at all possible, can’t win that argument.
And when you argue with a fool, now you have 2 fools arguing with each other.