Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | ePaper
Anger Making Other People Rich
Two Problems to Keep in Mind
More people are angrier more of the time now than ever before. We're in the midst of an anger epidemic.
And it's making some people lots of money. Here's how it works:
On the internet, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and any other platform you've ever visited, there's a complete record of everything you've ever looked at.
Anyone with access to this record can immediately see the things you're interested in, the things you like, the things you don't like, and the things you're likely to get very angry about.
Marketers, representing a wide variety of different corporate and political backgrounds, want potential customers or followers to click on their sites. And they've discovered that the best way to guarantee a click is to make sure their site arouses emotion.
And the best emotion for guaranteeing a favorable click is anger.
So, marketers, political organizations, and corporations have a financial stake in getting you angry!
It makes them money. The more people who click on their site, the more they can charge the advertisers who advertise with them.
The major national newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journaland The Washington Post, all employ fact-checkers. These are people whose sole responsibility is to ensure that the information contained in the newspapers is factually accurate.
There is no such position, or acceptance of that responsibility, on the internet. People on the internet can say anything they want, however untrue, with no fear of any consequences.
So, more and more sites post untrue things deliberately designed to make people angry. Those sites make them money, and all the rest of us end up with an anger epidemic.
The guiding principle of our country used to be "E Pluribus Unum" (One out of many). But now, more than anything, our dominant philosophy seems instead to be "us against them."
The current rise in anger is very harmful to our individual health, and also to our society as a whole.
Dr. Chris Aiken, Professor of clinical psychiatry at Wake Forest Medical School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, stated that, during the two hours after experiencing an anger episode, the chance of having a heart attack is more than double.
And Harvard University scientists have discovered that, when healthy people evenrecall an angry experience, there is a six-hour lowering of the antibody immunoglobulin A,a chemical that is critical for a healthy immune system.
A big result of our anger epidemic isn't just its negative influence on our individual health, but also the way it polarizes our society.
The Pew Research Center has been documenting political and social trends in our country for many years. Their research shows that the defining feature in American politics today is a vast gap between liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, and between urban and rural populations.
School killings are at an all-time high, and the Harvard Divinity School Podcast has just documented a tremendous upsurge in recent hate crimes.
It is important to note here that although we're in an anger epidemic, not all anger is bad or harmful. Sometimes controlled anger can be a valuable, energizing force for addressing personal injustice, or for correcting systemic injustices in society.
Here are some tips for dealing with toxic anger in the future:
Â· Make a commitment to truth and accuracy in giving or accepting all information.
Â· Learn and use the valuable tools and strategies of critical thinking.
Â· Remember, there are people who are putting lots of time, energy and brainpower into getting you to believe false information and get angry. Don't fall for it!
Â· Don't take any item at face value, especially on the internet! If you're uncertain, verify!
Â· If you see any item that is very damning about someone you really can't stand, watch out! It's probably a trick.
Â· Slow down! People make lots of foolish mistakes simply because they're moving too fast. As the ancient Roman philosopher Suetonius said, "Make haste slowly."
Â· Remember: when you get angry, it often just makes other people rich. Is that really what you want?
(David Evans is an award-winning writer and mediator; EMMY Award (shared) for writing on "The Monkees"; Two Outstanding Case of the Year Awards for The Los Angeles County Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Program).