I tend to vent my spleen on my blog… As you regular readers will attest to… Other bloggers often do too… In fact, I was the subject of a rather angry tirade just recently, a website championing its ability to police claims of pseudo science called me and my hypnosis methods a bunch of names and upset my wife when she read it… I guess when you make a living using your own name and face as the front of your brand, it is tough not to take things personally and it can feel a bit vulnerable at times.
Not all of us blog under a pseudonym or hide behind behind a created blog identity, so I probably need to wise up and stop taking things so sensitively or personally.
Yet, the comments that ensued this particular blog were destructive, baying for blood of some sort… A real lynch mob mentality… name calling and threats of virtual vandalism being made… All because I suggest that hypnosis can make physiological changes in people… Okay, I want to stop making this purely about me and start making this about the subject at hand… Is this mode of communication making people more angry? Let me explain…
I f0llow lots of blogs, when I get up in the mornings, I check on my followed blogs updates and I reply to the emails I got overnight… May be these are partially responsible for the increase in anger of recent years.
We can learn a lot about the emotions that motivate many blogs and emails, as well as reactions to them. I am certain that you read a text or an email and got the tone completely wrong… That perhaps you interpreted it in a way that it really was not meant…
Most of us know this train of thought I am about to repeat… Anger, is the fight part of that primitive fight/flight/freeze response common to all mammals… I think anger is quite primal too… And even though the link may seem obscure right now… It is leading to blogs and emails, I promise 🙂
When that fight/flight response kicks in, it requires a bit of ambivalence… A combined perception of threat and vulnerability. Animals respond to lesser threats with greater anger, fear, or submission (the freeze reaction) …
To establish rank and executive power without the benefit of language, social animals cleverly invoke the old fight/flight response. The threat of being destroyed is lowest for the more powerful animals, which gives them the advantage of anger in competition for top of the hierarchy.
What about the potential of that threat? A raccoon will
ferociously fight a rat to defend her newborn pups, but not a cougar…
Therefore more anger is observed in powerful animals, which tend to be
predatory. Powerful animals use anger to defend and acquire territory
and resources, thereby reducing threats to themselves.
For the less powerful, submission or fleeing makes more sense. In social animals, anger goes to the powerful… We know that the central nervous systems of all animals seek equilibrium — they can take just so much anger and only so much fear. Solitary animals achieve a balance by isolation, social animals by acceptance of some sort, from the hierarchy.
With human neo-cortical development came self-consciousness and the incorporation of status into the emerging sense of self or ego… At that point humans became creators of value — the ability to regard something as important, above and beyond merely surviving — now we feel we deserve rewards in return for investments of time, energy, effort, appreciation, and sacrifice.
Status was not just a means of access to resources, it became a separate entity, a kind of value of the self that carried an entitlement to receive value from others in the form of social approval.
And so we have a big contradiction — there is our need for individual value which tends to struggle with the need to be part of a larger, hierarchical social organisation.
So if you inflate the ego too much, the social organisation suffers. Inflate the hierarchy too much, and the ego suffers… We’ve all seen it happen, throughout history, haven;t we?
Individual ego was often oppressed by powerful members of the hierarchy through use of force, dogma, and tradition… Look at certain stages in our own history… There have been times when only chiefs, kings, noblemen, priests, husbands, parents, and Caucasian males could have big egos and express entitlement and anger!
I think we’d all recognise things changing somewhat… We now tend to recognise that everyone’s ego has value — children are as valuable as parents, wives are equal to husbands; dark-skinned and light-skinned, patients and doctors, lesser educated and educated, hypnosis bloggers and science-only bloggers, at least in theory — are equally valuable. 🙂
The Internet has accelerated the movement toward this kind of culture even more. Blogs and emails make everyone’s opinions equally valuable… And accessible.
Unfortunately, status was incorporated into the development of ego so long ago that we tend to search for ways in which we are better than some and not as good as others… There seems to be an inherent comparative nature to that culture.
Some might think that blogs and emails have increased perceptions of status-embedded ego vulnerability and threat… Does that then stimulate more anger, resentment, and defiance? Some might think so.
When the vulnerable ego feels threatened, the expression of opinions become opinionated and analysis of evidence and concepts gives way to dogma… I am sure I am guilty of this from time to time and as a result seek out more tolerance…
I doubt that humans will ever totally unattach status from ego and achieve a truly utopian ideal of any kind… I do think though that we can come closer by seeing the grand human contradiction (the need for individual ego and connection to a social hierarchy) not as a struggle for dominance between two forces but as a delicate balance worth preserving.
We can begin by drawing self-value from sticking to our deeper values, including a sense of basic humanity… We then tend to require less of the value from others in the form of respect, deference, and the need for agreement with what we say.
I suppose our egos then become less vulnerable and we’d have less need to protect them, no? I would hope that would allow us to learn from other perspectives and enjoy the development of knowledge inherent in disagreements about evidence, concepts, and use of language… And if I believe in hypnosis as a way of bringing about physiological change, that does not have to mean that I am game to be insulted, threatened and upset by those who do not believe in it…
So, in non-angry form, attempting to be enlightened, I’ll wander away from the blog today… And needless to say, I’ll start foaming at the mouth about something later this week instead… I’ll maintain the balance… 🙂
Oh yes. I’m back. Back after two days off work (every one else calls it the Weekend but I tend to work most weekends but the doctor said the dizzy spells were probably caused by me working too much so I spent last weekend lying on the bed, reading Guy Du Maupassant short stories and reading texts from my other half along the lines of how and why she thinks Welsh rugby player Shane Williams is sexy).
Even before I started blogging, people were setting up websites to have a go at me. Seriously, I reviewed one band’s album and, on reflection, I was a tad cocky about how bad I thought it was and all of a sudden he’s set up this website telling the world how much of a w***** I am. The worst bit was reading all the comments from people agreeing with him. Most people take the opportunity to get to know me before deciding on a scale of 1 to 10 how much of a plonker I am. If anyone’s interested, my girlfriend guesses about a 4 or 5 on the scale.
Then there was that football game on the PS2 I reviewed. I read the comments about that review on my birthday in 2005. All of them were basically along the lines of “you know where you can shove your review Mr Drury….”
Last week, my sister (a teacher) was sent a very abusive email by a pupil. The pupil apologised and was very upset about the whole thing and he admitted he had no grounds for complaint about anything and he’d just been venting his anger. Granted, my first reaction- as the older brother- was to go down their and nuke the pupil but that’s a natural reaction from a family member and I don’t know too many ex KGB operatives so I couldn’t get my hands on any warheads.
As anyone can discover if they go through last weeks posts on your blog, you and I don’t quite see eye to eye on everything. Which is fantastic. If I may be so bold as to say so, having a debate with you allows my mind to develop and makes me a better person as a result.
On the odd occasion, we disagree. But even when we disagree, I have huge respect for you as an inspiration to me and someone who has helped so many people improve their lives. I mean come on, you’ve quite obviously got work coming out your ears and yet there you are again, running the London Marathon to try and raise money to make other people’s lives better. You’ve just got to give a guy who does that sort of thing respect.
Seriously, I wouldn’t worry about the self appointed pseudo science police. The way I look at it, if you can’t be respectful to the people you disagree with, you lose the debate- no matter how strong your argument might be.
So the self appointed pseudo science police have already lost the argument and, as apparent guardians of all that is rational in the world, they really are doing themselves no favours by venting insults and being aggressive. I’m really sorry to hear that their comments upset your wife. If you want my opinion, some of it has got to come down to jealousy. I mean, you’re successful, well liked and I’ve seen your wedding photos on Facebook and you’ve also got a gorgeous wife.
I think you have every right to get angry at these idiots but, at the end of the day, you’re an inspiration to loads of people who do know you and to thousands who don’t. Not bad and a whole lot better than those purveyors of aggressive insults shouting in the dark could ever manage.
You might have noticed that some of my comments in this post were a touch on the “flattering” side. Well, I’ve got a favour to ask. No. Don’t look worried. It’s nothing bad. I’m raising money for Comic Relief and I wondered if you’d sponsor me?
More details at: http://www.justgiving.com/thelaughinglinguist.
Challenge The Laughing Linguist in the Battle of the Funny Phrases. Raise Money for Comic Relief.
Thanks Marty 🙂
You made me feel better.
Oh and by the way, did you see http://www.justgiving.com/adam-eason ?
Thanks Adam. Yes I did see that website. Have been meaning to sponsor you for a while and I’m just about to do so. All the best, Marty.