Angry is a kind of stupid

2012-06-28 14:21

Look, I’m not disputing that there are times when it is justifiable to be angry. I’m just saying… Angry people are dumb. Consistently. Being angry makes you think less clearly. Anger makes people unwilling to question, and unwilling to consider that they might be wrong; instead, they treat any suggestion that they are mistaken or confused as a personal insult. The angrier you get, the less competent you get.

Consider the protestors, outraged at China’s human rights record, protesting the Beijing Olympics. One sign slogan: “Would you have let Hitler’s Germany host the Olympics?” Well, you know, that’s a thing you can look up; the answer was yes. (Munich, 1936.)

Today, the Supreme Court ruled on a controversial health-care law, and upheld it, at least for now and in part. Response? Outraged opponents declare that they refuse to live in a country with socialized medicine, and are moving to Canada.

Or you could look at the hilarity of Ranaan Katz suing Google, a process which started when the ludicrously wealthy Katz decided that the best way to prevent people from viewing a picture of him he found unflattering was to sue a blogger about it. A poor blogger. So when she got pro bono representation, his lawyers threatened to sue them should they represent her. (Note: Normally you are not allowed to sue lawyers for representing their clients.)

Or basically anything, anywhere, relating to Charles Carreon, who has managed to obtain substantial Internet fame for threatening to sue not only a blogger he’s mad at, but charities that blogger is donating money to. Yes, really.

What all these things have in common is this: Someone is angry, and being angry they start attacking a thing which seems to them to be somehow incorrect or at fault, and then they can’t stop. They can’t say “hang on, this really is sort of silly”. They can’t say “okay, that was out of hand; I have legitimate gripes but I can’t justify that last statement.” They just have to run with it, and keep running.

So, the thing is. When you start finding that lots of people are attacking you or making fun of you? Stop and check whether you might actually be angry and making bad decisions. Or, alternatively, start a blog and post in lots of detail so the people who wonder what you’re thinking can find out. If you are okay with being a week’s Internet lulz, go for it.

Peter Seebach



  1. I think that, once you have been angry in public, it is very difficult (at least in modern America) to stop being angry in public. It’s tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing that ‘the other guy’ may used to truly hurt you, and which will certainly come back to haunt you in the future. I think that the theory of the game has induced a strategy where, once you throw down in public, you’re committed to following it through to either your opponent’s destruction, or your own.

    I find this completely odious and unreasonable. But what can you do? It’s easier to eradicate a disease than a meme.

    — Phil Nadeau · 2012-06-28 23:45 · #