Good arguments have fallen on hard times. Because for many nowadays, emotions rule. Countable, tangible facts are discounted. Now, feelings in and of themselves are not bad. And rigorous rationality alone is rarely a sound guide. Except that there are feelings and there are feelings. Positive ones. And those that are downright negative. Aggressiveness, for example. Or rage. Anyone in a state of rage is permanently in defense mode, constantly defending his views. He even has to defend himself if he is not being attacked at all. And since the best defense is a good offense, he launches these attacks himself. Not the best basis for productive conversations or discussions.
When Emotions Gain the Upper Hand
The whole point of communication is to exchange ideas. Emphasis on exchange. There is no communication if one just stubbornly fires off his opinion with the intention of simply flattening his opponent. Counter-arguments from a content-related perspective: Wrong indication. Listening: Which isn’t occurring, either. The odds of having a real conversation or an honest discussion: zero. Doesn’t sound like anything good or productive can come of this. But unfortunately, this attitude and way of approaching discussions has become quite widespread.
Has Rage Become More or Less Acceptable in Genteel Society?
Anger has become quite a common style of communication. And not only among that segment of our society that commonly perpetrates rage and fury. Otherwise normal and rational students think that today it is entirely appropriate to hinder and obstruct massive events if they do not like the prevailing opinion of the people holding the event. Every demonstration encounters the angry counter-demonstration, whose aim is only to shout the other protesters down. Is it any wonder that even our politicians today resort more quickly to anger which replaces even well-thought-out arguments?
The Internet Makes Things Worse
Aggressive positions have the great advantage in social media that they simply garner more attention. This generates clicks and likes, the currency of today’s information economy. And it clearly clarifies the camps. At the same time, anger creates opposing aggression. This is an ugly effect where people goad each other with their posts. And is exacerbated by immediacy. A tweet on Twitter cannot be retracted, can start trending worldwide in seconds, and may be disseminated thousands of times over.
How Can Rage be Removed from Conflict?
It is not easy to deal with anger constructively. A person can quickly become a victim if they are not careful. But it is worth it. Based on my experience, one can also confront those who are angry with their behavior. Expose them. Because there isn’t much behind their angry facade. Just anger. Try it. Try it the next time you are dealing with someone who only cultivates anger. Do not go along with his hysteria. Stay calm. Trust in well-reasoned arguments. Help to revive a culture of communication deserving of the name.