random · women

angry, angry, angry…


A friend told me this morning that apparently anger is the difference between those who survive and those who don’t. That sounded kind of profound. The more I think about it, the more I think she might be right.

I’m not really an angry person… in fact, when I’m angry it’s more than likely I’m just frustrated… but the symptom is anger, so I’ll go with that.

So, why am I angry?

  • Networks – I’m angry at the power of networks. I know… sounds crazy, but when you’re not IN a network, networks can be very intimidating and not particularly inclusive. Networks can be hard to break into. Networks are powerful only for those who are a part of them, and part of their power can be keeping people out – although not necessarily deliberately the effect is the same.
  • Perception – I’m angry that people who are important and clever seem to look a certain way or have a certain energy about them. God knows what this look or energy might be, but there must be something that makes it so easy for people to pass others over as being obviously not important.
  • Self Promotion – I’m angry that self promotion, or the promotion/visibility that someone receives is not necessarily related to the quality or value of work that they do. It’s more often related to how shameless and loud their voice, with amplication effects via networks (see above).

OK. So the world’s not a fair place, and perhaps I should be louder and braver and more self assured… but sometimes I feel as though if these are the rules of the game, then perhaps I’d rather start a whole other game to play.

Image Credit: Maureen Fischinger @ Flickr

15 thoughts on “angry, angry, angry…

  1. This reminds me of Eric Berne’s book, ‘Games People Play’ (it’s really good). People in positions of power often get there because they’re good at playing these games. But these tactics can often be about covering up insecurities, inaqeduacies etc. My personal belief is that its the really smart people (like you ;-)) who don’t need to play them, and who see through them.

  2. I agree with Tara. Do get angry but then relax and pity those poor, insecure creatures who can’t help but make other people’s lives more difficult for no other reason than they are too scared of being shown up.

    Though sometimes a good smack in the face (not literal of course) is required!

  3. eh. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as angry at myself as I am at anyone else.

    I’m angry that I’m not as brave with networking as I’d like to be.

    I’m angry that I always question whether telling people about something that I’ve done is crossing the line from sharing to being completely up-yourself (technical term, sorry)

    I’m angry that while I always tend to assume that people know what they’re talking about and have the experience and ability to back it up, that they often don’t.

    I’m angry that so many of my sentences start with a disclaimer or an apology.

    I’m angry that I stay out of some networks because they’re full of confrontational males and I’m not really into confrontation.

    So it’s as much about me as it is about ‘them’.

    But I’m really angry that I don’t really know what I want to do about it. Because I don’t want to become *like* ‘them’ (even though I find myself analysising how they communicate to work out how they do it so confidently and strongly), but I don’t just want to fade back and give up either.

    And most of all I’m angry that ‘they’ would *never* write a post like this, and I have. That really bugs me.

  4. oooh! just glanced at another post on another mailing list and remembered another thing that makes me angry.

    I’m angry that people post stuff to mailing lists (ok, i’m talking about (SIGIA-L) that is so OBVIOUSLY incomprehensible to the average human being, and incredibly difficult for someone who *could* comprehend it to wade through it.

    Posting to a list should be able sharing an idea or an opinion or a piece of knowledge NOT about trying to make yourself look incredibly clever.

    You may be clever, but your a crap communicator.

    Heh. This is turning into a lovely venting session… (will I have to delete this post or will it turn into several more posts?)

    Anyone else want to join in?

  5. I have to say I disagree on the basic assumption.

    Personally I think anger is a mask for other more complex emotions. We experience envy or jealousy, or the feeling of being ignored or looked over or not recognized. Then, rather than being able to articulate these feelings, we just turn away from them and turn to anger instead.

    A much better and more healthy reaction is to pause for a moment, find out where they painful emotions are coming from and then find a way to express them in a non-confrontational balanced way. Not easy to do, but a hundred times more constructive imho

  6. hey Olly… Am I contradicting myself if I say that I agree with you?

    I agree that anger is the symptom, and this blog post was trying to be a way to reflect and try to articulate and potentially understand what it was that was causing the anger. Although, I’ll admit that in that last comment I did get sidetracked into just being angry.

    Anger is a much easier and much stronger way to express the other feelings you’ve listed. Feeling envious or jealous or ignored… these are weak and unpowerful feelings.

    Choosing to write about being angry rather than being ignored is probably part of the public performance of blogging… but also a part of staying in there and being resilient. It’s a high energy response rather than a slump.

    (Eh, this is turning into such a touchy feely post now!)

    The end goal, I think, is to be not angry. But sometimes being angry is a useful vehicle to the end goal… as long as you don’t lose sight (which, for a moment (see comment 6), i think i definitely did!)

    thanks for the feedback :)

  7. I agree anger is a stronger emotion. But I think it is almost never constructive. When someone is angry they tend to rant and the end result is usually unformed and misguided. The ‘real’ reason… the interesting part, is masked by the anger.

    Anger also tends to put the recipient into defensive mode, meaning they stop listening and tend to reflexively start to argue back. Anger is not an inviting / inclusive emotion, rather a confrontational one.

    But yes, sometimes we do need to just vent :)

  8. How about anger as a trigger; the trigger to make the ‘pause’?

    Anger is a great prompt to stop and ask oneself what the problem is and, in that respect, it is entirely constructive. How one deals with anger is not uniform to all. I get very angry when cars drive too closely to me when I am on my cycle (I shout at them but I am cross with myself for not being visible enough, not noticing they were an inconsiderate git,…). Anger is the bit that reflects the fear but fear on its own can be very paralysing.

    Anger isn’t always about confrontation with a recipient, it is very often, for me at least, the thing that makes me ask why on earth I care.

    Anger isn’t a bad emotion. It is just an emotion. What comes next could be good or bad.

  9. Its not that anger is bad its the ‘lashing out’ that usually goes along with it. For the most part anger is unhelpful, negitive and saps energy. I should know, my first reaction is usually to get mad (at them, at me, at the world).

    Expressing anger is also the easy way out – the path of least resistance. Keeping it in ain’t so hot either but using it cleaverly is what I envy in those extroverts that drive us all mad.

  10. OK. I’ve been giving this more thought overnight. I definitely think that anger is not an ideal state to be in indefinitely. And that it’s best to not be angry if you can.

    BUT, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re being frustrated or treated inappropriately, then it is ok to be angry, provided that you then make a big effort to try to use the ENERGY that is generated by that anger for good and not evil. (Good being towards trying to resolve the issues that caused the anger in the first place. Evil = aggression, inappropriate confrontation, violence etc.)

    The way I see it, when you find your self in a situation where you *might* become angry, the alternative is accepting a situation that is not good… call it apathy.

    I’d rather have the energy of anger and to try to channel it positively than to slump back in apathy.

    (oh, and yes I do have a channel for good at the moment… not sure if it will work but it’s worth a try… and yes, I’m feeling a little less angry. Most of the time).

  11. I find that anger is often a recognition that whatever I’m angry about is very important to me. I’ve experienced those same thoughts you expressed about in-groups and self-promotion when I first tried to get involved in the IA community in 2001. So I stopped trying.

    I realized that a lot of my anger (phrased like your opening statements) was really around my own feelings of being dismissed. I couldn’t understand why, if I was trying to share and be a part of the community, they wouldn’t want to have a member who could bring a new perspective (by having solved similar problems in a related domain). This is common in an academic setting.

    It’s also common in an area where the discipline itself is insecure. In 2001, the entire IA community was insecure. They had a hard time defining the work that they did and boundaries around that. I now believe that some of the behaviour of the leaders in my local community was really stemming from their own insecurity rather than being dismissive of my experience.

    Of course, I couldn’t have that realization at that time, so I was just angry.

    So, I would recommend looking inside to see if there is something about the anger which violates your own sense of ethics or view of the world. Unfortunately, politics are everywhere. People are always in competition for jobs and recognition. You can either join the game in a way that doesn’t violate your ethics or you can sit and stew on the sidelines.

    I had decided to sit and stew on the sidelines. That was me in 2001. This year, I will try and play the game. :)

    Best wishes for getting over the anger soon. :)

  12. “The way I see it, when you find your self in a situation where you *might* become angry, the alternative is accepting a situation that is not good… call it apathy.”
    At the risk of sounding patronising, that’s not apathy if you make a conscious decision to accept it. There are many things that are potentially upsetting, but which I have no control over, and becoming angry about them damages me more than the object of my anger. That blather about accepting the things you cannot change yada yada actually works. There’s no need to get angry.
    Well, except when working with Telstra.

  13. hey Rachel… perhaps I’m over-estimating myself but I feel that the things that I’m being angry about at the moment are things that are open to change… Not necessarily that I can change them by myself, but perhaps I can help change the momentum and eventually, with the help of others, see some change. (Although, even as I write that I do feel little like a teenage idealist…)

    I agree that consciously accepting a situation is not always apathy. But I think that is also sometimes IS apathy. I think you can be consciously apathetic sometimes.

    But I do see your point. It’s kind of like picking battles, yes?

    Veronika – lots of what you’ve written sounds very familiar. Look forward to seeing you back in ‘the games’ again :) Hopefully it will be a somewhat different experience this time!

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