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Online Anger: Where It Comes From and How to Control It:
An admission: I have, on occasion, been an asshole on the Intarwebs. While I don’t agree that “disgruntled customers” complaining about companies is as bad a thing as online harassment and cyberbullying, this article has some useful info. Andrea Weckerle writes at the Good Men Project:
When people are harassed, attacked or intimidated, what’s really going on is that someone is trying to take away their voice and browbeat them into submission. That’s not okay and it’s not an effective persuasion method. Unfortunately, with a low barrier to entry and the ability to remain anonymous or hide behind a pseudonym, coupled with instant dissemination, global reach, and the inability to fully retract statements, everything is amplified online. Poor self-control and anger management feed right into this. There’s a lot of hyper-aggressive posturing online, venting for the sake of venting, and being intentionally provocative just to get a reaction out of others. It’s as though some people are stuck in perpetual adolescence where being oppositional is a way of life. More often than not they don’t take into consideration the negative effect their behavior has on others or the reputational harm they’re inflicting on themselves.My book “Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks,” devotes a whole chapter to anger and anger management. And, not surprisingly, there are gender differences:
Socially there are differences between who is allowed to express anger without stigmatization and who isn’t. For example, anger is generally considered more acceptable in men than in women. According to anger researcher Raymond DiGiuseppe, Ph.D., professor and chair of the psychology department at St. John’s University, men express their anger more physically than women and are more passive aggressive, whereas women hold on to their anger longer and don’t express their anger as openly as men do. Yale University psychologist Victoria Brescoll, co-author with Eric Uhlmann of the research article “Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead? Status
Conferral, Gender, and Expression of Emotion in the Workplace,” noted, “For men, expressing anger may heighten status: Men who expressed anger in a professional context were generally conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness. For women, however, expressing anger had the opposite effect: Professional women who expressed anger were consistently accorded lower status and lower wages, and were seen as less competent, than angry men and unemotional women.
We need to keep in mind that anger on its own isn’t the problem. Anger is a normal and even healthy and appropriate emotion is certain situations. But it’s when anger is expressed negatively and becomes destructive to others or oneself that we need to sound the alarm. So what are some of the things that people can do to more effectively manage their anger? Here are things to consider:
- Learn how to properly label the emotions you’re experiencing. Feeling annoyed or frustrated is different than feeling furious, and recognizing this will help you decide what an appropriate action in a given instance might be.
- Find out what your anger triggers are. What issues tend to set you off, what people rub you the wrong way? Knowing this ahead of time will help you brace against them.
- Recognize your own physical manifestations of anger, such as feeling flushed, or experiencing an accelerated heart rate or tensed muscles, so you can take action corrective action before you erupt.
- Guard against cognitive errors such as making faulty assumptions about the intent behind someone’s statement, overgeneralizing an event in terms of its negative impact, or using anger as an emotional defense mechanism for an underlying problem.
- Learn how long it usually takes you to become angry and how long it takes you to calm down again. Commit to not responding to an anger trigger while you’re still in the midst of feeling badly.
- Decide if, when, and how you’re going to respond to something that bothers you online. Remember that in many cases, you get to decide these things.
- If you’re required to respond, practice self-distancing, which means taking a detached view of what’s happening and avoiding becoming emotionally tangled up in it.
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