Seeing Red?

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4800831_ccc91cf769_qWe’ve all heard the expression “seeing red.” As it turns out, though, it’s not just a metaphor. People really do associate the color red with anger and, according to a 2013 article in Emotion, the color red influences whether or not we perceive anger in a particular situation.

The authors conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis that “the psychological meaning implied by the color red biases the processing of anger expressions” (Young et al., 2013, p. 380). In the first experiment, they found that participants were more likely to perceive anger in faces that were viewed on a red background. In the second, they found that the color red did not generalize to other negative emotions like fear. In other words, the emotional impact of the color red was unique to anger.

Photo Courtesy: Lorentey

Tuesday Tip: Meditate

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Many people think of guided meditation as a particular type of relaxation technique.  While it is relaxing, it has the potential to be even more useful than that.  Relaxation has its effect on by decreasing physiological arousal (you can’t be angry and relaxed at the same time).  Meditation, however, has the added benefit of offering an opportunity to think through your feelings in a healthy way.

Click her to give it a try: Guided Meditation for Anger

Photo Courtesy: jakub_hla

Anger Quotes: Aristotle

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index“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

-Aristotle

Tuesday Tip: Try Not to Rant

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On the one hand, talking with people about your anger can be useful and positive.  It can give you some perspective, help you process what  you are feeling and better understand  your emotions, and even offer an avenue to receive some constructive criticism regarding how you handled a situation.

That said, that’s only true if you are looking for perspective, understanding, and constructive criticism.  Most people aren’t.  Most people are just looking for another person to agree with them that they should be angry.  That’s ok every now and then but too much of it isn’t good for you.  If you want to rant, go for it. But make sure you do some self-reflecting at the same time.

Understanding the “Drive-By Nasty”

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Last week, I did an interview with Christopher Gabriel on WDAY about online anger (you can hear it here). He asked me, specifically, about some angry tweets that he labeled “drive-by nasties.” These are tweets or Facebook posts where the author doesn’t attempt to have a dialogue or any sort of civil discourse but, rather, just says something cruel or hurtful and disappears.

I took a look today and found a couple of examples (I didn’t have to look very hard).

A tweet about the economy from President Obama was met with this.

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A Guardian Facebook post about Hillary Clinton was met with this (note how many times it was “liked” as well).

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A Huffington Post Facebook post about Washington state’s new marijuana law that says that you can’t sell anything that may appeal strongly to kids was met with this.

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And even a Huffington Post Facebook post with cute pictures of dogs and babies was met with this.

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I’ve addressed online anger plenty here but these are particularly interesting because the authors don’t seem to want to have a discussion. In many cases, people responded to these posts but the authors didn’t respond back. It’s not that they were trying to start a fight, necessarily. It’s more that they just want to unload without having to deal with the consequences.

So what are these drive-bys all about?

It seems like there are a couple of thing going on. Obviously, we have people who are angry, judgmental, and disproving. They are upset about something and they want to let the world know about it. That’s actually a lot of people, though, and most of us don’t take to Twitter or Facebook to tell people off and then run away from the conflict that follows. What really stands out here is that they don’t want to be challenged in response. They want to be heard but they don’t want to listen.

I can’t help but wonder if at the root of these is a lack of confidence. They have strong beliefs but don’t really feel comfortable in defending those beliefs. People who feel secure in their positions are willing to stick around and discuss them. It’s likely insecurity that drives people away from the post-comment argument.

It’s unfortunate because social networking provides such great potential to have real conversations about complex issues. It could be (and is) used to bring smart people together from across the globe to discuss and solve problems. We can’t do that, though, if people continue to use it as dumping ground for their disapproval and frustration.