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Fact

It’s just too hot to stay calm

I think everyone must have experienced this – people are getting angrier. For example, at work if you are not getting instructions very clearly, the boss can have a heated argument, sometimes resulting in misunderstandings that last for weeks. On the rods or in the Metro, you see people pushing each other, refusing to shift away from the gates, because everybody wants to be closest to the door. In the process, we end up exchanging foul words with each other.

Why? First of all, I think the weather makes a difference. It’s too hot. Even I can sometimes utter words that are not acceptable, especially when we are outside and experience the heat, or are stuck in traffic or waiting for the bus without any shelter. And when this happens, we are often looking for someone to blame, which is not acceptable. But it is probably because we are perspiring and irritated. Also, life has become more expensive and salaries don’t increase. Economic factors and everyday payments can have an effect. I see how my neighbors are irritated when they get calls from banks following up on their loans.

Yelling or shouting sometimes is our way of expressing the frustrations we feel, we complain and shout as a way to release our anger. Once that’s done, we gradually calm down and feel better. But that is definitely not a healthy way to deal with our feelings.

When you look at politics, whether in the Philippines or in other countries, we see a lot more anger and disagreement. Of course it is not acceptable, we always expect politicians to use good words. Also, shouting or using bad words won’t always give you a positive result in the world of politics. Many people see this playing out and have now become accustomed to that level of anger. It has become more acceptable. But I believe that speaking calmly and sweetly, without reacting, shouting or confronting people will help you get greater respect in life.

From Ms Corazon Tarcena

Receptionist working in Dubai

New culture

Platforms like Twitter enable ‘constant rage’

Unlike the previous generations, suddenly people are expected to multitask throughout life. Since their parents didn’t go through this, people aren’t brought up to deal with such an environment. People adjusting to this pattern of life is making them increasingly aggressive. I think the next generations to come will be brilliant at this. But all this aggression is making humans not only hurt each other, but also animals.

Incompatibility of cultures can fuel anger between people. Certain practices are customary in some cultures, in others they are frowned upon. For example, consuming meat can be a basic practice to some, howevr it can be considered animal abuse to others.

Another aspect is technology. The abundance of online sources can be overwhelming and misleading. People are developing opinions about different religious and cultural groups just from reading online. People are getting increasingly opinionated.

I thinks it is good that platforms like Twitter have given people a chance to voice concerns. However, sometimes people use them to express constant outrage. Feminists are constantly venting about men, politicians are always fighting. This is cultivating an “angry culture.”

While, I don’t think we are at our angriest point in history right now, we are certainly frustrated. We have had more difficult times such as the world wars.

I don’t think uncivil behavior is acceptable in today’s society. However, I would say that people are definitely able to voice their opinions now, through online platforms. The problem lies within the opinions. Personal judgements can’t necessarily be right or wrong but often we come across issues that are dealt with unwisely. Technology has only assisted in this process. But venting and debating has always been a trait of human nature.

From Ms Emaan Asad

Computer Systems graduate living in Sharjah

Context

You are now more free to express emotions

I do not think people are unable to deal with issues because of the fast-paced lifestyle. Anger has always been there. It’s just that we now can release such emotions in many more ways, assisted by technology, such as social media. Have we become more accepting of uncivil behaviour, then? This depends on what you mean by “uncivil.” Our boundaries are definitely being challenged in the age of information technology. Social norms are slowly changing. How we express our anger is learned. It’s a behaviour that varies from culture to culture. With globalisation, these cultural differences are getting wiped out gradually. This may explain why some people who come from societies that discourage people from expressing their emotions freely are now more likely to express their emotions.

There’s a spurious correlation between temperature and crime rate. It depends on what kind of crime we are talking about, what kind of crimes are frequently reported, and how crime statistics are collected. We should also be careful when making such an argument. Seasonal changes and temperature fluctuations certainly lead to behavioural changes. But social conditions are much more powerful in explaining crimes and other social problems.

It is probably true that our minds are not able to prioritise tasks very well because we have so many things to do.

From Dr Yuting Wang

Associate Professor in Sociology at American University of Sharjah

On the edge

We are living in a world that does not encourage the natural production of dopamine

I was speaking with a friend this week and he was telling me about how people in our home country, Italy, were also very angry, whether because of the economic crisis or the dysfunctional management of the immigration issue. He said that the situation was just not sustainable. We can assume, without over-generalising, that it is a worldwide phenomenon and is probably due to the fact that we are passing through a phase which is unpredictable and unstable. So many things are happening in terms of economic and political instability, we are passing through a global change, but the direction of this change is not yet clear. This is what makes people agitated – the feeling of not being in control. It increases the level of preoccupation, stress and frustration. I hope and believe that the change will be good. But the fact that we are in the middle of it is not good.

If you look at the political events of the last few years, the world reached a stage where we needed a change of direction, because the direction we had been on so far did not pay back well. When people are angry, there are a lot of politicians who are able to ride this anger and then they sink to appeal to our lowest instincts – racism, disappointment, frustration. You see people being elected that in other moments and normal circumstances, you would never see elected.

Also, life became objectively much more challenging in the past 30-40 years. My grandpa had one bank account, one phone line and no codes to remember. Today, we have pins, passwords, usernames … just remembering all this information increases our level of stress.

Summer also has an effect. I come from a Mediterranean country, where I find the level of anger increasing in July and August. Fortunately, in the UAE, things don’t go out of control because of the high level of discipline and safety, unlike my country or any other place.

Another aspect is technology – if you look at where we are today, it is a perversion of the progress of technology. When we were young, we expected that technology would help make our lives easier, we would have to work less and we would be able to enjoy more free time. Our lives would be easier. But in reality, you can see it complicated our lives and made it more difficult to handle. This is something that probably should be adjusted. Also, consider this – dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers) is released when people get validation on social media.
Basically, if I am distressed in life, I log on to social media for relief. It guarantees a production of dopamine that is temporary and when I go back to the situation I was avoiding, it is just as bad if not worse.

You get used to receiving a boost of dopamine through an outside source so your inner production of dopamine reduces. We can’t say if the dopamine addiction is because of social media, but definitely it is not a remedy. You can learn how to produce this dopamine in a healthy way – whether through meditation or by not exposing yourself to stressful situations. Otherwise, you will not be able to find the balance you need.

Unfortunately, we have to live and perform in a world that does not promote the natural release of dopamine or beneficial hormones like serotonin or positive endorphins. It actually encourages the production of stress-related hormones.

Dr Andrea Tosatto

Clinical Psychologist based in Dubai

— Compiled by Falah Gulzar, Special to Gulf News

and Huda Tabrez, Community Web Editor

Gulf News asked: Are we getting angrier?

Yes

No