Road rage used to be the big concern for stress levels. Experts, including doctors and insurance companies, warned the participating world to be careful of making another driver angry, and offered advice on temper control. Rage contributed to, or took the blame for, many preventable accidents and deaths. Whilst this issue is still a facet in most of our lives, a new threat has emerged over the horizon – in digital form. It is a binary code of expletives which has created unprecedented mayhem. The machines have taken over!
What psychologists have dubbed “IT rage” presents itself in two very distinctive but equally troublesome ways. According to the website psfk, IT rage ranks “higher than road rage amongst survey participants” in a new UK study. The form of IT rage addressed in the study involves users taking action against a gadget or device when they can’t make it work or it malfunctions. Three quarters of people, according to psfk, have hurled a gadget in a fit of rage, sworn or lost their temper. Even more disturbing is that 1 in 10 people have used alcohol to deal with technology rage.
Resentment and rage are not limited to actual technological failures. The trend toward bitterness and animosity on blog comments is even more disturbing, because the target of this rage is not a keyboard or a hard drive. It is a living being. A recent article in The Guardian (a major daily in the UK) recounted the experiences of a comedian who checked online comments to see how people were reacting to his television show. What he found shocked him. Comments included, “I hate Stewart Lee with a passion!” was one of the more polite statements. All of the negative and violent comments were anonymous. This type of response can be seen on almost every active blog.
Many, but by no means all, anonymous posters feel free to say things online that they would never say to another person’s face. Psychologists refer to this behaviour as “deindividuation.” It results from the withdrawal of social norms, as on the Internet identities are concealed. An example of this away from the digital world is Halloween, when people are masked and feel safer doing something because no one knows who they are.
Interestingly, deindividuation is the cause of road rage, as well. Very few pedestrians would yell at a fellow pedestrian who walked in front of them, but many drivers have no problem with screaming and shaking a fist at another driver who drives too slowly or cuts them off in traffic.
Some people have suggested doing away with anonymous comments to reduce vitriolic posts. This is unlikely to be implemented and unlikely to work in any case. Most likely, those with rage problems would simply find another way to express it. The real problem with technology rage is that the emotions are allowed to get out of hand in the first place. The move from road rage to comment rage and IT rage at inanimate objects simply underscores the need to learn emotional control.
Psychology Today suggests that these displays of anger are all displaced aggression, or “Kick the Dog Syndrome.”
When an individual fails to let go of a previous insult or injury, ruminating on that anger creates deep resentment which can easily be stirred – even after long periods of time. Someone who is angry about being reprimanded by the boss might turn that anger into an angry comment on a political blog. That comment, answered by someone else with displaced anger, then grows into a nasty, but anonymous, exchange. In another instance, the employee angry with the boss might hurl a keyboard across the room in the same displaced anger.
The key to avoiding IT rage lies in not allowing the rumination. Dealing with the original source of anger generally removes the temptation to take that anger out on someone or something else.
This is sometimes easier said than done. However, creating a distraction from thinking about the original anger will allow it to dissipate. Rumination simply means dwelling on something. By letting go and refusing to dwell on anger, most people, most of the time, can stop themselves from putting their keyboard through their computer’s screen.
Sourceshttp://www.psfk.com/2008/08/it-rage-leads-to-violence-against-gadgets.html http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jul/24/internet-anonymity-trolling-tim-adams http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201105/its-all-the-rage/learning-not-lash-out