On Angry Anger


An opinion and a story

I was chatting to someone at a recent writing workshop who mentioned someone who would be coming along to the next workshop I would also be facilitating.

“Oh, by the way, he’s a very angry guy” she said as a kind of friendly warning.

I later discovered he isn’t angry at all. But he had challenged this person on her behaviour on a number of occasions. I personally found evidence to support his challenges. Of course the person challenged didn’t like being challenged and so needed to paint a picture of the challenger as “angry”. “Angry” here becomes a label for “challenging” or “creating discomfort” or “hitting a raw but truthful nerve.”

She genuinely had no idea she was doing it – calling someone angry because he’d awoken an uncomfortable and fairly angry response in her. So I challenged her on it. She frowned at me, went silent, ground her teeth and said: “Are you a friend of his?”

She knew I had never met him before!

It’s an interesting behaviour. Perhaps a bit shocking was also the fact that this person also uttered a lot of generalisations about humanity – how people ought to be more positive in life, how a lot of people are too focused on anger etc. Although she smiled a lot, spoke positive things, as her life story unfolded in further conversations, I realised she actually courted negativity, was often a source of it, was a source of mistrust and a lot of her “generalisations” actually applied to her. Whenever anyone got close to challenging her on this, she’d attempt to label the person as “disturbed” or “flawed”, gathering all kinds of bogus evidence along the way.

I only wish she’d stick to writing tragi-comedy.


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