Why are we all so close to snapping?

It’s a rainy Monday morning here, which means someone might get punched in the face.

Not by me. After 3 weeks spent spiraling post race, I’ve decided to straighten out my attitude (and maybe ease off the booze…..they could be related). But some other mother or father of two / office worker with a long commute / pending divorcee’ / pending bankruptcy /  pending cancer diagnosis is going to f*cking snap.

It’s going to start with the drop-off line at the local middle school. The majority of the school kids ride their bikes in, but when it’s pouring rain loving mothers and fathers drive them in. And then all hell breaks loose.

The drop-off is a big loop, and technically you’re not supposed to make a left turn out of that loop (red arrow). Reason being it creates grid-lock. The people turning left out of the loop (red arrow) can’t go because there is no room on that main street, and the people turning into the loop (green arrow) can’t make room because there is no room in the loop because…..red arrow…you get it.

Jordan Turn.png

Generally there are few enough drivers that this a minor inconvenience. It gets sorted out. But on exceptionally rainy mornings the worst of humanity emerges. I watched as mid-50s driver A, comfortable in her expensive Lexus SUV, rolled down her window and started screaming at mid-40s driver B. This wasn’t the rage and fury you see in written form on Nextdoor, where normally friendly neighbors will insult each other’s mothers if the Christmas lights aren’t down by January 10th. That’s classic paper tiger stuff. No. From the look on this woman’s face she was perfectly willing to step out of the car and curb-stomp the other mother in front of her children.

Why does it take so little to set us all off? Is it:

  • Every god damn thing about modern society – achievement stress, lack of sleep, over-scheduling, crappy food, no exercise, sitting on our asses in cars and at desks, struggling to make the next payment on whatever – lends itself to a tidal wave sense that we’re all somehow missing the bigger picture and yet we have no way out.
  • We’ve been conditioned for our lifetimes to be terrified of financial ruin, which is the modern day equivalent of having your nomadic tribe’s camp sacked by marauders. So the impact of a decade plus of growth is terror that it is going to end and that you will get raped in a shitty public home as a senior citizen because your retirement savings are all lost.
  • Republican or Democrat, we’re all steeped in a non-stop stream of insults, ridicule, exasperation and disbelief that we have so many idiots making up our friends/family/country. All aggravated by 24×7 news media amplified by 24×7 social echo chambers.
  • Goals and milestones disappear as you age. The things that were dramatically meaningful in life, like graduation, getting a job, getting married, having a baby, and buying a house are traded for increasingly hollow goals and milestones. And perhaps those goals and milestones are increasingly hollowed by the perspective of age. So what’s the point anyway?

I’m not sure. But if there is one thing I want to figure out in my second half of life is how to take it all a little less seriously. I am happy to say I didn’t scream at anyone in the car line this morning. But 24 hours earlier I may have told a cashier at Safeway to ‘f*ck it, just forget it’ when my discount number wouldn’t work. In front of my kids. So we have some work to do.

6 thoughts on “Why are we all so close to snapping?

  1. Hello Andrew,

    I am not sure who said this but I like it “Only war is serious in life, everything else is a joke”. And it is.We are so serious about our life, about our small things, about our small problems, that we are ready to kill somebody because of our little miserable problems.

    Great post with great question

  2. “But if there is one thing I want to figure out in my second half of life is how to take it all a little less seriously.”

    I call this channeling my inner-Matthew McConaughey. “Just roll with it………..man.” Maybe I don’t smoke enough weed. Whatever it is, I am not yet good at it.

    I’ll plug Sam Harris (again) and say that he illustrates the power of medication very succinctly. Paraphrasing heavily:

    “What medication can bring to you isn’t the elimination of negative emotions like fear and anger, but rather to loosen their control over us. That driver that cut you off on the morning commute? A successful meditative practice can allow you to acknowledge the anger and almost instantly let go of it. Our emotions don’t need to have lasting impact on us.”

    You can also search for Diffusing Negative Emotions (anxiety, fear, anger, hate, depression etc) with Mindfulness Meditation for more.


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