Anger is everywhere. People are angry about everything, and everyone.
Anger is normal. Sometimes even productive, as we’ve seen with the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the attention is has brought to the subject, along with actual changes being made like corrupt officers finally being arrested and police reform on the horizon.
But there is another side of anger, the one with all talk and very little action.
This other side, usually also on the other ‘side’ of politics, is that of misdirected anger. Anger that could be put to good use but is instead wasted on asking for the manager. Wasted on issues that, with further inspection, aren’t the issues we should really be mad about.
The news that served as a catalyst for this epiphany was on immigration. Recently this topic has bounced back into mainstream media, as it does every few months to spread fear and hatred, and has yet again succeeded in doing so. This particular article discussed how the far-right group ‘Britain First’ had marched themselves into a hotel housing migrants and went door to door harassing the residents.
What were they angry about?
Well, the leader of Britain First, Ashlea Simon, was interviewed on the scene and revealed the group’s main concern. Unsurprisingly, it was British people’s tax money being spent on supporting the migrants in the hotel. Which is true, asylum seekers cost us £155 million, which definitely sounds like an anger inducing number until you realise it amounts to around £5 a year per taxpayer.
The clear case of misdirected anger here is that, as put by @theblack.project in a recent Instagram post, “if the suggestion of support for asylum seekers upsets you because of concerns about the economy, do not forget – the wealthiest in this country cost the economy £90 billion a year in tax dodging. That’s around £2900 a year per taxpayer”. I know which figures I would rather direct my anger at.
We see this equally multiple times within the BLM Movement. First it was anger over the peaceful protests, the kneeling and the ‘making everything about race’. Then it was directed towards the George Floyd protests and riots, towards the Defund the Police movement and the tearing down of racist statues. So much aggravation with no thought to what caused all of it in the first place.
We should be angrier that peaceful protests were ignored and labelled unpatriotic. Angrier that once protesters took to the streets, they were told they would have been listened to if only they had been peaceful.
We should be angrier that our 14 years of education was whitewashed so that we never knew of the real history of the men we were told to look up to, and the racist, slave-owning pasts of those we built monuments of.
And to those that still condemn protestors putting their life on the line to stand up for human rights, why are you not more outraged that people are having to fight for rights still, in 2020? Why direct your anger towards the riots or looting and not the police killing unarmed black people for the crime of simply existing?
The treatment of Meghan Markle is yet another saddening example of misdirected anger that springs to mind.
The Duchess of Sussex was brought to tears from the constant media onslaught, harassment and racial abuse she faced – and still faces today. Whilst some were angry at her treatment and the genuine problems within the royal family she brought to light, others were preoccupied being furious at her nail polish. Article after article attacked her style, outspoken personality, the way she held her child (in and out of the womb), and even her want for just some privacy. This fuelled the public’s unnecessary hatred of Meghan, and expertly covered up the real issues.
Though I’m not sure of a direct cure you can take for misdirected anger, there is a simple short-term solution for when you feel that anger bubbling up inside you. It’s about getting to the root of the problem and being angry at that, not what it causes. Training yourself to direct the inevitable towards the eye of the storm – don’t shoot the messenger, right?
Are you annoyed at the homeless man in the park for asking for spare change? Turn that annoyance instead at the systems and government that offer him no help, that ignore the 320,000 homeless people across the UK. Help lower that number.
Do you feel the need rising to yell at your waiter when your food takes too long? Focus on the why instead of what – are they understaffed because of forced job cuts? are they unable to work well because they’re depressed, but mental health isn’t recognised as a legit reason for a day off in the industry? are they working for less than minimum wage and struggling to cope?
People are living lives we know nothing about. Misdirected anger towards them, towards protests and towards the nail colour of a royal will make no change, and it certainly does not do any good.
But it can when pointed in the right direction.