A few weeks ago a friend was buying bananas at the supermarket.
Stay with me, the story gets better.
With a trolley full of groceries for a family of four, she grabbed the last bunch of lovely yellow bananas on the stand.
Again, stay with me.
A woman she didn’t know snatched that same bunch of bananas out of her hands and said, “I was about to take those, they’re mine.”
This woman was angry and righteous about the scarce banana supplies. These were hers and she started to snap at my friend for ‘taking her bananas’ and pretending ‘you didn’t see me’ and ‘pushing her out the way’.
My friend didn’t know what to say. She ended up telling the very “aggressive” woman clutching stolen bananas that she ‘never even touched her’. That was the best she had. Then they exchanged a few choice words by the Pink Lady apples.
Just by the by, these weren’t two starving women at a border crossing in a war-torn country. These were two well-dressed women, one probably wearing a Breton striped shirt, standing in the aisles of a very well-stocked supermarket (that even sells sushi) having a fight over bananas.
And there were probably heaps more out the back.
This week I read the horrible story about a 31-year-old man allegedly throwing liquid chlorine over the fence at his 45-year-old neighbour. The report said the neighbours had been fighting over a noise issue when the alleged incident occurred on a Sunday afternoon. The 45-year-old has been left partially blind in one eye and the 31-year-old has been charged with grevious bodily harm.
Today I was beeped in stop-start peak-hour Sydney traffic. The beep enabled the woman behind me to move 30 cm before she had to stop behind me again.
“Victory!” she must have screamed into her air-conditioning.
As I sat motionless in my car I thought, “At least I eased her frustration for a second.”
NO I DIDN’T.
I thought, “Why the hell are you so angry that you have to beep me to move 30 cm in back- to -back traffic?”
And then I thought why am I so angry. Why is everyone so angry?
We asked the Mamamia team what they do to get some calm into their day, here’s what they said. Post continues after video…
In the space of a week I’ve seen people get twitchy at each other as they wait in the line for ice cream. I’ve seen scenes of obvious, quite nasty, frustration due to an elderly man exiting a bus. I’ve watched three grown men, not one but three, push past my 10-year-old daughter to be served before her at the counter. Brows furrowed, on a mission, about to snap. Her older sister had to stand with her so pushing past was thwarted. I’ve completely cracked it because the dishwasher wasn’t unpacked when I’ve come home from work. Cracked like an egg rolling off a benchtop.
This is not anger as an occasional end response. This is anger as the first response.
I can see it on people like heat coming off bitumen on a scorching hot day. It’s blurry and it radiates outward and it makes you question how the world works.
Well, this is how I think the world around me is working (maybe it’s different for you and congratulations for that) and why we are getting so angry.
- We are working hard and long hours in a time where there is no real wage growth yet plenty of job insecurity. Simply put, at the back of our minds we are always worrying about paying the bills.
- We’ve lost contact with community. We don’t know our neighbours like we used to (just look at the woman trapped in a lift for one month and then found dead – no-one missed her, they didn’t even check why the lift wasn’t working). When was the last time you had a proper conversation with your neighbours? When was the last time you did something for your neighbours? When was the last time you belonged somewhere other than work or inside you house?
- The internet has delivered a world of virtual abundance. We can shop, gamble, date, watch movies, abuse each other anonymously, play games, upload selfies, look at other people leading really glamorous, perfect lives – ALL BY OURSELVES. Added to that human connection time sucker is for those with children, we have to wander the halls at night and police screens like Secret Service Agents. This means arguments. We don’t want to do that. We just want to love them and maybe talk about what we did that day, even if they did algebra and you don’t understand what they are talking about.
- We are told we can do everything by ourselves and, in fact, that is the way we will shine in life and take the number one position. In her Salon essay We're not meant to do this alone: American individualism is destroying families, Tarja Parssinen talks about how she never felt alone until she had children and realised how much she missed her family. It took being alone and knowing she was missing something to finally understand why people become firemen, policemen and coast guards. "There are a lot of reasons, but the simple answer is that being together makes people happy," Parssinen says. "Combine that with sacrifice for the survival of the group and you get oxytocin. It’s a brain reward system uniquely connected to our evolution. For the rest of us schmucks following the Simon & Garfunkel “I Am an Island” philosophy, Junger says, “personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good.” From my little vantage spot bobbing up and down way over there, so many of us have become little solo rafts sailing frantically through life kicking that goal over there, and this one here. Paddling really hard, our fingertips too often just brushing the fingertips of the people we love, who are paddling really hard too. Lots of people paddling around the ocean by themselves.
- This one is solely my observation and I have no facts, figures, research, big data to back up that this is making people angry but my mother has always said I'm much more intuitive than I look. Or maybe it's just making me angry. Maybe I'm the only one in the world who does not get it. The Kardashians. Their way. Their influence. Enough said.
A lot of us are angry. We're a lot of things. But anger is often the easiest to see.
I need to dial down the anger because it's the kind of dumb emotion that makes people yell at each other in a supermarket for bananas. No-one wants to see that. Be that.
I need to re-connect with people I love, and my community. I need to make a GOD DAMN MOTHA of a community if I have to.
I need to remember that if you had really good vision and looked at the world from the Moon you would probably see a whole lot of good people trying hard at life and sometimes getting it wrong. I need to remember that.
Yes, there are a few out-and-out arseholes down there on planet Earth, but the world really is full of good people trying. Every day. So I'm going to not try harder at everything I do, I'm going to try to do things differently. Big things and small. Starting with people, understanding they are people too.
Because I never want to become banana woman.