I’m not the only person to notice and comment on this by a long shot, and I’m sure I won’t be the last (in fact, I think there’s a report on the topic on this afternoon’s All Things Considered on NPR), but wow, we’re all a little touchy lately, aren’t we? The number of incidents involving celebrities, athletes, and politicians popping off at little or no provocation is legion (and I won’t reiterate them here on the grounds that they don’t need anymore publicity for bad behavior than they’ve already gotten). And then there’s the general undertone of…sorry, I can’t think of any word other than “bitchiness”, despite the sexist connotations…that constantly seems to be flaring up in Romancelandia. Again, I don’t think I need to cite specific incidents for folks to know what I’m referring to.
The thing is, I’m not here to castigate anyone for this or decry the lack of civility in the modern world. Because, darn it, I have to count myself among the cranky pop-off’ers. Honesty forces me to admit that the tone of this blog has not been exactly upbeat and lovey-dovey of late. Now, I’m not attempting to excuse bad behavior, either, and I would like to think I haven’t engaged in any actual bad behavior remotely like some of what I’ve seen/heard about in the news lately, but I am wondering if this malady is deeper than individual circumstances.
See, I’m grumpy about a lot of things publishing and writing related–some of them things I can control (like whether I’m actually writing anything) and others I can’t (whether there’s anyone willing to buy the anything I write)–but I’m starting to suspect that my grumpiness is magnified by everything that’s going on around me. The whole world seems to be in a state of perpetual pugnacity. Everyone is just itching for a fight (to quote Michael Feldman), whether it’s over “death panels” or the president’s citizenship status or a certain Twitter hashtag that shall remain nameless.
It’s pretty easy to suspect that a big part of the reason for this constant underlying irritation is anxiety. With the economy still in such a state of upheaval, people are just plain worried. Those who’ve lost their jobs are worried about finding new ones. Those who haven’t lost them are afraid they might. And then there’s the overall pace of technological and social change, everything from the rise of digital media to same-sex marriage. Even those of us who are all in favor of progress are a little knocked on our ears by the sheer instability of things.
So, now that I’ve realized I’m more than a little touchy (and guilty of expressing it), I’ve decided I have to take some steps toward positive thinking. Not because it will make better things happen, mind you (I don’t believe in the power of positive thinking in quite that way), but because it will make me feel better. Because being cranky really sucks.
What about you? Feeling touchy lately? Any advice for handling one’s irritation in a positive way?
P.S. I don’t believe the president calling a certain celebrity a “jackass” helps to improve the tenor of the discussion.