Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t. —Friedrich Nietzsche
Annoyed may be too mild a word for what many people are feeling today. Pissed off is more appropriate. We are angry, some to the point of full-on rage. Yet, annoyed is more encompassing, I think, so that’s the term I’ll use. I’m annoyed with life, with humanity, with governments, with systems that don’t work, and with people who don’t seem capable of an ounce of compassion.
This morning, everywhere I look I’m seeing news of the botched coup attempt in Turkey. The day before that was the tragedy in Nice. I’m almost afraid to look at my newsfeed or Twitter because I’m fairly certain that there will be another act of senseless stupidity coming today, or at the very least, by Monday. The world seems incapable of going more than three days without making an ass of itself. I’m annoyed with the whole mess.
Given that level of annoyance, I was intrigued when I found an article by CNN’s David G. Allen on “How To Stop Being Annoyed By Life.” Mr. Allen apparently has, or had, a tendency to be a bit of a hot head. I relate to that far too well. In the article, he offers ten tips for dealing with everyday annoyances. What he offers are good, sound, researched solutions. However, they’re directed toward personal matters. He doesn’t touch global events.
So, I want to play off that same research and consider how one might better deal with the major issues confronting us now.
Is It Really Important?
Some matters that leave me annoyed are those manufactured for political purposes. Hillary’s email. The President’s birth certificate. The tweets of a Supreme Court justice. There are far too many times when stories that deserve nothing more than to be page six filler end up becoming front page headlines. I get annoyed when someone, usually a Congressperson, keeps harping on an issue over and over and over when there’s no real substance to the very thing they’re debating.
But if an issue isn’t really important, then why do I bother getting all worked up and annoyed over it? Chill. We don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. We have better things to do both with our time and our thoughts. Wasting energy on matters of insignificance is futile. There is no resolution to the alleged problem. The people talking about it will never be satisfied. Focus on what is important and try to not be distracted by all the noise.
Should It Be Ignored?
I use this anytime someone is behaving like a child on a national or global stage. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un falls into this category. Every once in a while, he feels like the world isn’t paying any attention to him. So, he fires a missile into the South China Sea. It sounds threatening on the surface, but after a while, we realize there’s no real substance to the threats. Kim Jong Un is annoyed, so he wants to annoy everyone else.
Ignore him, with caution. We do the same with our six-year-old when she pitches a fit over bedtime. We put her in her room and she yells and screams and calls us names until she wears herself out. We don’t respond. We listen, just in case she were to do anything dangerous, but unless she’s dismantling furniture we let it go. The same applies to the actions of many world leaders. In fact, had the media taken this approach at the beginning of the presidential race, we wouldn’t be looking at the ridiculous Republican ticket we now face. Some people just insist on being loud and noisy. As long as there’s no immediate danger, we do well when we just ignore the rants and walk away.
Can You Change The Situation?
This comes back to focusing on what is really important. Can I do something about racial disparity? Yes. So that topic is worth my time and dealing with the frustration. Can I do anything about the current situation in Turkey? Nope, not a damn thing. There’s no reason for me to be annoyed by that which I cannot change. Those matters are out of my hands.
One of the challenges that come with the world so connected by information is that we mistakenly think we have a stake in matters that really don’t involve us. We might show concern for innocent people trapped in an airport or aid workers pinned down in a firefight, but we have to accept the fact that we cannot solve all the world’s problems by ourselves. Sometimes we have to let people deal with their own problems and their own tragedies for themselves. If you cannot change the situation, it is not your burden to carry.
Do You Have All The Information?
Earlier this week, a number of people shared this article because of its enticing headline about Marijuana and alien DNA. The link came through my newsfeed at least a dozen times, usually with a comment such as, “This is really exciting,” or “Now we know why marijuana cures so many things.” If anyone bothered to actually click the link and read the article, however, they discovered that it had nothing to do with weed, or DNA, or NASA, or aliens. Instead, it was a study on just how often we share things without bothering to read the article.
We, as a generalized group of Internet users, get annoyed often by issues we simply did not bother to understand. We look at an over-sensationalized headline and form an opinion without bothering to get the facts. Then, as Nietzsche says in the quote above, we get annoyed when we later discover that our opinion was not only wrong but totally baseless. I find myself far less troubled by things when I bother to read the full story before opening my big mouth.
Be Part Of The Solution
We have little right to be annoyed at a situation we can change ourselves. We might not see that change overnight, but when we see a situation such as racial disparity or income inequality or gender discrimination, we do well to fight rather than just sit on our ass being annoyed. Don’t like the looks of the presidential election? Get the fuck out there and vote, encourage others to vote, take a neighbor to vote. If 30% more people voted this November than did in 2012, we would see overwhelming change.
Annoyed by discrimination? Be part of that solution. No, it’s not going to be easy. No one likes being called out on their shit and when you do they’re going to resists. But if you’re really annoyed, then you have to act and hold whomever’s feet to the fire until a solution is reached. Don’t back down, don’t give up.
I’m at an age where I have to watch what I let get to me. Being annoyed gets my blood pressure up. If I get all worked up over some piece of nonsense, I could have a heart attack and die. Is there anything worth that risk? Not much. We do better to control those emotions and keep ourselves in check. Address what’s important and leave the rest.
You’ll have a better weekend if you do.