The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why Do We Fall Silent in the Face of Angry Rhetoric?

I am going to be exploring this issue for a while. I was bothered yesterday while on Facebook. A friend posted a very angry message filled with rhetoric ... and on reflection, many false comparisons so far off base it wasn't even apples and oranges but apples and maybe potatoes. Instead of responding in some way, I quietly clicked on "I don't want to see this" and moved on, whistling past that particular graveyard.

My response bothered me. Why is it that angry rhetoric and name calling tends to drive many people of good will and good intentions into a defensive silence when a rational response would seem to be a healthier response for all involved?

I ran across an article that helped with the whole issue of what is anger. Anger is often a handy substitute for actual pain being felt. Rather than feeling hurt and vulnerable, a person can switch to anger and hide behind a self-righteous demand for justice against the one who caused the pain. From this, I gather many on social media are hurting ... badly. (Of course, others are just trolling anonymously for the cheap thrill of it, I get that.) One response could be to begin with, I'm sorry you are feeling so badly hurt. Would you like to talk about it? See the article at:

For an explanation of angry rhetoric, see this Psychology Today article: It begins to look like calming fears and seeking underlying hurts may be the positive response we can offer instead of shy silence. It's worth consideration.

A call against silence by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is motivational:

From Psychology Today, the other side of the story with 8 times when keeping silent is beneficial (and in some cases would eliminate the angry rhetoric):

For a little exploration of rhetoric itself and how non-angry rhetoric might be used, see:

Obviously, there is a lot more ground to cover. I'll return to this later.

Wishing you all peace. Hoping you are not hurting or fearful.


Mike Snyder said...

I've found the book Daring Greatly by Berné Brown to be very helpful for me. It discusses the concept of shame in our culture and the impact that it has in our lives. It's a very good read.

J.S. Brooks said...

Thanks, Mike. I'll look into that.