This columnist once wrote to a friend gently suggesting that he was not cut out to be an anger management therapist. He replied in capital letters: "SO. WHAT. ARE. YOU. SAYING?"
People love being angry these days, and the problem is getting worse. When I look at Facebook, I feel I need to stand well back.
"The aviation industry suffers the most," said a reader who works in that sector. She showed me a news report expressing outrage about an airline which threw a passenger off the flight "because she was breastfeeding". Another was about an airline which ejected a man "for having a tattoo". A third report was about a flight in which staff stopped the plane to escort a "feminist activist" off.
"But not one of them happened as reported," said the woman, who did not want her name printed. "In each case, the passenger was actually thrown off for breaching industry-wide safety rules. But journalists prefer to say it was because the person was breastfeeding or whatever because anger gets all the clicks."
A typical case was reported last December. Just as a Delta Airlines plane was about to take off from Atlanta, a man rose from his seat and went to the toilet. The crew scolded him and booted him off the flight -- so he called reporters and told them: "It's because I'm black."
The good news is that such cases are mostly limited to the Western media. "On the East side of the planet, there is no assumption that authority figures are automatically wrong," she said.
Interesting. I mean, there's a lot of bad things you can say about Asian journalists, such as the fact that we are often corrupt, lazy, bribe-taking, careless, woefully inaccurate, gullible, and seem incapable of critical thinking, let alone good writing, and I forgot where I was going with this sentence so I think I'll just end it here.
These days, the Asian media does the anger thing in some countries, while in others, news items are bland and emotionless. In some Indo-China nations, the first item on the TV news is always the same: "Premier cuts ribbon." Sometimes the entire news bulletin is the premier cutting various ribbons. Aliens intercepting those transmissions must think this is a planet in which fame and fortune go to men who can use scissors.
But elsewhere, the modern love of anger can have bad results. A few days ago, the New York Times told the shocking story of a bird scientist who did his job: He caught and dissected a bird as a specimen for his museum's million-piece research collection. An angry web-surfer published his name on the Internet as a "bird murderer". The scientist got so many angry death threats that he needed police protection.
The Internet, and particularly Facebook and Twitter, are magnets for the Super Angry. One of my social media friends thunders: "I don't need anger management. Everyone else needs stupidity management." To him, life seems horribly unfair. "When Thor throws his hammer he's a hero. When I throw a hammer I need therapy," he grumbles. Stand well back. Literally.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send comments and suggestions via his Facebook page)