Question: Are We Getting More Aggressive?

On a train, back in February, the fellow sitting next to me complained that the train had slowed down when it entered Toronto. “All the other trains should just get out of our way,” he said. When I replied that there are other people on those trains too, he said, “Yeah, but do you know any of them? Fuck them.”

A few weeks before that, a friend of mine was nearly run off the road, twice, by a sixteen-wheeler truck, as the truck tried to merge into the lane on the highway 401, in which my friend was driving. When the police questioned him about this, the truck driver said, “He should have known to get out of my way.”

These are unrelated incidents, of course – but are they? Have you a story about someone who was not just indifferent, but actively hostile to the idea that other people have needs and rights? Do you think our society is getting a little colder, a little more aggressive, a little less compassionate, a little less empathetic?

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3 Responses to Question: Are We Getting More Aggressive?

  1. Hobbes says:

    I’m not sure that we are really that much more aggressive, but thanks to the Internet and social media, douchebags are getting more and more attention.

    Good, caring people are out there too in droves, but their values are often expressed in quiet, subtle ways. You can see many examples of good people doing the right thing if you CHOOSE to look for them. When you do that, you’ll notice that there are many more positive, helpful people than negative, self-absorbed people.

    You want proof? I can prove it right now. Lets say you are driving for an hour on the highway and 100 cars respect your space on the highway, signalling correctly and yielding when needed, but then 1 guy cuts you off, almost causing an accident. Will you remember the 100 other drivers who were responsible, or will you only remember the 1 guy who was a jerk?

    The 99% of people on the road establishes the norm, and the 1% is the exception, which is why we notice it. However, we can choose how to relate to that experience by either focusing on the positive or focusing on the negative.

    I choose positive and, quite frankly, my life is better for it. That doesn’t mean I’m not prepared for the unpredictability of the 1%, but it doesn’t dominate my memories.

  2. Mana says:

    I agree with Hobbes. I don’t think we are really much more aggressive, but what I do believe, it’s that younger people are getting used to it as they see it a lot on TV, movies, video games… It doesn’t bother them as much anymore. What they see everywhere has become normal. I’ve seen little boys tell other kids that they were going to kill their whole family, that they were going to set them on fire and cook them on the BBQ. Kids play less and less with other kids, and more with video games where violence is predominant. There is also a new generation of little kings and queens, children spoiled to the point that they take everything for granted. They are the center of their world and don’t care beyond that, they don’t see other people needs and rights. Those kids are growing up to be young adults with the same mentality. What will society become? Are we losing touch with our humanity?

  3. Heidi says:

    I think we are more reactive. The anonymity and speed of the internet makes it easy to shoot oneĀ“s mouth off about a load of things daily and be rewarded with instant reactions to that reaction, then react back, etc etc. One gets desensitized to a degree, to a harsh tone, starts taking it into real life.
    Another thing is that journalism and politics are IMO also increasingly focused on generating emotional reactions from the audience/voters – suspicion, horror, outrage, etc. – and not so much on generating reflection or real debate.
    An example is the unemployed – you rarely hear the word unemployed used anymore, or anything about how best to handle the current situation – it is all about the non-contributing moochers and sluts and what should be done to stop them from multiplying, etc. This aggressive tone is all over the place.

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