Road Rage

Feasting on Outrage, Skimping on Sleep

driftwell® enhanced water by PepsiCo

driftwell® enhanced water by PepsiCo

Outrage is a hot commodity these days. Cable news networks are serving up all we can take. Social media amplifies it. Advertisers reward it. And all over the world, it seems that people can’t get enough. The old advertising maxim was that sex sells. But now, outrage is giving sex a run for its money. And marketers are cashing in. If all that outrage has you skimping on sleep, Pepsico stands ready to sell you a can of driftwell®. It’s enhanced water with L-theanine. We can pretend it helps us sleep better and release the stress from all the outrage we’re feeling.

Grinding Teeth and Sleepless Nights

The angst we’re feeling is everywhere we turn. The west coast of the U.S. is burning while presidential candidates trade insults. Outrage erupts in the U.K. as the divisive issue of Brexit comes to a boil once more. Even in Germany, far right activists and coronavirus skeptics are taking their outrage to the streets.

And thus, we see a rise of conronasomia alongside the pandemic. What’s more, dentists report that this tension is finding its way into our teeth. People are grinding and cracking their teeth. “I’ve seen more tooth fractures in the last six weeks than in the previous six years,” writes dentist Tammy Chen.

Sleepless nights will do nothing good for our metabolic health. A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine tells us once again that with less sleep and disrupted sleep patterns people also have a higher BMI.

A Diet of Less Outrage

For the sake of our tenuous mental health, Margaret Renkl suggests we all go on a diet. We should cut back on outrage and turn to constructive action:

A diet doesn’t require a person to stop eating; it just requires a person to start eating better. Just as a dieter substitutes salads for burgers, my new plan is to substitute resolve for outrage. I resolve to give more money to nonprofits fighting for fairness and reason. To look for more hands-on ways to make a difference, no matter how small. I resolve to remember that while outrage is the currency of our era, it doesn’t actually buy anything. Action is what buys change.

Action is good. Connections make it better. Action that serves only our own agenda is not nearly so satisfying as action that serves many people. Not only that, but part of what feeds our rage is disconnection from other people. The rage builds faster when we’re disconnected. This pandemic has done great harm to our social connections.

Perhaps we would do well to build back those connections as a tool for moderating the rage we feel. In this way, we can take action to serve more than just ourselves.

Click here for more on dialing back our rage and here for more on nurturing our social connections.

Road Rage, photograph © Mark Zilberman / flickr

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September 15, 2020

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