|In the book Lonely Century – one of the scariest books on societal issues, and that is saying something, considering the last few years – Noreena Hertz refers to an article ‘Is Alexa Making My Son An Asshole? The author describes tantrums and insults that his son throws at Alexa, but the assistant, being a robot, never adequately responds. No matter how inadequate or even inappropriate some of those emotional expressions are, Alexa is controlled and polite – a dream for most of us! As a result, when talking to the parents, the kid demands the same non-response, no matter how bad is his behaviour. It is only a matter of time when he goes to the outside world and does the same to other kids or teachers.|
Future concerns aside, it is a neat example of a perfect control over our emotions even if human, being not robots, can’t push emotions away forever without paying a price. But even if we could, should we?
Ignoring emotions rarely makes things better. People can spend years and decades in toxic relationships because they were trying to ‘work it out’ and ‘be patient’ at any cost. And it’s truly ‘any cost’, including their own physical and emotional needs. Or the future of kids who need to learn to control themselves to be successful humans.
Because we hide our anger so deep, sometimes we lose our ability to reach it. I’ve seen bullies get away with atrocious behaviour and walk away without anyone standing up to them. I’ve seen women stay in marriages or relationships during which they withstand all sorts of abuse. I’ve seen bosses bullying their employees and employees bullying their bosses (yes, that happens too). In fact, I’ve even seen parents bullied by their child. He was a scary 2-year-old. At 7, unopposed and unchallenged, is a nightmare for everyone around him.
At this point, most people point out that responding with anger fuels the arguments and escalates the situation.
It can. But it doesn’t have to. Anger can be used either to attack or defend yourself. The defense comes first and quite often, is enough to satisfy your needs or feel safe again. When you stand up to bullies, they are often shocked – they are so used to getting away with being horrible to others, they struggle with smallest push-back. You don’t even need to lower yourself to their standards – you just need to be brave. And then let your anger bring you energy you need to stand up to yourself, give you strength and endurance until difficult situation ends.
Anger can help you be brave.
This is what Alexa can never be.