From Internet flame wars to reality TV, from road rage to the tabloids, anger is playing an ever increasing role in our society. Whether this is because communication is breaking down, social etiquette is being phased out or assholes are just breeding more often, anger seems to be on the upswing, and scientists are furiously scrambling to find out why. Here's a little of what they've got so far:
Bangor University's School of Psychology has spent a good deal of time researching the reason why so much more energy seems channeled into anger instead of happiness, and why angry people get more attention than the positive ones. For an example, just look to the comments section of most websites: You'll generally see a lot of positivity there at first, but little by little, it will all start to go wrong. Insulting comments start to crop up, and they are responded to--again insultingly--until the whole thing devolves into a giant pantie-fight over minor technicalities and personal opinions.
"It's 'there,' not "their,' and there's no "the" in front of "Watchmen" and RRRAARGHAAAAAAHHHH!!! I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!!!"
But it's not entirely the Internet's fault. When the Bangor scientists studied the section of the brain that responds to angry, happy or neutral faces, they found something interesting: This area is also tied closely to areas of the brain associated with survival instincts--like your fight or flight reflexes. When you detect anger in your vicinity, your facial recognition center suddenly lights, allowing you to better detect possible threats. Or, as one researcher puts it, "The ability to remember who is angry may have been of evolutionary importance in enabling us to respond to a threat situation. Remembering who's happy is less important as it bears no relation to our own immediate safety."
As a side effect of this--our brains being wired to pay more attention to anger--any pissed off dickhead who is otherwise irrelevant, will still seem much more important to you than a reasonable person who should otherwise take priority. It's not necessarily the case that there is more negativity, it's just that you pay more attention to it. So basically, the concept that "all you need is love" has officially been disproven by our very genetics. Sorry, hippies, but the brain has spoken: Impending punches are just flat out more important than Eskimo kisses.
Researchers have recently identified something in the human brain that they are calling the 'Hate Circuit.' Presumably located right next to the 'Awesome Processor' and just behind the 'Titties Motherboard,' the hate circuit consists of two subcortical areas of the brain that work in concert to create the emotional response of hatred in human beings. The Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL discovered this circuit in a study they conducted, wherein the brains of participants were scanned as they were shown pictures of people they personally hated, interspersed with other familiar, but otherwise neutral acquaintances.
When the subjects were shown pictures of the hated subject, heretofore known as the Motherfucker Control, two areas called the putamen and the insular cortex kicked into high gear. These areas are also associated with motor planning--so when the participants saw the Motherfucker Control, their brains immediately began preparing to act.
Pictured: Motherfucker Control
Now, that's not to say they were revving up to fight or to flee--just gearing up for some sort of physical reaction. But if you're not fighting or running, and your brain is still signaling some kind of action, what do you think that action's going to be?
That's right, science has officially found the 'fuck you' center of the brain.
You may want to sit down for this one: Scientists believe they may have found a link between alcohol and aggressive behavior. I know, right? Next thing you know you'll tell me there's some sort of mysterious link between Cracked writers and registered sex offenders. You so crazy, science!
But amazingly, it's true! There's a gene called MAOA that produces an enzyme which breaks down chemicals in the brain associated with mood. 174 prisoners--all with both a history of alcoholism and records of violent tendencies--were the subjects of a recent study conducted by Finnish scientists. The scientists, now in possession of about 200 violent criminals with poor impulse control, decided that the most logical thing to do was to get them all fucking hammered and then poke at them with needles because, as we all know, Finnish scientists have infamously giantic science-balls. They found that not only did all of the criminals show a drastically increased risk of impulsive violence, but all were registering highly active versions of MAOA in their brains as well.
Pictured: Scientific Progress
The researchers, all graduates from the Clint Eastwood University Of Just Not Giving A Shit, hope that one day their results could eventually lead to a pharmacological solution for this condition: In other words, someday there may well be a "don't be such a fucking prick when you're drunk," pill.
Soccer hooligans, hillbillies and Bostonians (or at least their neighbors): Rejoice!
New studies are being conducted in Japan, focusing on the areas of the brain responsible for both envy and schadenfreude. Japanese scientists are scanning groups of students with an MRI machine while they're forced to read stories about rich, lucky and successful people, followed by tales where life just shits all over the protagonist. Unsurprisingly, they found that subjects reading the "lucky" stories basically felt like life had lightly grazed their souls in the junk, invoking that slow, ebbing pain that crawls up your gut and is somehow worse than a direct hit--while the "hard luck" stories inspired a particularly spiteful kind of well-being, like sunning yourself on a clear spring day... on top of an orphan.
"Where your parents, kid?! Huh? Where your family!? Haha! You so gettin' sat!"
But unexpectedly, they also found that these feelings were less like emotional responses, and more similar to actual, physical sensations. Envy is registered in the mind like a real feeling of bodily pain, while schadenfreude induces a pleasant euphoric state akin to a low grade orgasm. Well, mostly it's just a low grade orgasm, but I suppose that if you're truly evil enough, you could get a more literal orgasm from watching the suffering of others. And this would certainly explain Skeletor's constant O-Face.
Happy Nightmares! Love, Robert.
Behavioral scientists have a keen interest in the increasing trend of so-called "webrage": the tendency for Internet commenters to spew naught but filth and bile with little to no provocation (for some handy examples, just scroll all the way down to the comments section!) But aside from vitriol-laden feedback sections wrought with verbal filth and textual disease, the scientists are also pointing to the rise of new websites, like mybiggestcomplaint.com and justrage.com, which are dedicated exclusively to the world's saddest expression of rage: Angry typing. These sites don't even pretend to have content, they're exclusively devoted to venting nerd fury for no valid reason. Although that does finally answer the age old Zen Riddle: If there were no Internet to flame on, would flamers still flame?
"Nice qeustion r-tard. lol wut fuck u newfag" - Behavioral Scientists
These researchers all differ on what, exactly, is causing this outpouring of impotent rage--some point to the anonymity of the Internet providing a consequence-free environment for dickotry, while others blame the anger on a lack of emotional cues like voice fluctuation and body language--but all can agree on one thing: The newfound ability to distance ourselves emotionally, while simultaneously remaining connected on a global level is leading to an overall increase in both anger and stress levels across the board. So, while the Internet may have linked humanity via information, and possibly ushered in a new era of human intelligence, it's also allowed us just enough distance to constantly tell each other to go fuck ourselves unconscious for no apparent reason with a previously unheard of lack of empathy and remorse.
And on a completely unrelated note: Go fuck yourselves unconscious, dicktards.
Find Robert on Twitter, Facebook or his own site, I Fight Robots, where he will fucking kill you in the face if you say literally anything! ANYTHING AT ALL.