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With unprovoked violence and angry outbursts on our roadways, airways, sports fields, stores, and other venues, we're witnessing the rise of contentiousness in our culture. Despite the booming economy, crankiness has infiltrated our homes, ...
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With unprovoked violence and angry outbursts on our roadways, airways, sports fields, stores, and other venues, we're witnessing the rise of contentiousness in our culture. Despite the booming economy, crankiness has infiltrated our homes, workplaces, and society. From USA Today to the Washington Post, Newark Star-Ledger, LA Times, and more, Leslie Charles has received critical acclaim for her intriguing explanation of why rage has become all the rage in our culture. You've noticed the symptoms of the Anger Epidemic: have you been infected by it? This book outlines the 10 social trends complicating our lives, corrupting our relationships and workplaces, and how to constructively address these issues.
As a society, we are in the grasp of an alarming series of trends that have systematically infiltrated our existence; and whether we know it or not, we've been influenced, individually and collectively. As a result, we've been thrust into an emotional tailspin that promises to change the quality of your life and mine permanently unless we take immediate action. It's America's "anger epidemic."
We're a nation whose collective mood has gone sour. On our streets and highways, in our workplaces, and even in our homes, we've abandoned common courtesy. Maybe at first your experience was like mine. You couldn't quite put your finger on it, but eventually you got it: People aren't as nice as they used to be. They're impatient, rude, and demanding. They're in a huff and in a hurry. They don't want to wait in line, they don't want to cooperate, and they don't want to be inconvenienced by anyone or anything. They want their way and they want it now, like a bunch of spoiled kids, demanding the lion's share of whatever there is to be had.
It's not simply a lack of manners, it's an open hostility. You've noticed the symptoms, just as I have. That's why you opened this book. People are cranky! Maybe you are, too. It seems our self-control has been replaced with scorn and none of us are immune. Kids, adults, politicians, businesspeople, and even some community and religious leaders are lashing out. Never have so many, with so much, been so unhappy.
There's a reason we're cranky. Actually, there are ten, and when you see the list in chapter 1, I guarantee you'll relate. Some of what you read will confirm your suspicions about what's going on. But it will also explain how you, too, have been unwittingly infected by the anger epidemic.
This book describes the serious nature of our cultural crisis but does so at a personal level. If you're reeling under the pressure of today's hurry-worry lifestyle you'll appreciate knowing that better choices exist, and they are accessible. We don't need to be so at odds with ourselves; we don't need to hurt so much. By taking steps to heal ourselves we help heal our society. These ideas will help you reflect, rebalance, and rebound; you can liberate yourself from unnecessary pressure and stress and carve out a more satisfying life.
Maybe you've wondered when our mood began to decline. The first incident that got my attention involved, of all things, Cabbage Patch Kids. It was Christmas season, 1983. I remember the flurry of panic shopping once word got out that supplies would be limited for the season. Shoppers held all-night vigils and stormed department stores as they opened. Clerks were stampeded and injured. High stakes negotiations and even fights ensued as shoppers desperately clamored to get their share of a limited commodity. The once simple act of acquiring a child's toy had become an obsession.
We turned a corner that holiday season: all of a sudden, giving became secondary to getting. Like the canary in a mine shaft, this display of bizarre buyer behavior warned of an insidious shift in our society--a slip in our cultural character. It wasn't the first social canary, nor was it the last.
Since then, the commercial aspect of holiday shopping has become more predatory. Harried parents stretch their time, patience, and budgets to afford the latest trendy gift their kids can't live without. Toys and games are becoming increasingly more high tech, more expensive, and even more imperative: just watch the backlash if parents can't locate the latest "must-have" holiday gift and the at-all-cost lengths to which they will go to get their hands on the prize. It's dj vu all over again!
Of course, the problem isn't in the specific item we might purchase. It's the desperate, compulsive Big Game Hunt mentality we need to examine; the feeling that everyone's holiday will be ruined and worthless unless this year's trophy gift can be bagged so we can outdo whatever we did last year. The 1998 holiday season featured more gifts over one hundred dollars than any previous one: some psychologists suggest that parents are spending more to compensate for a lack of quality time. Intellectually, most of us know we can't replace real presence with a stack of presents, but at a gut level, we might make an effort to fill the void.
Let's briefly track another trend we're all familiar with: "road rage." It took some years for it to migrate from L.A. to the rest of the country, but I'm convinced there were small, scattered forces at work that helped propel this peril across our continent. In the late eighties one of my friends attached a tiny toy phaser gun to her car keys. It made cute little outer space noises as she pretended to "disappear" irritating drivers. This seemed harmless at the time but it was a hostile act. Did seemingly innocent individual expressions of hostility such as this eventually give way to open aggression? Do we think we actually own that piece of road our car occupies when we're in it?
You and I have witnessed increasingly sensational news reports and talk shows; graphic violence as entertainment. We're bombarded with noise from our television, computer games, power tools, convenience items, and even other people's booming car radios. Small wonder our levels of personal aggression have intensified. Stress has swept its way across the continent as if it were the common cold. We're all tense and irritable, but our dour disposition is not the cause; it's merely symptomatic of a larger problem.
In 1994 while I was consulting with a local insurance company, an employee said she had just received a death threat from one of her insureds. This was a first for me. A death threat in one of my client offices. In my hometown, yet. Even though the policy holder obviously didn't mean it (after all, his name, address, and phone number were on file) this kind of behavior was once unheard of. Somewhere, somehow, someone had upped the ante of what an angry customer could get away with.
So far we've discussed other people. Let's get personal for a moment. Dare I ask how you're faring under the pressures of your daily demands? Are you, like many others, living with chronic frustration or disillusionment over your job? We're all aware of the high divorce rate in the United States, and I'm alarmed at the number of people I meet who suffer unhappy, fragmented family relationships. Call it overworked and undernurtured: Our money concerns and job uncertainty cause many of us to work extended hours for no extra pay because we know if we don't, someone else will. Most of us compulsively overschedule the few free hours we have, so we end up feeling busy, burdened, or burned out. Despite the continual promise of more leisure time, we're mired in daily demands that hold little significance to the whole of our lives. And there's more.
Nonstop change, spiraling costs, market competition, elevated customer expectations, and workforce cutbacks influence how we treat one another. Technological acceleration, media domination, the pressure to keep up, the expanding gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the specialized needs of an aging society add to this challenging and complicated climate.
This is our culture today; we are describing your life and mine. We've been promised a lot but there's a serious shortfall. In our attempts to have it all, many of us are losing out and we're mad as hell about it. We know something is wrong but what exactly is it? Who has time to stop and figure it out, and what can we do about the problem? This book answers these questions and more, including the one nagging most people today, and maybe you, as well: Why is everyone so cranky?
In this book you'll find numerous depictions of the disagreeableness so common in our culture today and descriptions of the many conflicts we're experiencing. Be advised: you might discover yourself in some of the cranky examples! But that's the point. Not only will you isolate some of the spots in your existence that are sore or tender, you'll also find a wealth of practical options and anti-cranky solutions to complement the lifestyle you're trying to create.
Please keep a pen and notepad handy so you can write down insights or good ideas as they come to you. In fact, I recommend you buy a special notepad and keep a written record of page numbers where an idea "speaks to you" or any phrase resonates. What you read here is going to trigger a series of insights and for a while, you'll look at our society and your own behavior differently. I'd like to help make that a lasting, rather than temporary process, and your active participation will make it happen.
Because we're discussing a social epidemic, I thought it would be a good idea if we begin with a brief Self-Exam so you can establish a baseline. Just as your doctor conducts an annual screening to determine your state of health, you want to conduct occasional interpersonal screenings to check your state of mind and spirit. You have some knowledge of your personal patterns and the areas in your life that are the most compromised. The question is, Are you willing to: (1) admit to it, and (2) do something about it?
If so, with the help of this book, you can diagnose your current state of being and decide how to improve upon it.
|1||The Whining Turns to a Roar||9|
|2||Compressed Time: Feed the Rush||27|
|3||Communication Overload: Too Much, Too Often||59|
|4||Dis-Connectedness: We're Linked to Each Other but Are We Connected?||90|
|5||Cost: Poor, Broke, and Paying the Price||126|
|6||Competition: A Multitude of Demands Among Dwindling Resources||157|
|7||Customer Contact: More People Than We Can Handle, More Pressure Than We Need||191|
|8||Computers: The Technology Takeover||222|
|9||Change: More Change Than We Want, Less Change Than We Need||253|
|10||Coming of Age: Old Youths and Young Elders||283|
|11||Complexity: New Ways, Old Rules, Multiple Roles||315|
|12||Getting a Life: The Quizzes Are Over, Get Ready for the Final||346|
|13||The Emergency Department: Where to Go When All Else Fails||360|
Posted September 4, 2001
First impression: Rarely have I seen so much information packed into a book. There's no empty space here. Leslie Charles has produced a treasure chest of information, advice, and perspective. One can almost get a headache reading the volume of information presented in these pages. Fortunately, there's a pattern to the almost overwhelming load. When you see what the author has done, the book is a lot easier to digest, absorb, and apply. In chapter one, Charles explains ten trends that influence all of us. Her position is that these trends complicate our lives. Hearken to this list: Compressed Time, Communication Overload, Dis-connectedness, Cost, Competition, Customer Contact, Computers, Change, Coming of Age, and Complexity. If we can reduce the negative impact of these trends, we can live happier, more fulfilling lives, Charles asserts. In succeeding chapters, readers learn how to respond to each of these trends to create and live a better life. A chapter is devoted to each trend, with a Cranky Quiz in the first few pages. The Cranky Quizzes help the reader assess how much each trend is causing dysfunction. The author then systematically reviews each question, providing answers, insights, illustrations, and advice. The organizational pattern is so simple to work with, it's like being back in school. Be careful, the book can be judged as so systematic that the reader may be tempted to skip whole sections, expecting a predictable flow of answers. It would be easy to miss something of significant value. The book is like that, tugging the reader back to the content just about the time the mind is tempted to wander. The writing style of this author is infectious. She has a delightful way of turning a phrase or playing with words that kept me smiling. Of course, you should know that I am a lover of puns, so I was already susceptible to this brand of playfulness. By the time Leslie Charles shares some personal experiences and insights at the end of the book, we feel like we know her already. Don't expect to read this book in one sitting, though, no matter how comfortable you are with the author and her first-person style; there's just too much material to absorb that quickly.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.