We are all irritated by different things. People take long detours in order to avoid stopping at a couple of traffic lights. Others cannot let anyone cut ahead of them in a line. Or bear to be left out of a particularly juicy bit of gossip. We have all felt the collective exasperation when a delay in the flight is announced. Glared at the snotty kid who throws a tantrum in public and the parents can’t seem to take control. Shaken our fist at the driver who leans on the horn. Grimaced at a dropped chance in a cricket match. Frowned at the family that speaks too loudly in a restaurant. Or wracked our brain for someone’s name we just can’t seem to recall. Or the words of a song that was hummed just yesterday. Normal everyday situations. And yet, they have a profound effect on our mood that could last the whole day. In fact some of the things that upset us are so trivial that we wonder why they affect us the way they do.
Psychologists will tell you it is hormonal – that we react to things that we don’t like or expect in different ways. Which is true. There are mothers who are paragons of patience staying calm in the face of constant wailing. Or players who give off their best even when hecklers in the crowd dominate. None of us can really predict how we will respond to a provocation until we actually come face to face with it. Some of us are laid low by an unkind word. On the other hand, some writers will take any number of caustic rejections and keep at it till they finally make the cut.
It is amusing to see the amount of effort and vitriol expended on forums when Facebook makes a change in its interface. Flame wars erupt when a user criticises a Mac or a PC ad campiagn lampoons a Mac. The horde of Mac lovers come down on the hapless writer as if their pride is hurt, and it probably is. Some people will walk into a restaurant, take the bad service and do nothing about it. Others will post a long diatribe in Yelp or any of the complaint sites and trash everything from the decor to the dishes. The anonymity and the ease of complaining ensure that those who have a grouse will act on it. Some of them are truly entertaining. A well written scathing review is a lot of fun to read, as opposed to a bland and turgid one. There’s only so much sweetness we can take on any given day.