What Are You Mad About?

Of all the things in your life, or in the news, what makes you the most angry? What are you mad about?

Emotions are complicated. It might be difficult to separate feelings of, say, sadness from feelings of anger. Sorting through those issues might make you evaluate what, exactly, anger is.

We seem to have an excess of anger these days. People are mad about nearly everything, as politicians and media outlets use anger as a tool to manipulate voters or viewers. If you can convince someone to be angry, you might be able to convince them to vote the way you want, or to stick around through a commercial break.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How much is enough?’


Not all anger, however, is manufactured or unjustified. In some cases, people are right to be outraged over some injustice or bad behavior on the part of someone else.

How can you tell the difference? Is the difference between legitimate and manufactured anger emotional, logical, or is there any difference at all? By examining where your anger comes from, and who stands to benefit from your being angry, can you protect against being manipulated by someone else?

What makes you mad? What does your anger make you do? How can you tell what  you actually should be mad about, as opposed to what other people want?

Related questions: Angry or afraid? What is the right amount of emotion? How does media manipulate you?

6 thoughts on “What Are You Mad About?”

  1. I am mad that our economic system does violence to children by letting poverty stunt their brain development, limiting opportunities for the rest of their lives, and contributing to shortening many of their lives as well.

    I am mad that my obituary will likely not read that “He helped end homelessness in Minnesota.” The lack of affordable housing and the feeder systems into homelessness have only gotten worse since I started my advocacy on this issue in 1989 (beginning as an activist in college), when ending this injustice was much more possible. (Ending homelessness is still attainable. We know how but presently lack the political will.)

    I am mad at myself for using acronyms because it’s easier for me to communicate but makes it less likely that regular people to understand solutions to the issues I work on and need their help to resolve.

    1. Michael, your work to end homelessness in Minnesota is not in vain, so give yourself credit for doing great work.

      1. Thank you, Tom. Just to let you know, I don’t think my work has been or will be in vain. It’d be much worse without the work of all us advocates as well as some great elected officials at all levels of government. But that doesn’t absolve governments writ large for responding inadequately despite our cries and demands for a robust response from the beginning. I just want or wanted to be alive to see this one out. (We’ll see how advocacy plays out in the years to come.)

  2. I think of “anger” as different than “mad”. Anger means to me that you want to lash out and hurt someone. To be mad, though, is an emotion that makes you feel crazy, mixed-up. I get mad when I see someone being unreasonable, including myself. I think I have learned over the years not to get really angry.

  3. I try not to get mad about things — I don’t think anger tends to be particularly productive.

    However, I will admit that the percentage of people who are not taking the COVID vaccine makes me alternately angry and depressed.

    I understand that people should be concerned about what goes in their body. But I also think that we routinely take medication prescribed by our physicians, for a variety of different ailments, that we don’t really understand or research. Why is the COVID vaccine any different?

    We could have saved lots of human lives and suffering, and be in a much better place by now, if the vaccine were taken at a higher percentage. That it isn’t makes me mad.

  4. I’m mad about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I’m mad/frustrated this world hasn’t learned to live in peace. I’m mad that people aren’t treating climate change seriously enough.

    Responding to earlier comments, righteous anger is healthy and necessary. Like the bumper sticker says, “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

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