Friday, 1 February 2013
I see people steaming with anger, bitterness, hostility and violence over some perceived insult, festering away for hours with righteous indignation. In the same situation I would probably just dismiss the remark as a bit mean and nasty and then carry on with what I was doing. No rip-roaring emotional avalanche, just a hint of puzzlement and chagrin.
I see people stricken with grief over some appalling tragedy halfway across the world and I think, yes, how awful, a bomb explosion, an earthquake, a mass shooting. But while I sympathise with the hapless victims, I wonder how people can be so overwhelmed by emotion for complete strangers as opposed to their own loved ones. Can they really be that devastated?
Though I have to say that boiling rage is my typical reaction to any kind of deliberate brutality or sadism, be it in Belfast or thousands of miles away. Especially violence against women. So maybe that vicarious grief is as genuine as my vicarious anger.
Then again, I see people consumed by disappointment over a ruined dress or a disastrous holiday, sunk in gloom and recrimination as if their life has collapsed. Their distress seems out of all proportion to what happened. Sure, I would be disappointed too, but I wouldn't be knocked for six by it. I'd just be a bit miffed and wanting to stop it happening again.
Am I lacking some basic emotional reflexes? Some essential human sensitivity? Or am I just too sanguine and philosophical to get worked up into a blistering lather over things that simply don't deserve it? Am I a cold fish or a cool cookie?