Play Anger

I wish there were a word for anger you don’t believe in.

I mean shallow anger, anger you ‘buy into’ like it’s part of a game. Anger you know would go away if you stopped for a minute to look at the source, but you feel it anyway because it’s fun, because it makes you feel like you’re symbolically supporting some sort of ideology that agrees with that anger.

I feel this anger when horny men message me really stupid things, like “can u send me a pic of ur butthole”. I have no actual right to be angry. I put nudes of myself on the internet, I welcome sexual comments, and I am completely unsurprised by horny men sending me horny messages. Of course. I understand. Deep down I am calm.

But on a surface-pretend level I think lots of terrible insults at them and pretend to think of myself as an empowered woman whose body is sacred and powerful, so powerful not just anybody can look at her butthole, especially not people who sends her grammatically offensive tweets from an account with an avatar featuring a penis lit with flash from a cell phone.

I also feel this with okcupid profiles when I see people say they’re a feminist. I am a bit skeptical of feminism but I can understand how a rational person would agree with it, and it means different things to different people, and I’m open to discussion.

But every single damn okcupid profile aggressively mentions feminism, usually in the first few paragraphs. What do you think you’re doing?? Everyone in your white college-educated town who isn’t turned off by you already is going to also be a feminist. It isn’t brave, it’s unoriginal. All you’re doing is signalling. Your face is conformist and I want to hit it.

When I stop and breathe, I know I don’t actually think that. Smart people mention feminism on their profiles. People I like. They have reasons for it. If I were born them, I would do the same thing. In a way, it’s beautiful. I know this. I understand. Deep down I am calm.

But it’s so much fun to be “angry,” and I increasingly allow it to happen when it doesn’t have actual repercussions – like when I’m alone in my room browsing okcupid, and not when I’m actually talking to someone face to face. The knowledge that I can remove the anger at any point, by just thinking about them with any amount of empathy, makes the anger feel a lot more comfortable. It gives the anger the sense of being a toy that I’m playing with rather than a state that possesses me.

I still need a word for the surface anger, though. For now I’m going to call it playnger but if any of you come up with a more clever term I’d love to hear it.

7 thoughts on “Play Anger”

  1. “Everyone in your white college-educated town who isn’t turned off by you already is going to also be a feminist. It isn’t brave, it’s unoriginal. All you’re doing is signalling. Your face is conformist and I want to hit it.”

    This made me laugh a lot, I had this almost exact reaction yesterday! I love your thinking and writing style.

  2. Old post, but here goes. I think this kind of anger stems from your own intelligence and empathy. If a little kid pulled your pants down, at first you would be mad, but then you’d laugh because they don’t know any better. In some ways “playnger” only happens when you expect too much from other people, and then amusedly admit that your expectations were too high.

    You want the people that see your naked pictures to treat you and your body with the same respect you have for them. You want potential dates on okcupid to be originals with original ideas, because you believe that is what you are putting out into the world. When people do the wrong thing, you get mad at them for a second, before you realize that they are simply being different (oftentimes, dumber) people and may not know any better. So why kick the dog?

    It’s a desire to be angry without any of the impetus to maintain it. Impetuous impetus irritatus. Which is to say, no I don’t have a better word for it, but I think I know what you’re talking about.

  3. The glory of English, which, as chauvinist as it sounds, I still regard as the greatest language of all time, is that it has enough words to cover a spectrum of meanings. Your neologism ‘playnger,’ while fun, is likely unnecessary. It reminds me of something I heard a few years back when someone had issued one of those lists of the most used words of the year. One of the words that year was ‘metrosexual.’ A critic who commented on it asked–rightly so, I believe–‘Don’t we already have enough words to describe men who spend too much time in front of the mirror?’ English almost always has enough words.
    I would suggest that the words ‘indignation’ and ‘frustration’ cover the emotions described in your post. Indignation–an affront to your dignity–covers men who suppose that because you choose to share intimate thoughts and images, they are free to insult you. And frustration at not being able to understand why women who are seeking companionship would announce themselves boldly as feminists. Feminism is, of course, an important element in modern and enlightened discourse, but it is hardly an enticement.

    1. While these words do describe my feelings to some extent, they don’t really convey the concept of non-depth. I feel like both frustration and indignation can both be used to refer to emotions that are ‘believed,’ and this is not what I mean.

  4. I don’t agree with using a new / clever term for this kind of reactionary behavior. Your conscious mind is not your primary mover. Regardless of how you consciously feel underneath, your subconscious is what moves you. You’re reacting with anger because you see something that angers you, even if you conscious mind is eventually able to work through those feelings underneath. This makes subconscious a misnomer, as our “conscious” thought often takes a backseat to subconscious (re)action.

    From your own admission, you place a lot of value on your body. You know what you expect / want to hear. Anything beyond those bounds could cause such anger. This isn’t “play anger”, but a burning indignation. You know what you are, you know what you want, you know what you expect. Anything beyond those bounds could easily trigger you or anyone else. I happen to get irrationally angry at losing when playing a competitive video game. Losing is not what I expected after putting my all into something, so indignation and anger are normal consequences. I get fucking indignant at furries, alt-right folk, religious people, and many more. That’s because I can’t feel empathy for their views, I can’t change their views, and I know they’ll continue to propagate their bullshit because you (I) can’t change people who don’t want to be changed. I have consciously built these associations, and I can also consciously break them apart if necessary. Once the associations are built, the subconscious takes over and reacts accordingly.

    Do we really need another term to describe these feelings?

    p.s – I’m not trying to get into your panties. That might disappoint you, but oh well. I’m here to converse and dig deeper into these topics. Here, take a shovel.

    1. I don’t think your response really encapsulates the concept I’m trying to convey with my post. I’m trying to point out a sense of cognitive dissonance in emotion, particularly in the case of an emotion that is easily relieved with thought and the feeling of empathy, and particularly when I consciously choose not to relieve it out of the motivation of enjoyment or interest. My idea of this doesn’t match your description here.

      1. I’m not sure you can call it anger at all if you’re truly in control of it. In my experience, anger and control do not go together. In my experience, they are antagonists to each other. If real anger rises to the surface, I feel it takes over until it can be superseded by other thoughts and feelings.

        I have a comparable scenario to present: I have a lot of mild road rage. As a driver who values forethought and following basic laws for the purpose of everyone’s safety (turn signals, turning left into the closest lane, being ready to drive when the light turns green, moving to the left lane at a stop-light in case other cars need to turn right, etc), seeing anything that even appears like shitty driving could spark some harsh thoughts and harsher yells. With a little empathy and understanding, it can be seen that SOME of those drivers have valid reasons for what they do. But that doesn’t prevent me from criticizing until proven otherwise.

        The interesting part is I am VERY opposed to screaming at other people directly. My road rage is a private anger that I understand doesn’t need to be shared with anyone else. But it’s still proper anger, I think, because it’s purely reactionary. That may be the key here, because in your scenarios above, you aren’t projecting this anger directly into the senses of the person who caused the emotion. Instead, you’re using your anger privately to reinforce part of your self (even if you are able to soften yourself and empathize eventually). And at the same time, even if you did project that anger onto others, I’m guessing you’d only do it digitally, as there’s a very low risk of any problems arising from telling off someone online.

        Another example would be my g/f becoming privately belligerent towards another driver that seemed confused while waiting for a gas pump. In the privacy of her own car, she wondered aloud why this person was such a fool, and was indignant when she saw this other driver was getting their gas pumped by an attendant instead of pumping it themselves. Lo and behold, reality came into view: A huge blue handicap sign was hanging from the other driver’s rear view mirror. Suddenly, through empathy and understanding, my g/f felt bad for acting in such superior way. This example isn’t perfectly analogous to your own, but there are some emotional parallels, methinks.

        Does all this come closer to the mark?

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