Some of you olds/heads in the audience may recognize the origins of this headline. It comes from a song by Public Image Limited called Rise that came out in 1986. Now the song itself is not angry, at least on the surface. The main refrain is about as friendly as it gets – “may the road rise with you”, repeated times ten in the chorus. So why anger, then?
I theorized this morning it might be a subtle nod to Johnny Rotten’s previous band – Sex Pistols. Now they were angry. With PIL the anger is usually more abstract/veiled kind of fury. Still boiling somewhere below the surface, but mostly hidden out of view. If you’ll pay attention to lyrics you just might hear the following
They put a hot wire to my head‘Cos of the things I did and said And made these feelings go away Model citizen in every way
Could well have been Sex Pistols own if they didn’t implode after one album. And punk/metal usually isn’t short on talking about anger. Case in point – California band Downset with a song called….you guessed it…Anger
Anger, hostility towards the opposition
Much like “Rise” the song repeats/recycles the central lyric + throws in a bit of rap monologue about crimes committed by LAPD (lead singer’s dad shot, among other things). Gritty, disturbing stuff, as you would expect from mid 90s rapcore song.
Fast forward to the current day and we got “Angry” by Rolling Stones (hat tip to Cody / Dystopiate for bringing this one to my attention). Let’s take a look at lyrics, shall we
Don’t get angry with me
I never caused you no pain
I won’t be angry with you
But I can’t see straight (Yeah)
It hasn’t rained for a month, the river’s run dry
We haven’t made love and I wanna know why
Why you angry with me
Why you angry?
I also want to ask the same question to a lot of people on the Internet – why are you angry? What makes you so angry? After all, Johnny Rotten did say that “anger is an energy” – he just didn’t tell use how to use that energy in a constructive way. Perhaps it’s up to us to figure that out.
And let’s go back and examine Downset’s claim that anger is hostility towards the opposition. Who is the opposition? What did they to make us so angry? In that song’s case it was LAPD bringing the pain, but here and now in 2023 it could be Elon Musk and his antisemitism, MAGA, Palestine/Israel war, Russia/Ukraine war or a myriad of other unfortunate events capable of raising one’s blood pressure.
Internet and social media, unfortunately, too often exacerbate the problem of being angry without being constructive. Even on otherwise peaceful Bluesky (symbolic name, of course) I saw people being rude, brusque and obnoxious to me and one another. It goes without saying that the situation with Reddit and Twitter (especially) and people being obnoxious for little reason is far, far worse.
So let’s try to harness that anger a bit and don’t let our tech overlords get away with making money off of our endless, boiling anger. For one, not everyone on the Internet is your enemy. Two – things could always be discussed in a decent fashion, without the need to resort to snipes and name-calling. Three – name-calling usually means instant block. Call me a snowflake (or don’t – I would prefer that, thank you), but I don’t see a reason to continue after someone did an ad hominem attack. Ego bruising is rarely a good idea and that goes for both online and offline environments alike.
And yes, as Johnny Rotten/Lydon put it – may the road rise with you. Keep cool, calm and collected at all times or at least try to. Don’t let the bastards get you down. There’s more us than them, after all.