Pat's View: Entitled and angry is no way to go through life
By Patrick Robinson
If you were raised in a home where food was scarce, the clothes were hand me downs and you had no advantages you would develop a world view that in order to get something you had to earn it. That’s largely the world view of what came to be called The Greatest Generation, people who were born during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and lived through World War II. There was no shortage of competition, no shortage of hardships and it made people in that time pragmatic, clear eyed and grateful.
When the Baby Boomers arrived we had come to the 1950’s and 60’s and jobs were plentiful, wages were going up, and it was a time when the parents of those people wanted to spare their children those kinds of life lessons. That’s a natural instinct but it breeds a kind of attitude of ignorance of how truly hard life can be.
Without that knowledge, that direct experience, what was passed along to Millenials and Gen X and Gen Z people is an expectation that there’s always enough and that opportunities to seek a life of growth and self realization are there for everyone.
But that hasn’t changed the expectation and in fact it seems to have grown. So many people now seem as if only they matter, as if they are entitled, well beyond the limits of their rights.
As we form our world view now, often shaped by social media, we see the idealized lives of others, their vacation photos, synchronized dance moves, memes they like, thousands of causes they urge us to support, and we naturally compare ourselves. It’s everybody else’s highlight reel compared to our own often self critical view.
When you add the pressures created by the pandemic, including government mandates, lowered speed limits, supply chain caused shortages, road construction, rising prices, and the political climate in the nation it seems to be almost designed to produce more frustration and anger.
I’m going to suggest you try a thought experiment that comes from the craft of journalism.
When you write a news story, the goal is always to be purely factual, and above all objective. No judgement.
Here’s the scenario: You are driving and a vehicle behind you is about a car length away. You glance in the mirror and see they have a phone up to their ear and while you are striving to be somewhere in the range of the speed limit, they are apparently anxious to get past you, swerving to see past you, revving their engine or even shaking their fist or honking at you, but there’s no where to pull over.
How do you write that story without judgement? To the average person, one of the people is clearly in the wrong. The other doing their best to drive legally. To most people in that situation it’s anger inducing, likely prompting some angry language and/or worse escalating from deliberate braking to “signal” them to back off, then to shall we say “hand signals”, all the way up to genuine road rage.
The person following is not entitled to follow too close, not entitled to be on the phone like that and not entitled to speed, or swerve or to try and intimidate others on the road. But I know far too many people who’ve had this experience or worse. It’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
We are now in a world in which people are so frustrated by their life experience, or worse feel entitled to force their needs on others that they think it’s ok to be a terrible human being on the road.
But you won’t stop them. You can only control yourself and your reactions. So these are the takeaways:
If it’s you that feels entitled, you that speeds, you that leaves too late and has to try and make up for it by forcing your way through traffic, you that is distracted by talking on the phone as you drive, you that thinks only your feelings matter, stop it. Drive like you care about others. Stop treating people like they owe you something.
If you encounter these people as you drive or in life in general, disengage. Let them by. You going to see them again (likely at the next stop light) and as usual they are going look dumb as dirt.