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An author gets a bad review from a blogger and takes to the Comments page to go on a rant about how stupid the blogger is.

My three-year-old is mad because he can’t have a snack while breakfast is cooking.

A politician loses an election and gripes that the other person only won by buying votes.

My other kid is incensed that she would be asked to clean her own room.

What do all these people have in common? Other than occasionally peeing their pants?

They are all having tantrums. I don’t mean simply expressing disagreement with an opposing viewpoint. I mean an all out, arm waving, top of the lungs shit-storm. It could be metaphorical – the author typing his angry missive about the bad review – or literal – my kid chucking toys across the room, thereby freaking out the cat. (My cat also rarely follows any blogs for the same reason.)

You could argue that an adult expressing outrage – at a blogger, at a bad driver in front of you, at a less than diligent barista – is not the same thing as a kid rolling around on the floor, thrashing and wailing. But I beg to differ. A tantrum is a tantrum. Substitute cursing and flipping the bird for mucus and tears if you want, but it’s still childish behavior.

Are tantrums healthy? Probably not. Perhaps for a kid whose ability to express emotion calmly is not very well developed, it’s at least understandable. For an adult, though, you really should know better. Alas, we’ve all done it. Let stress and pressure get us and erupt. You feel stupid afterward, right? Well, you should. Even the kid tends to feel at least temporarily contrite after a tantrum.

Are tantrums normal? Don’t know. Certainly seem to be. You see them a lot out in public – Black Friday is virtually made for them. Just imagine how many tantrums go on in all the other homes in your neighborhood. Think of all the tantrums that go on in your OWN home. We all hate them, cringe at them, flee them like a burning building or Jehovah’s Witness coming to your door. But we all do it or instigate it or enable it.

Some schools of thought will have it that releasing any and all emotions any way you see fit is the only way to live. Don’t bottle things up, they say. You’ll have a stroke if you do, they say. Maybe there’s some logic there, but there’s a difference between letting feelings out and dealing with them and hurling a plate of spaghetti at the minimum wage work behind the counter. (Someday, I’m hoping Olive Garden will let me back in. Kidding…there’s no chance in hell. Also, they shouldn’t offer unlimited breadsticks if they don’t really mean it.) I’d like to think society is developing into a more mature, respectful (don’t have to always agree, but at least listen), thoughtful bunch of folks.

I’m probably delusional.


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