While enduring a cross-country flight not long ago, I ran across a disturbing article in Hemispheres magazine, May 2016, that described a new business called the Anger Room. This is a facility where one can go and break things up. The purpose is to vent aggression in a safe environment. People can rent rooms for varying lengths of time, and the rooms can be set up in a variety of ways, according to the needs or whims of the client. They can even include mannequins for people to break up. The fact that ordinary people are so angry that they need to hurt a substitute person is very disturbing. It is an indictment of our society that there’s a market for people to do this. I was appalled.
We need to remember that Albert Bandura told us long ago that vicarious participation in violence, specifically on television, promotes violence. Much research supports this theory. People continue to ignore it, however, and allow their children to play violent computer games, watch violent movies, and play violent sports. Military service is extolled. The local news is full of violent crime. There is a great outcry when there is a school shooting somewhere, or some other noteworthy violence, yet our society does not consider violence to be bad, it seems. The problem is, the more violence one sees, and the more one behaves in a violent manner, whether from sports or acting out behavior such as at the Anger Room, the more violence becomes natural and part of one’s physical being. It becomes part of one’s muscle memory, almost habitual, if you will. When one sees violence and behaves violently, it becomes easier and easier to do, and can even become normative.
The reason we have such a violent society is because of our outdated frontier values and our lack of honesty with ourselves. There is far too little interest and participation in contemplative activity, which is far less normative than aggression. Criminals commit crime because it is unconsciously condoned by society. The news is full of violent crime, as if it were important. It isn’t; but it does sell the news. News should inform us of significant events in the world, not merely entertain us with video of interpersonal assaults. As long as this continues, we’ll have violence-filled news, overflowing prisons, and brisk business at the Anger Room.
Copyright © 2016 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.