I don’t quite understand what’s going on.

My news-awareness started in the late 60s. Newspapers were more of a thing then than they are today. Television, after all, only had three channels, an hour or so for news during the evening broadcast, and the morning and evening newspapers were a way to get more in-depth on various things.

This was all during the time of the Vietnam war and its protests, the hippie was a thing, and things were in the paper or on television. It was as you’d expect: People were upset, people were upset at the people who were upset, people were upset at the upset people being upset at the upset people and so forth. And this might seem a bit simplistic, but then after all I was only a kid then, one, and two, people/upset/people is a fairly old formula as well as a traditional basis for reporting.

Yet this upset people business seems to be getting both worse, and more pointless, if not self-serving in our modern times.

But it came home this past weekend where, on a social media site (because now we’re miles past three-channels-and-two-papers) there was a video (because now everybody carries a camera) of a guy flipping out at an airport.

The airport was in Florida and the guy was upset because someone with some airline told him he had to wear a mask.

He didn’t want to wear a mask. No, wait, he didn’t want to wear a mask and he was upset beyond all measure that he was being asked to wear a mask. And when I say “all measure” I mean the guy’s range was beyond all extremes. Things, airport furnishings, were being thrown, curses were hurled, loudly, and right about the time it looked like he’d run out of gas he tore back in again, even taking a swing at some hapless gate agent.

And honestly, maybe you saw the video clip (it’s not very long) maybe you didn’t, but at the same time you can at least picture what I’m talking about, it being so common: Some human, some public setting, massive rage and response beyond all conceivable boundaries. Mad? I mean, people get mad, but this was some bouncing-off-the-ceiling stuff, just over the top.

And it has become a fairly routine event in these modern times to see someone disproportionately enraged.

And I don’t get it. I mean sure, I’ve been mad, time and again the system – whatever system I’m dealing with at the time – has made me angry, sometimes really angry, but I’ve never thrown furniture, or taken a swing.

Punch a guy, who’s no doubt just doing his job, for telling me masks are required?

Something’s not right.

Well of course, utterly untrained social psychologist that I am I can look at this and say the person at the center of these public tantrum videos is mad about something else, that this event was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But what is that? What is that root cause?

And why do so many people seem to have some root cause like that floating around in their psyche?

And sure, pontificating navel-gazing columnist should have the answer here, some “It’s because (something something)” and, having shined a light on the issue, be ready to move on to the next thing (“Cats, now there’s an animal”).

But I just don’t get it. It’s as though everybody’s mad, but nobody has a point other than the enjoyment of a nice warm soak in anger.

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