Several years ago, back when I owned a dog, I was walking him through my neighborhood so he could do his business. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the temperature was just right. He was the typical excited dog, pumped up to be taken on a walk. We both were having a great time.
Another dog suddenly leapt from the trees and was running around us. My dog was on leash, this dog was not. After watching him for just a few seconds, I could tell that something was very wrong with this dog. He was bounding around in random directions, seemingly for no reason, and was very hyperactive. He was running all over people’s yards, back on forth across the street and basically acting like a maniac. A stray? A runaway? Something else? I had no idea.
My dog and I did our best to ignore him, but he more or less started to follow us, bounding back and forth across the street like a moron.
Soon, a car drove down the street. The insane dog walked across the street, right in front of the car. The guy in the car slammed on his breaks, looked at the dog, looked at me walking my dog, and screamed, “Hey! Is this your dog?!?”
“No,” I said calmly, “This is my dog,” I indicated my well-behaved dog on his leash.
The guy glared at me, as if this other random dog was my fault. The dog would not move away from the front of the car. The guy swerved around the dog, gave me another angry look like I was lying to him, and drove off.
I chuckled and continued my walk. About a minute later, another car drove by and the insane dog once again darted in front of it. The driver of this car, a woman, rolled down her window. “Hey!” she screamed at me, “You really need to put your dog on a leash!”
“That’s not my dog,” I said, “This is my dog. I have no idea whose dog that is.”
“Well,” she screamed, getting angrier, “You need to put your dog on a leash, sir!”
“My dog is on a leash,” I responded, indicating to my dog, who was on a leash. I tried not to sound sarcastic, but I’m sure I failed.
She shook her head and sputtered something, swerved around the insane dog, and drove off.
Two more times this happened. A car would drive by me on the street while I was minding my own business, the stupid stray dog would stand in the middle of the road or leap in front of the car, the car would come to a halt, someone would roll their window and then scream at me as if I owned the dog and it was all my fault. This, despite me clearly holding onto a completely different, well-behaved, leashed dog. The fourth driver actually swore at me, screaming “The hell you think you’re doing?!? Control your fucking dog! You need to put him on a leash!”
More interestingly, when I told these people that I didn’t own the dog, that I had no idea whose dog it was, and that I had never seen it before, all of them (and I mean all four of them) got even more angry. They reacted as if I was lying or making up some kind of excuse.
To be clear, this wasn’t in a crowded, stressful city full of angry people, like New York or Shanghai. This was in a sleepy, peaceful suburb of Portland, Oregon.
If one out of the four drivers had reacted this way, then I would assume that one driver was having a bad day and taking it out on me. But when all four random drivers behaved this way, I found it fascinating. I was observing, in real time, a major flaw in human behavior. Not only about how easily people are angered, but how easily people misdirect that anger at a convenient yet completely innocent, unrelated, misdirected target.
As an internet content provider, I am regularly attacked by angry people for things I literally never said. I am even attacked for viewpoints I supposedly hold that are the opposite of my real and clearly stated views. It’s really amazing. This happens regularly to other bloggers, writers, YouTubers and content providers of all kinds. You see content providers complaining about this all the time.
I wonder how much anger there is in the world that’s completely misdirected at the wrong places. If you add up all this anger, the amount is staggering.
Isn’t that interesting?