The ‘Angry’ Emoji and Proverbs 15

 

Proverbs 15: 1, 18 (NRSV)

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention.

 

When emojis first became a thing, I wasn’t impressed and didn’t use them. Now, I use emojis probably 25 times per day. Thank God especially for the “Angry” emoji. That one comes in handy at least several times daily, on Facebook alone. When I read something that makes me feel angry, not one word is needed. I click the emoji and it’s done. Angry. Emotions expressed. For the whole world to see.

It feels so good to be angry all the time. Doesn’t it? Well, not really. It makes me angry that I have to feel angry all the time now.

It didn’t used to be this way. Just four short years ago, I almost never used the “Angry” emoji. “Smiley-face” and “Thumbs Up” and “Heart” were my emoji staples back then. I still use them regularly, but interspersed often now with “Angry” also. There is just so much to be angry about. Isn’t there?

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

A few weeks ago my old auntie in a rural area of a distant state reposted a meme against mail-in voting. I should have let it go, but I didn’t. I didn’t use the “Angry” emoji, but I did post something in response to the bogus claims that had been made. And I didn’t even write “bogus”. Still, there was a barrage of upset if not quite anger that followed my reply. Not from my old auntie. She simply, wrote, “To each there own!” I wrote, “Love you, Auntie!” Smiley-face. Heart.

I thought that would be the end of it. But not so. Auntie’s oldest daughter, no spring chicken herself, and one of my favorite cousins who had grown up almost like a big sister to me–Cousin “Jen” lambasted me. On Facebook. For the whole world to see. We had never exchanged a cross word in more than six decades. Now? Angry words written and posted. The emoji would have sufficed, but my cousin kept going. Not just about mail-in voting, but “deceitful Democrats,” “the Russia hoax and Kavanaugh circus,” the “tearing down of statues of our history,” “bullying the elected President just to prevent his agenda,” “jobs given to people BECAUSE of gender or color,” which is “sexism and racism, isn’t it?”

There was more. What hurt most were the words used accusing me of condescension. And more. From my favorite older cousin with whom I had never had even a disagreement in more than six decades of life together.

Anger also consumes much of the posts on a Facebook group page that I check occasionally. Okay, daily. It’s the County Police Scanner Group. And it is what the name says. Whatever comes across the police scanner gets posted to Facebook. I read some posts there mostly to know what my rural neighbors are thinking and feeling. It’s not pretty. So much vulgarity and vitriol. So much anger. The “Angry” emoji everywhere on that group site. And elsewhere.

Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention.

I probably should unsubscribe to the County Police Scanner Group. And I certainly should not have replied at all to my old auntie’s mail-in voting meme repost on Facebook. But I likely needed to respond to my cousin’s angry response to me. It was relatively easy not to respond to her anger with anger. It wasn’t anger I felt, but shock, hurt, and shame for my family. I felt worried about what is happening to us in this nation, about even families becoming divided by anger. So I did not respond to my cousin in anger. I apologized for whatever I’d written that had seemed condescending. I suggested to Jen that we might do better henceforth to post only photos of our grandkids. I said that I loved her.

Cousin Jen did not respond totally in kind, but she did post a photo of her grandchild, as did I of mine. And she wrote that she loves me too. Does she? Probably so. After more than six decades of family life together, probably so.

A soft answer turns away wrath . . . .

There are things happening today that make me angry and ought to. I saw something on the news the other day, yet again a disgusting act of a powerful politician. I took out my phone and started thumbing a message that I thought might get posted to my Facebook account along with those photos of my grandchild. I wrote:

So for some time I have mostly avoided political posts or reposts, having tired of the flurry of angry memes—like, “Why do you hate him?”—in response to anything that hints of honest critique of such blatant regime dishonesty. But enough is enough. This dictator-wannabe must be stopped. And those of his cult-like following who decide to troll me on this can do your trolling elsewhere. Do it here and we’re done, at least on social media. I’ve had it—with this Supreme Leader and with all who willingly or blindly support his narcissistic cravings. This is not hatred, it is righteous anger against the most dangerous threat to this nation and democracy in my lifetime. You don’t see it that way? No, you don’t. And that realization is to me both shocking and appalling. I am angry.

And then I stopped thumbing my iPhone. And I did not post to Facebook. There is much we need to be angry about, but not everything written in anger needs to be posted for the world to see.

Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention.

Yes. So I am learning. Ever so slowly.

 

PRAYER:

God of us all, there is much in this world about which to be angry with justification. Anger in response to injustice might motivate us to work for justice. So we do not pray to not be angry. Rather, we pray not to be angry all the time, and not regarding matters for which anger is misplaced or not worth it. Hear our prayers, O God.

We pray also to avoid being angry too quickly. Anger in haste leads to angry responses, and the cycle of anger goes on and on. May we practice instead slowness of anger so as to “calm contention.” May we learn self-control, especially on social media, so as to write more often a “soft answer that turns away wrath.” Hear our prayer, O God.

Amen.

 

Anonymous, in respect for those mentioned.

 

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