Having a slow internet connection and being in slow traffic aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Then how come it infuriates us almost instantly? Here’s why we snap, and how we snap out of it, according to a neuroscientist.
Photo by jmiller291.
If you’ve ever quickly lost your temper at something and “snapped”, it turns out you’re a perfectly normal human. Neuroscientist R. Douglas Fields, senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health and author of Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain, suggests that there are nine major triggers that cause our brains to go from zero to 100 on the anger highway. Each trigger has to do with how our brains are wired for survival, even when it comes to trivial stuff like internet and traffic on the M5. Fields explains to Melissa Dahl at The Science of Us:
It’s the S trigger, and the S stands for stopped. You’re stopped — it’s like you’re being restrained. And any time an animal is restrained, it will engage in an aggressive reaction to get free. It will chew its arm off if it’s in a trap. And people will do the same thing… But here’s the key: Your internet’s slow, or you’re stuck in traffic. Why are you suddenly angry, fuming angry, instead of some other human emotion, like dreadfully bored? That is because anger is [meant] to prepare you to fight. That’s what it’s there for. It’s tripped this trigger to prepare you to fight, because you are trapped.
Your sudden rage comes from being cornered in a sense. Slow internet means you can’t get work done in a timely manner (or can’t watch cat videos without having to wait for them to buff), and being stuck in traffic is a literal form of being trapped — even though you know deep down you’ll be out of it relatively soon. So what can you do? Fields continues:
…the minute you recognise that — you’re on the internet and nothing’s loading, and you start to get riled up — if you just think, Oh, I’m angry because of the S trigger, it just goes away. You realise kicking at your screen is not going to solve this problem.
Stop and give yourself a moment to realise you’re not in danger, you’re just annoyed. If you want to keep yourself from snapping into a fit of rage, you need to take a deep breath and snap back to reality. The whole article is worth a read, so check out the link below to learn more.
A Neuroscientist Explains the Phrase ‘I Just Snapped’ [Science of Us]