The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason developed in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and America (the fact that history as taught in our schools has a decidedly European and American bent is a topic for a different blog, but a worthy topic.) We have moved from that age through the Industrial Age and now are in the waning years of the Information Age. What to call the current age? Well, outrage, umbrage, discord and conflict/confrontation are so prevalent that this might become known as the Age of Outrage. People in general seem to be mere moments away from boiling over about any number of touchy subjects – and the list of touchy subjects just grows without resolution on any of the older items.
What is an office worker to do? We have this notion that emotions don’t belong at the office, but we spend many hours toiling a few feet away from a number of other humans. It would be nice to have a cordial and also meaningful relationship with all of them since we see them a great deal more than we see our own family. We already know to stay away from the two oldest items on the touchy list – religion and politics. (And how sad and ironic that something which was meant to be inclusive, religion, is so divisive.)
I have my own list of subjects that get my dander up, certainly. But the tagline for this blog is Reasonable Expectations. Hence why I started the count of named Ages with the Age of Reason (besides starting with the Iron Age would have made for a long, boring list) because I think that this could help us before future historians do dub this the Age of Outrage.
public domain – Understandably angry about conditions for women in India
Outrage is a response of powerlessness, where reason is a considered decision for growth. Outrage is complaining on steroids and complaining (kvetching, whining) is pointing out something that you think is wrong but waiting for someone else to come along and fix it. But fix it the way that you think it should be fixed or the complaints just escalate. Some offices are so full of complaining that you can practically see it in the air, until the big boss walks through and then there isn’t even a hint.
Reason identifies a problem, tracks it to a root or roots and then sets about coming up with potential solutions. (This isn’t the use of reason as in an alternate word for excuse, rather sound judgment and good sense – thinking, application of knowledge and logic.) Reason offers a path to a better place, a place where the touchy subject no longer holds any power or sway because we know how to correct, prevent or avoid the cause.
Outrage started out as a reasonable tool to gain the fickle attention of the public – all of us in the general populous who are stretching the hours of our day to fit in all of the necessary components – who might otherwise distractedly nod agreement, yes worthy cause please just catch me later. But now the outrage is such a kneejerk reaction to every touchy thing, and the list of these must come on a scroll that rivals Santa’s naughty or nice list, that it is harder and harder to even get that little acknowledgement of agreement for a worthy touchy issue.
We need a reset, to solutions – reason. Starting with common ground, identification of root causes using facts which aren’t filtered through any bias. We’ve tried more outrage as a means to get attention to the growing list of worthy touchy subjects and it led to overload and dismissal.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations