Anger is like a precommitment to get revenge, even if the cost of seeking justice is greater than the expected outcome of seeking justice, so in short term it might seem more rational to just accept your loss. The problem is, being known as someone who accepts their loss in such situations, makes you a more attractive target in such situations; and that kind of reputation may cost you even more in long term.
it often makes people angrier when you don’t get (as) angry as they think you should
Are we talking about a situation when someone hurt you and others (or when someone hurt you in a way that makes others also feel like potential targets)? In that case, your reaction makes you a worse ally, because it means you will not participate at mutual defense if the cost of seeking justice is too high.
Or is it a situation when someone tried to make you angry, without doing you any substantial harm? And the person who failed to make you angry is the one who gets angry in turn? In that case, congratulations, you won!
Yes, I agree that anger serves that purpose and I think a person should be aware of that. However,
You have to balance that against the times wherein anger causes negative outcomes. It it really that often that most people in modern societies have to scare off others from not doing further injustices to them or their group to offset the negative outcomes sourced in anger? I can’t think of one time I’ve been angry and felt like it was a useful way to use my emotional resources.
Is anger the only way to signal your reliability to your group and to scare off those who would do further injustices to you? Probably not. For one, I don’t think feeling angry is the only way to achieve the desired signaling. You can just...choose to respond in a way to signal you’re not to be messed with or whatever is appropriate. When signaling is required, there’s multiple non-angry options available to the good-tempered. Biting sarcasm. The air of the unflappable cool person who handles their shit. Just flat out pretending to be angry!
Despite being a friendly person that people generally like (I think!), I’m a fairly solitary individual (by choice!) (I hope!). In my experience it’s been 95% situations wherein I do not need to signal to any group that I’m a reliable member and those who would be on the receiving end of my anger if I had any are people I’ll never see again.
Usually it’s something like the most recent situation I was in wherein I think people would have expected me to react with anger...
There was a young man and woman having a huge screaming fight outside a 4-plex apartment building my parents own. It’d been going on for like 15 minutes so I went over there and told them to keep it quiet and please leave the property. They both got very belligerent with me, and I felt nothing approaching anger. Just amusement evidenced by a smirk. That guy in particular didn’t like the smirk.
I’ll never see those people again. But, if I was going to, or if there were people around to make a mental note about whether I’m a reliable group member, they’d have just seen the guy whom they couldn’t get a rise out of.
There’s been maybe 5 instances in the past 15 years similar to that wherein a person or small group of strangers that I’ll never see again and who were directing their anger at me specifically while I was by myself or with my wife. There’s been one time in the same time period wherein it was prudent to think about signaling to others that I was a reliable group member.
I’m just not so sure that anger is actually more useful than harmful.
I agree that we are probably miscalibrated by nature—adapted to the ancient jungle.
But in certain jungle-like environments, such as high school, it is a good advice to always punch the bully, no matter how rational it seems (i.e. even if you are obviously weaker). Otherwise you get bullied a lot.
I agree with you.
However, in case my last comment wasn’t clear on the subject: I do not think anger is required to punch the bully. I’m not sure anger is required in any circumstance and I’m sure anger has negative consequences no matter the reason for it.