I saw a recent newspaper article musing about an 'anger epidemic' and tracked down the original story it used to make its point:
A big part of recovery is getting a handle on one's anger. When anger is suppressed, it often distorts into depression. When it is expressed, it can very often result in guilt and shame. Anger is, for most of us, a dubious 'gift.'
We live in a society where the extremes come to dominate. We are either utterly suppressed with the expectation of docile political-correctness, or we launch into extremes of violent hoodlumdom. Men are expected to be passive hipsters or aggressive gang-bangers.
I would say that our modern lives make the flaws of humanity all the more difficult to manage. When you get drunk or high, there is someone there to record every embarrassing moment (in many cases, these are self-documented). However, most of us are capable of shaming ourselves without abusing substances. Just a little taste of raw humanity is enough get us to do things that we would otherwise not do.
It is magnified in American culture, which is dominated by the temperance and reserve of Northern European cultures. Southern Europeans scream and shout when they get angry (and sometimes when they are not angry at all), whereas their northern neighbors are expected to remain 'cool.' In America, the clash of cultures is obvious in the streets, where the cool and collected are expected to be the cops, and the hot-heads are the bad guys they are chasing.
I'd like to tell you that one way or the other is healthier. However, we know that the calm and collected types struggle with drugs and alcohol just as much as the emotions-on-the-sleeve folks do.
The problem is not with how we express or repress our fears, but rather the actual having of the fears. Fear is our enemy. Do we have a fear epidemic? I would say so.
Sure, our ancestors struggled with many fears, but I would say that we have far more fears now than ever before. We are worried about many more things than we have ever worried about before, thanks to the internet, which drags the worlds cares to our desktop computer, laptop, and smart-phone. We have a diverse range of new worries to add to the traditional worries about family life and basic survival:
These fears result in anger.
Many people turn to addiction as an escape from the constant anxiety that modern society demands of us, coupled with the easy lives even the street person of today experiences. Look, in most of the world where there are high addiction levels we see few people dying in the streets. Addiction requires a safety net of enablers, intentional and otherwise, that keep the addict fed and sheltered once he loses his functionality. Now, the solution is not in people dying in the streets, but rather in addressing the common fears we all experience.
This is why Faith is so important. Even primitive man understood the importance of faith from a purely practical perspective. The Romans very often did not believe in their gods, but they understood the importance of public religion as a stabilizing force both on a social and personal level.
If we are worried about a rising tide of anger, we should look to the modern tendency to suppress religion, particularly Christianity. I think there is a correlation.