A rise in expressive and aggressive hateful words and actions is not hard to explain. Just hard to fix.

by Bob Schwartz

People, to some degree and in some numbers, experience frustration, alienation and related negative emotions. Some of those people will speak out and act out in response to those emotions in hateful ways. The target for that speaking and acting out may be an individual or a group of individuals, identified by some affiliation or characteristics.

Two things are happening now, as they have happened before in history, and as they always will.

One is an increase in the drivers for that frustration and negativity. It may be economic, social, cultural, ideological. Certain trends are leading some people to feel themselves, individually and as part of a society, put upon by the way things are going.

The second thing is acceptance, encouragement and enabling of that acting and speaking out. The contributors to this are too long to list here, but include for example social media and high-profile individuals. Or better said, high-profile individuals who use and exploit social media.

Once and still, we had and have counterbalancing forces, both in helping to reduce that sense of frustration and alienation and in tempering the acceptability of speaking and acting out in hateful ways. But the presence and power of those forces seems to be diminishing.

Unless and until those counterbalancing forces—those that help reduce frustration and alienation and those that temper the acceptability of hatefulness—regain power, we are not getting out of our situation anytime soon.