We referenced humorist George Carlin’s description of how drivers tend to refer to someone who drives slower than themselves as an idiot, and someone who drives faster than themselves as a maniac. We concluded that there is no such thing as "sidewalk rage," noting that if you encounter someone on the sidewalk who is walking either slower or faster than you, you don’t give it a second thought.
In today’s Wall Street Journal appears an item headlined Get Out of My Way, You Jerk!, in which researchers say the concept of "sidewalk rage" is real. The article includes the information that on Facebook there is a group called "I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head," a group which boasts nearly 15,000 members.
The article goes on to report many of the researchers’ findings, including how fast tourists walk as compared to local residents, how talking on one’s cell phone affects one’s pace, and even the psychology that causes people to believe that they are the ones "walking correctly."
Still, one key difference appears to be that those who experience "sidewalk rage" often internalize it, getting angry and upset but not venting as motorists so often do. However, it appears possible that some candidates for the Facebook group may eventually replace their secret desire to punch fellow pedestrians with an overt action.
We hope that we’re wrong about that, too. But if we are not, our message from the earlier posting remains true: It can’t be hard to think "excuse me" instead of "moron!"
Photo by Ed O'Keeffe