Saturday, June 07, 2008

room rage

Gizmodo has some video of a crazy guy tearing up a cube-farm office in Russia. The second video gives sound effects of the smashing of furniture, the tazer, and the voices in Russian.

I don't think this is just an incomprehensible rage. If you watch the guy's actions, you can see a rational progression in his actions.

1. First, he is having some sort of conflict and decides to try resolving it by intimidating the other party. So he takes his keyboard smashes the other guy over the head with it. You can see him preparing to do it, breathing deep to screw up his courage to hit the larger man. He thinks that a quick fit of violence to frighten the larger man and then he will be able to face him down over whatever their conflict is.

2. After crazy guy hits big guy with the keyboard his courage fails. You can see him start to back away, lowering his head to avoid eye contact. Suddenly afraid that he won't be able to intimidate the larger man even with the attack, crazy guy instead turns to attack the smaller man to his right. It is a violent action that he can screw up his courage for, and it confuses the issue: "see, I didn't personally attack you; I just went crazy in general". It also delays the face-to-face confrontation, and makes him look more frightening to the larger man. Senseless, violence is more frightening than violence with an obvious, limited purpose.

3. Then, still afraid to make eye contact with big guy who was the original focus of the attack, crazy guy rips out his monitor and throws it in the direction of big guy, causing big guy to retreat but not actually at big guy, which could lead to an immediate fight. He keeps his head lowered to avoid eye contact, another thing that could lead to a fight.

4. So he throws his monitor at another monitor owned by a woman --another person weaker than him. The monitor falls on the woman and she falls back, very likely injured. At this point, the man realizes that he has gone too far and that he is potentially in real trouble. He starts to go toward the woman to see if she is injured and then realizes that this will be taken as a sign of weakness. So instead he bends down to pick up some papers, still avoiding eye contact with big guy. He wants the rampage to be over at this point now that the issue is confused enough that big guy is not going to fight him.

5. Now another smaller man begins to berate him for his behavior. His courage starts to come back as no one physically confronts him. So, he now tries to intimidate the man scolding him. He throws some papers and picks up and throws a few other items. His purpose here is to intimidate everyone in the office so that they are afraid to bring consequences against him. This isn't rational any more, because we have police and security to deal with this sort of thing, but you can see how effective it would be without those forces. The rampage has everyone intimidated. No one wants to confront the crazy guy.

6. However, people are still berating crazy guy and so after he stops, he starts up again; this time determined to really convince everyone that he is crazy. You can see the essential cowardice behind his actions when the security guard comes in and wrestles him for the wooden sign that he is using like an axe. The security guard is much smaller, but is willing to actively confront crazy guy. Crazy guy retreats to stand on a desk and throw things.

The man is acting crazy, but he is not unaware of what is going on, or unable to grasp that what he is doing is wrong. It starts with his decision to use a physical attack to intimidate someone and then spirals out of control as he continues to try to use violence to intimidate everyone in order to put off the time of the inevitable consequences. He is motivated primarily by fear after the initial attack as you can see by the way that he avoids eye contact, throws things in the direction of people rather than at them except when he throws the book and hits the security guard on the head, but the security guard was a direct threat at that point.

Most definitely, this is not cube-rage --a mythological condition where someone is driven to insane anger by the "dehumanizing" environment of cube-style offices. Modern offices --all modern offices-- are wonderful, relaxing, comfortable places to work compared to the working conditions of most of humanity throughout most of the the existence of the human race. People who whine about modern working conditions are spoiled idiots who have no idea what genuinely bad working conditions are.

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