You may or may not have seen me speak recently on The Age of Anger, but that anger is here and it's not going away.
The majority of people in the UK describe themselves as feeling angry or other wisely negative, whether about politics, the government, the state of the environment or education. This anger was at near palpable levels during the general election of 2015, during the Brexit referendum and in both the leadership contests and snap general election that followed.
But here's the thing: Angry voters aren't just angry voters. They are angry people. That anger bubbles over into every sphere of their lives. While the Edelman Trust Barometer - usually viewed as the best global indicator of how people are feeling towards various institutions - showed an implosion in trust globally in 2017, I firmly believe that "Trust" is the wrong measure of the world at this time.
Anger is what matters. Here are the top 3 reasons why this "Age of Angers" matters:
- Anger is not a stand alone emotion. Academic literature shows us that the bottom 28% of people in terms of intellectual ability can be easily# pushed by outside forces along a path from "anger" to "intolerance". This is exactly the path that Russian bots deployed ahead of both the US presidential election in 2016 and the UK's Brexit referendum pushed people along. Fundamentally, anger leaves more than a quarter of our citizens open to manipulation. Considering the closeness of elections recently, this is of huge importance.
- After the Brexit referendum, there was a spike in hate crime in London as recored in the crime statistics of the Metropolitan Police. This is because there is a clear path laid out in academic literature not just from "anger" to "intolerance" and then from "intolerance" to "violence".
- As "angry voters" are not simply voters, we need to genuinely consider how those angry people are fitting into and affecting the society around them. How does this "anger" felt by more than majority of people in the UK impact their employers? Their spouses? Their consumer choices? The brands that they interact with?
From setting policy to selling anything from cars to sodas, we need to take into account this new dynamic. People are pissed off. Are you doing something to help, or make it worse?
Emily Hunt is Chief Data Storyteller & Managing Director of 36NS, a strategy and communications consultancy in London. Clients have ranged from Apple to Unilever, and everything in between. Follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter.