The state of annoyance


How often do you get annoyed? Have you ever examined the triggers? A. Radhakrishnan tells you why you get annoyed, and how to get over it.

The dictionary defines annoyance as ‘the feeling or state of being irritated, annoyed with someone; a nuisance, an unpleasant mental state characterised by irritation and distraction from one’s conscious thinking. Its synonyms are irritation, exasperation, vexation, indignation or anger.

A study found that one’s response to an annoyance, at least when the perceived cause is another person, escalates to more extreme levels as they go unresolved. Many stimuli that one is at first neutral to, or even finds pleasant, can turn into annoyances from repeated continued exposure such as popular music, memes, commercials, and advertising jingles.

I am basically a person who lets go. Yet human that I am, I realise that annoying people are inevitable. Hence, my pet peeves and frustrations. My inner Hulk shows its ugly face many a time. Being a perfectionist, makes me very unpopular at home too!

Am I just sensitive?
I get annoyed by people who are wasteful, impatient or selfish, those trying to be one-up on others, the ones who pass value judgment, and so on. Other triggers are unnecessary honking, yawning, talking loudly on the cell phone, burping, back-biting, those who fail to keep promises and those who sponge off others. Someone cracking their knuckles or even someone leaving cabinets open at home. Well, the list is endless.

Look at the smartphone onslaught. Your phone lights up with a loud ping of a WhatsApp message. A series of pings follow, waking you up from your deep slumber to see who’s messaged you so early in the morning and if it’s anything important. It’s just a string of good morning messages from people and various meaningless groups you are part of. Relentlessly and religiously, we are being spammed with images, videos and greetings that make the morning anything but good. Clearly some people have no purpose in life other than annoying the hell out of others.

Facebook, the largest social network has destroyed original thought, conversation, debate and discussions in general. Today one does not have to be a person of significance. Fake news has grown because more and more people are claiming ownership over information that was hitherto reserved for the educated and privileged. Abusive reactions and trolls and not responses have become the order. Try and put in a contrary opinion and you will be ignored, or angrily chastised.

You have to contend with all kinds…the narcissist who constantly posts selfies, the friend who does not know how to shoot a decent photo but passes off as a veteran, the vague-booker ranting for a paragraph with no explanation, which is absurd and pointless. And there are those who constantly post pictures of their only child, showing him/her eating, sleeping, swimming, pooping, attempting to poop as they are being toilet trained, and playing catch with a baseball/football/soccer ball.

Add to it fake sayings, rescued animals, neurotic people laying out their insane actions for everyone’s edification, and musicians who believe that the entire world is dying to come to their next gig! And oh, the game invites and the tagger. And the relentless liker.People who don’t seem to otherwise have a life, are revolting!

Individuals using profanity as punctuation marks in conversation; the ones who ask stupid questions like ‘You had a bath?’, when you emerge from a bath. Or when you are having a repast ask, ‘Are you having breakfast?’ Reminds me of an anecdote where a man dies and a person taps the shoulder of a pall bearer and asks if he is dead. Pat came the reply. ‘No no. We like to carry shrouds and he likes to sleep!’

At seminars and conferences, I have often encountered uncultured and uninformed people attending only for the free lunch or else indulge in networking. Activists on TV channels talking banally annoy me no end. I seethe when two horoscopes on one day give me completely different forecasts. Children should be banned from reality shows. Exploited by insensitive judges it puts pressure on them to perform. Their purity and innocence lost, the children suffer trauma once the show is over.

People who pretend to be uninterested when someone is speaking, either have the attention span of a hummingbird or have great egos. Some try to be funny but end up between being funny, annoying or obnoxious. Many people, though accomplished and wonderful and great as friends, brag nonstop and can’t even take the hint of annoyance from the body language or eye moment of the other.

Countering annoyance
So how do we counter annoyance?
Sometimes, you are annoyed, grumpy and easily irritated all the time with people, when it isn’t even their fault, but can’t pin down what’s bugging you. Develop the skill of being able to recognise when you’re being unfair. Remember, you can’t change everything about the world, but you can change how you react to it. Feel free to disagree, but please remember to be respectful.

I am basically a person who lets go. Yet human that I am, I realise that annoying people are inevitable. Hence, my pet peeves and frustrations. My inner Hulk shows its ugly face many a time. Being a perfectionist, makes me very unpopular at home too!

We often assume that others share in our emotions, and when they don’t, and they often don’t, our self-presentation fails. Do not try to one-up the other person. Never counter or interrupt a person sharing an experience, with your own. Give him or her the space to share freely.

We beat ourselves up when we try to be more patient, to be more understanding or charitable, and don’t succeed. More stress hormones flow, perpetuating the cycle of annoyance, impatience, intolerance, and burn-out. There is the need to reduce stress where possible and to be aware of the effect of chronic stress on our life, our reactions.

As Scott Westerfeld puts it, “I have no problem with commentators stating strong opinions, except for my usual annoyance with people who don’t agree with me”.


A.Radhakrishnan is a Pune based freelance journalist, poet, and short story writer.