COULD you be suffering from Coronavirus Anger? I know I am. The symptoms include losing your sense of perspective, a persistent feeling of frustration, and a high chance of shouting at the telly or posting something stupid on social media. You may already have been a victim of the anger without realising it.

Quite why the anger is spreading I’m not sure, but it’s there. The Co-op has reported a rise in assaults on their staff in recent weeks and bosses at the company are worried that the rule on masks is going to make things worse. Forced to queue, and wait, and follow arrows round the shop, and now wear masks on their faces, some people have snapped.

It’s understandable. Suddenly, severe restrictions have been placed on our lives and to make things worse, for half the population the restrictions are being imposed by leaders for whom they have no respect (Nicola Sturgeon and/or Boris Johnson). The anger has also been increased by the confusion and division among experts, which has led to many people thinking that the restrictions are out of proportion. Hence: anger.

It also hasn’t helped that for a long time we’ve been detached from other people. This means that, in isolation, there may be no one to tell you to calm down dear. Sitting watching the TV on your own, Johnson or Sturgeon may also have become even more infuriating. And over on social media there are idiots telling you why they won’t be wearing a mask or idiots telling you why they will. I can feel myself getting worked up just thinking about it.

If any of this sounds familiar – if you have shouted at a man called Boris or a woman called Nicola, if you have commented under the line on newspaper columns, if you have tutted or shouted at someone who isn’t wearing a mask, or if you have in any other way fallen victim to one of the symptoms of Coronavirus Anger, then can I make some suggestions? Can I be your anger management counsellor?

There are three steps to the treatment. First: for God’s sake, start seeing people. For some reason, I’ve detected a reluctance among some to come out of the lockdown conditions – to go back to the office, or the pub, or friends’ houses. But do it. Be sensible and observe the advice, but do it. I’ve had friends to stay a few times and I spent last weekend seeing the godchildren and it was massively good for my mental health. I couldn’t feel angry about idiots anymore because I was having a laugh.

Which leads me to the second treatment: watch something that makes you laugh. During lockdown, almost everything I’ve watched on TV has been comedy. I’ve worked my way through all four series of Monty Python, most of Frasier, all of The IT Crowd, several Chaplin films and lots of other stuff, and all of it has been good for me. Quite quickly during lockdown, I realised that distancing from people who could give me the virus also meant distancing from people who could make me laugh so it was important to keep laughing in other ways. If you’re laughing, you’re not angry.

The third stage of the treatment, and possibly the most important, is: Come Off Twitter. Social media, but particularly Twitter, is a taxi-rank at 2am, it’s the man who says “Did you spill my pint?”, it’s a barking dog straining at the end of a piece of rope. It’s angry and it will make you angry too. Delete it.

These are just three of the steps you can take, but part of the problem may be that Coronavirus Anger is simply a mutation of a disease that was spreading throughout society beforehand. The actor Russell Crowe has just made a film about road rage and is worried that anger has become a kind of default.

"I started to realise this type of rage is happening continuously all over the place,” he said recently, “That seems to be a place we've arrived at in Western society. For our example, it's a guy using a car as a weapon, but it's also people stepping into places of worship, schools, nightclubs, and opening fire. It's people going crazy in a supermarket over toilet rolls."

The toilet roll debacle that Russell refers to was, of course, another consequence of coronavirus: people became angry and belligerent about the right to have lots of paper to wipe their bums with. But they were also afraid, and being afraid is one of the other routes to fury. Perhaps, as the deaths hopefully reduce, people will slowly begin to feel less fearful. Perhaps we will change. Perhaps we will become less angry.

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