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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What triggered recent slapping incidents?

A psychologist says bad behaviour can be triggered by stress brought on by social media comments, political factors or price hikes.
Hilwa-Abdullah-1

PETALING JAYA: Did social media comments trigger recent cases of news-making aggressive behaviour, such as the slapping of a film producer and a similar attack on an official of the Penang Chief Minister’s Office?
It’s possible, according to psychologist Hilwa Abdullah of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Speaking to FMT, she associated such behaviour with stress. The stress may be brought on or worsened by news reports or social media comments that are unfavourable to the person who displays aggressive behaviour or to a group he associates with, she added.
“If the person is mature enough, he will be able to digest the comments and news properly,” she said. “If our thinking is positive, we will not have the tendency to react negatively.
“If a person is already angry or under stress, for instance over a price hike or over personal factors, the behaviour could be further fuelled after reading unwanted comments or news. This affects the individual and it could lead to aggressive behaviour, like slapping people, saying bad words or spitting on people.”
Hilwa was commenting on three violent incidents which happened this month.
On May 5, worshippers at a surau in Johor Bahru attacked the driver of a car who honked continuously because his way was blocked by vehicles parked outside the surau.
On May 17, at a National Transformation 2050 dialogue in Putrajaya, actor Sulaiman Yassin slapped film maker David Teo on the face while the latter was complaining that participants were not given equal chances to speak to the host, Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Last Friday, outside a mosque in Penang, Zaidi Ahmad, who works as an information officer for the Penang Chief Minister, was slapped on the face when he posed questions to a group of protestors who accused the state government of interfering in the issuance of fatwas.
Hilwa said such incidents could have been provoked by emotions connected to political factors. She speculated that Sulaiman and Teo might have had some “unfinished” business. Referring to the video footage of the incident, she noted that Sulaiman delivered his slap with a “sense of urgency”.
She also spoke of stress brought on by economic hardship. “Malaysians are under economic stress, especially if there is a fuel hike or price hike,” she said.
She said people could avoid reacting badly to social media comments by reading them several times.
“Sometimes, when a person is in a bad mood, a comment might not sound good. But if you read it a few times, it might not be so unpleasant.”
She disagreed with a suggestion that Malaysians were becoming more aggressive, but said people needed to learn to handle issues and their own emotions in a mature manner.
She also said the authorities could play a role in curbing aggressive behaviour. She said they could look into the causes of stress and if, for instance, the blame fell on price hikes, they could find a way of helping people face the hardship. -FMT

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