strangely satisfying styrofoam smashing

There’s a strange satisfaction to be gained from destroying styrofoam eskies. (I was going to explain why I was destroying styrofoam eskies but I realised that that wasn’t important and would probably be boring to most of you. The basic idea was that they needed to be broken down to be discarded.)

Perhaps there’s a strange satisfaction to be gained from destroying things in general. And not necessarily out of anger or frustration, or even hate or anguish. When I was smashing up those two big styrofoam boxes yesterday, I wasn’t feeling any of those emotions (or was I? It’s a bit hard to tell, since it was the end of the day, and it had been a long up-and-down sort of week).

Oh, it created quite a mess, and I had to sweep up afterwards, but the snapping and smashing of something sturdy enough to give some resistance but not too sturdy to require too much exertion – that was satisfying nonetheless.

I saw a post on FB the other day where someone was just randomly wondering why people slam doors when they’re angry or upset. I suppose if you were arguing with someone, the act of slamming a door between the two of you would help heighten their perception of your anger; but if you were alone and angry, you might slam the door anyway, and there’d be no one to see or hear the extent of your anger.

I feel like someone has probably written a paper on this and published it in some psychology journal or something.

What’s interesting, though, is that if I’m not angry/frustrated/etc, if I’m feeling neutral or better, and I slam a door shut (by accident or intentionally), I don’t feel better at all (if anything, I feel bad for slamming the door, even if no one was around to be offended by it). However, my baseline emotions don’t affect the satisfaction I get out of destroying styrofoam boxes. Maybe because it serves more of a purpose?

But what of shredding paper? I remember a time when I was a kid when my dad randomly bought a paper shredder. We didn’t really have a need for it, but he bought one, and I quite enjoyed feeding paper through it and watching it all get cut up into thin strips. There’s also something strangely satisfying in ripping up paper by hand. Similarly to smashing styrofoam, you need the right number of sheets to provide the right amount of resistance. Shredding paper (by hand or machine) may or may not be productive, but is oddly satisfying either way.

I could probably go on and on with other destructive examples, deconstructing each one, but I won’t because, well, it’s time for lunch (the very thought of which is almost always satisfying).

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