Remember back in the day when people thought that violent video games and Marilyn Manson caused real world violence, because every issue in the world can be easily solved by finding a scapegoat in the media? I sure don’t, but that’s definitely something that happened about a generation ago.

We know that violent video games and Marilyn Manson can’t be held responsible for actual violence because we have objective statistics that would disprove such a theory. That being said, everyone is still somewhat influenced by the media they consume. The art we take in can manifest in our lives in a number of different ways, often influenced by the other factors that make us who we are.

When the pandemic first struck, I was in a different headspace than I am now. Over the past 18 months, I’ve felt bluer than usual. In addition to more than 600,000 people dying due to political laziness and the selfishness of the masses, an election and a casual coup, there’s been a number of personal struggles and disappointments that have worked in tandem to break a part of my spirit. When you feel broken, you need to find ways to channel your remaining energy in order to get by.

One way that I’ve been able to handle this is by listening to some new musical artists. The oft-mentioned Nine Inch Nails and Frank Zappa come to mind as some of the most profound discoveries I’ve made since last March. However, in terms of the artist that’s changed my mind the most, I offer special recognition to Rage Against the Machine.

The prime of Rage was a tad before my time. Looking at them retrospectively, though, has been very enlightening. The relatively radical sound and message of the band fueled a fire that was already burning within me. Rage just happened to normalize the feeling.

When I was growing up, my main priority was to get married and have a family. When I was making my college decision, I only cared about what school would make me feel the most comfortable. When I was looking for a job out of school, I mainly focused my search on Northeast Pennsylvania. I’ve always craved a sense of normalcy. That’s not really the case anymore.

I think the message I’ve gotten from listening to Rage Against the Machine’s music is to add a little “micro-rage” to each day. In a world filled with cowards and followers, fighting the control people have over me often feels like the only way to stay sane. I can be a revolutionary, but I’d like to add some flavor to my life in the meantime by not doing what people tell me to do.

So much of performing a micro-rage moment is based in resisting fear. Again, when cowardly energy surrounds you, doing anything but the standard is required. I can’t afford to be afraid of what the mean comments might be after my words are sent out to the world again. I’m owning what I say. The constant feeling of worry is something I’m actively trying to resist by letting my own rage seep out in productive, healthy ways. If I take a 35-minute lunch break instead of one that lasts a half-hour, I want to be comfortable dealing with the consequences. If my guitar practice is too loud, I’ll be fine dealing with those consequences as well. If I obnoxiously scream at the TV when the Chiefs start losing, at least it’ll be a reminder that blood is pumping through me.

I suppose you’d rather not need a band whose debut dropped four years before you were born to remind you that you’re alive, but whatever it takes, right? The alternative is a monotonous, boring, unbearable slog that I truly don’t have the stomach to take at this point. Consider this a heartfelt thank you to Rage Against the Machine, the band that woke up an essential aspect of who I am.