Rage Rooms: Don’t Meditate. Just Break Stuff.

USA TodayRage rooms, also known as smash rooms, have opened in cities around the world, and they offer a safe place for people to shatter away their anger. You can pay as little as $15 for a BYOB package – that’s bring your own breakable – if you want to destroy some keepsakes of your own. You can pay $95 for the “Couples Therapy” package, which comes with two electronic items, such as a printer or laptop, and two buckets of dishes. You can pay up to $300 for the “Overkill” package, which includes 100 items such as televisions, wine bottles and printers.

The premise behind these rage rooms is they offer you a way to relieve stress or manage your anger.  You pay them to let you blow off steam or get your anger “out of your system”.  This is supposed to be good for your mental health and is offered as an alternative to working out or meditation.  Here’s my problem with this concept:

If I get mad enough to start smashing stuff, that happens right now.  It’s an immediate reaction to something that is happening in the moment that sends me over the edge.  I smash my thumb, the instructions to the IKEA cabinet I purchased aren’t thorough enough, my computer crashes and I forgot to save something I’ve been working on for 4 hours…stuff like that.  By the time I take a 40 minute drive to the rage room, the rage is gone.  I just had a 40 minute cool down period.  I listened to some music, maybe a podcast, whatever the case…I’ve cleared my head and my blood pressure is back down to normal.  Now I have to park, walk inside, swipe my debit card, pick out a bat and try to get pissed off all over again, so I can start breaking shit.

The part of this business model that makes the least sense to me is that they are charging me $15 to break my own shit.  Let’s say I live in an apartment downtown and I don’t own anything that I can swing at the things I want to break.  I can go to a hardware store and buy a hammer for $15.  Then the next time my girlfriend dumps me, I can smash the photo of us drinking margaritas on the beach in Cancun…for free.  Or I can simply remove the photo from the frame, tear it up with my bare hands and replace it with the selfie I took with Guy Fieri at Monster Jam.  Also free.

That brings me to the “Couples Therapy” session they’re selling.  Being in a relationship can be very stressful.  Sometimes things happen that can put a strain on the bond two people share.  Relationship stressors range from financial problems, overly intrusive in-laws, disobedient kids to more severe issues, like infidelity.  So, now we’re going to help repair a relationship that’s been torn apart by something as horrible as infidelity…by arming them with baseball bats?  Then locking them in a room together?  That’s not Couple’s therapy.  That’s The Hunger Games for divorce.

I’m not buying any part of this mental health PR spin.  I think rage rooms are making their money from people who are really into vandalism but don’t want to go to jail.  I see a lot of vandalism, so I assume that there’s an alarming number of people that have to keep that part of their personalty secretly locked in a closet.  When they come to your home for game night, they can’t help but stare at the china cabinet that showcases the tea set your grandma left you before she died.  They’re tortured by the relentless impulse that pounds their brain with messages to jump up from the table, grab a chair and smash that fucking china cabinet and the 9-piece tea set your grandpa brought home from the war, into a thousand tiny pieces.

If it keeps lunatics like that from going nuts and breaking our shit, then I’m all for it.  Make your money rage room owners.  But, I’m not convinced you’ve cornered the market on stress-relief.  I give this fad 2 years at the most.  Then we move on to the next one.

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