Outrage: The new American way

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 2:30 PM | comments: 0

Have you noticed lately that people aren't happy unless they're outraged about something? Outrage has become a national obsession that drives our politics and much of our culture, and yet it requires practically no effort and results in absolutely nothing happening.

Nowhere is this more true than in social media. Enormous amounts of energy are poured into being outraged about something (examples include Obama, vaccines, climate change, GMO's, the LGBT "agenda," etc.), and the outrage is rarely based in any fact. Instead, it's ripe with hyperbole and willful ignorance, broadcast in an echo chamber where beliefs may not be challenged. "Like and share" is not activism. It requires no effort, and there is no risk. It's just people putting a lot of time into being pissed about something, reinforcing themselves with an electronic mob. If that weren't infuriating enough, it's often intended to thinly veil a sense of victimhood or hate.

The truth is that so much of the outrage isn't directed toward anything that is, in a meaningful way, affecting people adversely. The outrage comes after a decade and a half of our culture insisting that we be scared of something, whether it be terrorism, the economy, income disparity, or some nonexistent threat to your way of life. While the world certainly comes with challenges, as does life itself, the constant outrage doesn't change anything. It doesn't move you or others forward.

Imagine, if you will, that people would instead use this time spent on outrage to learn and study things like economics, anthropology, the sciences... most anything that would result in a better understanding of the world. Or, in lieu of education, what if the time was spent working at a soup kitchen in an urban church, or building a house for Habitat For Humanity, or helping out at Give Kids The World Village? These are the kinds of things that improve the world, and make you more of a contributing citizen of it.

I'm not suggesting that it isn't important to be civic minded. Far from it. What I'm saying is that all of the bullshit outrage accomplishes nothing, and it dumbs-down our culture. There are amazing and great things going on all around you, if you choose to see them and get involved. But you'll never see them if you don't put down you goddamn phone for a minute and stop tapping "like" and "share."


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