Outrage Fatigue

Yes, a variation on XKCD's Duty Calls. Decided to be a little different.
Yes, a variation on XKCD’s Duty Calls. Decided to be a little different.

Somewhere on the Internet, right this very second, someone is writing a post or comment that you would find utterly unacceptable and outrageous.

I’ll give you a second to get over that.

Ready now? Good.

The upside to the Internet’s gift of near instantaneous communication to people almost anywhere in the world is that we can share our thoughts and opinions.

But of course, the downside to the Internet’s gift of near instantaneous communication to people almost anywhere in the world is that we can share our thoughts and opinions.

All this sharing and feeling inevitably leads to outrage. Outrage over what the politician said. Outrage what the actress did. Outrage over what the dog trainer did.

Lots of outrage. 

And then, at least for some of us, we end up with outrage fatigue. We stop getting outraged, because we just stop caring. In some ways this is good – maintaining a near-constant state of outrage isn’t mentally or physically healthy. In other ways it can be bad – while outrage might not be productive, caring certainly can be.

So the question is, when should you care? Obviously things that directly effect you and people you care about are things you should care about. Maybe drawing a line at things you can or cannot change and at actions that will or will not change them is a start? Can you stop those celebrities from hitting each on elevators? Can you get a TV show cancelled? Will posting post yet another video excerpt from that show help get it cancelled…or maybe get it more viewers? Will linking to yet another rant from thinkprogress.org or drudgereport.com change minds or start another fight?

Remember, the people buying ads don’t care why they get eyeballs, only that they do get them. Spreading outrage doesn’t hurt them – it’s part of their marketing plan. That applies to reality show producers, politicians, and A&R executives.

I am far from being able to say that I am taking my own advice here. You don’t have to dig deep in my timeline to find an Internet mortar shell or three. But I’m working on it.

What are your thoughts? How do you decide when it’s worth getting upset or fired up over something?

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