It’s been over two weeks since my last post and I suppose I should be blogging about something. The problem is just about every topic I can think of is in some way political, and that’s been the case for a long time. Even something that’s strictly science related, face masks, ends up political. Please, it’s just a face mask, for crying out loud, and here are some medical links on it: Mayo Clinic; Cornell University; CDC; WHO. Both political factions need to just cool it.
That’s true about a lot of things. In this era, it’s possible to be outraged by every single minute of the day. I don’t care what your politics are, it’s easy to find something designed to get your dander up. That’s because outrage sells. It gets attention. I don’t know if it’s some sort of perverse psychological reinforcement or warped stimulus – pleasure thing going on, but it’s there, and people run to it again and again. And if someone can’t find something to be outraged about, they go and make something. It’s gotten downright pathetic.
Those who know me are probably rolling on the floor laughing, as I have quite a chip on my shoulder. If perpetual outrage were a religion, I’d be a deacon. Even so, it’s reached the point where it’s even gotten to me.
Check out your favorite news source. I don’t care what it is. See how the topics are designed to grab your attention. It’s all the same: hear this, read this, click this, all to grab your attention by using outrage. Then what you see or hear is often slanted to fuel your outrage. Headlines: the original click bait.
Blog posts, too, because it’s easy to write about what gets under your collar, and perhaps because many learn or instinctively know what news outlets have known since Johans Carolus printed the first newspaper: Outrage gets readers. Some call it sensationalism, and that’s true enough, but you can’t have sensationalism without a little touch of outrage.
Whatever the source, we can constantly live in a state of outrage. Here is a dirty little secret: When you’re outraged, you don’t think as clearly and are more easily manipulated. That’s why political action groups try to get you outraged before asking for money. That’s why propaganda frequently makes use of outrage. If you’re not careful, you can let outrage lead you down whatever path someone wants.
I’m tired of it, the perpetual outrage. Only a fool would thing nothing is worth feeling outrage over, but that doesn’t mean everything is outrage worthy. And if someone writing news stories deliberately goes for the outrage, pretty soon complete truth goes out the window. Who, what, when, why, and how are replaced by “How does that make you feel?” and reporting becomes even more shallow. I won’t insult your intelligence by claiming there was a golden age of unbiased journalism, because history says it never existed. Yet when you concentrate on facts and let people decide for themselves whether to be outraged or not, you end up with more solid reporting than going for the outrage.
Unvarnished facts doesn’t seem to sell as much as outrage, not when people are used to getting their outrage fix, or when they’re polarized to the point that every single thing must conform to a given narrative (and you see that in conservative circles just as much as liberal ones ). I don’t know if we’ll ever see purely factual reporting, especially now, what with everyone becoming outrage addicts. But the only way we can exercise sound judgment is if we have unspun facts.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like that’ll happen anytime soon.