PEOPLE: Enough Already With The Social Outrage One-Upmanship

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Buzz, Self

The end of the world apparently happens once a week on Facebook.

Uh-oh, my news-feed is blowing up. Something moderately upsetting must've happened, and now EVERYBODY needs to tell the world how everyone else should feel about it through social media.

When a newsworthy event happens, people draw a line in the sand: either you agree with them and you're a paragon of heroism, or you disagree and you're a monster.

It starts with whatever flavor of the week scandal. Then comes the outrage, then the counter-outrage. Then the people who say the outrage-of-the-original thing is invalid because something else much worse is happening somewhere else in the world. Until eventually, it's forgotten entirely.

First, everyone's capacity for outrage constantly astounds me. How does everybody go through life bouncing from one indignation to the next?

One person or small group does something sh*tty and suddenly we need to have a national discussion, because one assh*le means society has a problem.

It seems impossible to operate on a daily basis while perpetually seething.

But here's the thing, I think I know how it works: they were never really outraged in the first place.

Hidden amongst all the hyperbolic condemnations and impotent slacktivism is the truth — it's a narcissistic attention grab. "Hey, a major event happened that everyone's talking about, but please, please, please don't forget about ME."

This is most evident when you see the constant "tragedy one-upsmanship" that surrounds every major scandal.  

You can't be outraged by Cecil the lion when people were killed in Chattanooga. You're not allowed to be upset over Chattanooga when so many more people are dying in the conflict in Syria. And so on.

It's the most disgusting and revealing aspect of the whole vicious cycle. "Don't be upset about just any tragedy; be upset about my tragedy." 

There's no other way to explain it.

How is it possible that so many people can not only have an opinion about EVERYTHING, but hold every single one of their infinite opinions so strongly that they'll go to the mat for them? And defend their validity?

Hint: it's not. Nobody has that much mental energy. 

If you want proof, stop and think for a second about how quickly everyone drops their outrage to move onto the next scandal with a magically renewed vigor. Did we solve Kony back in 2012? What happened to #BringHomeOurGirls? Or Rachel Dolezal? Or the ice-bucket challenge philanthropy efforts?

I give it three more days max until everyone stops caring about Cecil and animal conservation efforts. If they really cared, they would care for more than 5 minutes.

Every single person reading this KNOWS at least a few of these people.

It wouldn't be an issue if people were just responding positively or negatively to these events, but that's not what happens.

They have a screed. They have talking points. They will FIGHT to win you over to their side.

CNN, or whoever, has thousands of people who cover and respond to events happening in the world, yet you can handle that all by yourself?

So, these people take their copy/pasted talking points to their soapbox because butting into a conversation they have no business in makes them feel less small.

They're now a part of the thing that the world is focusing on so, indirectly, the world is focusing on them.

I say sometimes keeping the hell out of it makes you the bigger person.



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