Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Swearing Off Outrage Journalism

Noah Millman:
I can remember when outrage fueled me, rather than leaving me enervated. In the wake of the attacks of 9-11, every terrifying piece of news felt like it was essential. When I was a more conventional right-winger, every outrage by the “other side” confirmed me in my convictions, and every time the “other side” got outraged it confirmed to me that their perceptions were deeply biased, their priorities deeply confused. But it’s not like that outrage fueled any, you know, action, much less any understanding. All it fueled was – a feeling.

Outrage is a kind of drug, one that gives the illusion of involvement, of caring, when really derives its power from an emotional and informational distance that the stories themselves then strive to deepen, laying the groundwork for the next piece of outrage porn to do its work. And thus proceeds an addictive cycle. . . .

Outrage, like cheap vodka, which once seemed to reduce my inhibitions and make me feel strong and confident, now makes me feel a bit ill, and puts me to sleep.
I agree completely: grievance is a dangerous drug, to be used with great caution, not poured over our daily bread like antibiotics in chicken fed.

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