Two weeks ago we discussed how toxic fandoms can become, especially in online discourse. And in writing that blog, I realized there was a much bigger issue at play that I also wanted to address: Why is everyone so angry?
I feel like I’ve gotten trapped inadvertently in a global outrage cycle. For a while, I thought, “Oh this is just the product of immature tweens with access to the internet and too much free time.” Then in 2016, I thought, “Oh, well adults seem to be doing it too, but that’s just because of the U.S. election.” But by 2017, I’ve realized that an Outrage Virus seems to have infected most anyone who uses the internet. Because it’s not just about differing political views or recreational trolling anymore.
Sometimes it feels like the whole world has gone mad.
For example, have you ever watched a funny video about a baby or a pet doing something silly? Invariably, if you scroll down to the comments on a video like that, there’s at least one person irritated at the baby’s parenting or the ethics of filming your pet doing said silly thing. And that feeds into other people who were just there for a laugh seeing that outrage and becoming angry themselves (because why can’t people just watch the video and enjoy it?)
And the cycle begins.
I am both fascinated and horrified by this cycle. It’s like how you can’t look away from a terrible car wreck. You’re disgusted by the sight, but you also think you can figure out how it got to this point if you look at it long enough and you also want to know what happens next.
And cue my addiction to online comments.
Donald Trump seems to be the current king of the Online Outrage Tribe, but he certainly didn’t start it. Who did? Have we always been this angry and just didn’t have an outlet to vent? Was it an exponential but unsuspected takeover as we became more disillusioned with the world because of the rapid expansion of technology?
Is there a cure!?
I don’t have answers for you, unfortunately. But I think it’s important to recognize a problem/trend so that you can be more aware of how it’s affecting your everyday life. And therefore, take actions to try to counteract it. I do so by trying to make more videos with an optimistic take on life. A positive light on the horizon of a super dark sea. But I don’t think you have to be making videos to be an influence. Whether you’re tweeting or Facebooking or blogging or texting or discussing something in person, trying to take a step back from that viral outrage and look at the bigger picture is so important. It helps to shake others out of their anger trance too. It’s actually a lot easier to be a literal light in the darkness of these dangerous and angry times than one might expect. You simply just have to make an effort to not get swept up in the story sea of outrage!