The culture of perpetual outrage is set to kill (we are way past set to stun)

The culture of perpetual outrage is set to kill (we are way past set to stun)

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As a comment to one of the stories says, “People will see what they want to see”.

So many people today want to be outraged that they are continuously on the prowl for opportunities to be outraged. And once they have spotted an opportunity for outrage, they share it on social media! The ease with which we can share our outrage becomes a form of propaganda – spreading myths and half truths and creating suspicion where none is warranted.

Even the most innocent or kind actions are viewed by someone as something other than what was intended, as a symbol representing something else that only the perpetually outraged sees.

All of us now walk on egg shells for fear that our most innocent of comments or actions will be interpreted by someone else as something that our action is not.

  • I was once jogging, with my dog, past an elementary school. I was on a public roadway. A schoolyard monitor told me I should not jog past the elementary school on the public road “Because we can never be sure these days“.
  • As a guy, can I go to the zoo by myself or will someone suspect that an older male by himself at the zoo must be a child molester?
  • If I offer my seat on a train to an older person – especially a woman – does that make me a chivalrous sexist lout?
  • If I am friendly and smile at someone, does that mean I am obviously a chivalrous sexist lout?
  • If I hold open or hold a door for anyone other than a white male – does that make me a suspicious character exerting white male patriarchal privilege? (Apparently)
  • Recently, I noticed a blind woman standing near me, in a large, confusing crowd of people. I asked if she needed assistance (no, she was waiting for friends to come to her). Before I asked, I worried my asking might be interpreted as a sign of disrespect – since by asking, I was implying she could not manage on her own, or something, right?
  • If I volunteer at a public school, does that make me a suspicious character who is obviously trying to hang out with young girls and women? (I have been an engineering mentor for high school robotics teams for 9 years – each year I need to have a background check run and undergo two hours of training on harassment – just to be a high skilled engineering volunteer “Because we can never be sure these days”.)
  • Yesterday, a Twitter tweet said all guys are to blame for the actions of some guys regarding sex harassment by people in power. The tweet further said that specifically, I, as a guy, am responsible for their actions.

See how confusing this gets?

Thanks to the culture of perpetual outrage none of us can interact with others for fear of being accused of misconduct. We can not be friendly and helpful to others without being looked at with suspicion. We must be cautious about offering to volunteer to help others. We cannot engage in perfectly ordinary activities (like walking down a street) without being viewed with suspicion. Wearing the wrong color stocking cap can get us trouble; putting the wrong color shoelaces in our shoes can get us accused of racism.

In a world of perpetual outrage, where the outrage turns all activities into something they are not, all of us are guilty, no matter how hard we try to be a nice and helpful person.

This is the world of social media’s culture of perpetual outrage. Social media is destroying our lives.

Related: How can we keep track of all the interpretations of common symbols? Before I wrote this, I did not know that the “Ok” symbol, drinking milk, or wearing black boots with white or red shoe laces are signs of racism. How can we know how others will interpret what seem like innocent actions?


Drinking milk is a sign of racism?

The Swedish government issued a report on racism and white power movements in Sweden. A machine translation of their document (original in  Swedish) yielded this from page 33 of the translation:

The paper also notes that placing quotes around certain words, such as “refugee” or “immigrant” imply special meaning, such as questioning whether someone is actually a refugee or immigrant, and that this too is a sign of racism and bigotry.

Swedish paper source: Kaati, L. (ed.). (2017, Nov). Det vita hatet: radikal nationalism i digitala miljöer  (or English) The white hate: radical nationalism in digital
environments. Published by the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

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