The Age of Outrage: Incensed Sensibilities
September 14, 2011 Leave a comment
In terms of human nature I do not know that our world is much different from all the worlds of centuries past. Human nature appears to be a constant. But I do see that today because of the enormous reach of instant electronic media we are at any given moment enjoined to take offense at anything perceived to be an attack on the rosy perception we have of ourselves and our world. We will even take offense for others whose shoes we are not wearing. The general response to any perceived threat to the safety net, our egos, is often to tweet ourselves and others with word-packets of rage. Misery loves communication. Just ask Obama.
Obama has an #attackwatch Twitter website (attackwatch.com) set up by his campaign people to gather reports about attacks on Obama’s record. The site invites you to snitch on your neighbor in order to intercept smears to Obama’s mirrors.
Today, for the most part, narcissism is the ‘I-cad’ battery behind the hardware and software of every electronic gadget purchased for personal communication. And once powered up, every gadget is attuned to the mirror on the wall affixing our image clearly in cyberspace. The “human” part of the gadget’s human machine interface (HMI) is easily prone to having its ego front and center where it will stand ready and waiting for an offense, for its sensibilities to be stirred to anger. It may take only one indirect affront to reach the tipping point. When that happens, outrage will then be projected onto everyone around us causing human interface disconnects go viral.
As the word “outrage” suggests, we do not keep our offended selves to ourselves. We blast the horn loudly. We rise up on our hind legs and make a fierce growling sound in direction of the perceived offender. We lash out. We strike. We mock and jeer. We demonstrate, we march and we riot. We “flash” our rancor into vigilantism and mob action. We jump the shark with self-righteous responses, pummeling others with our heavy-handed diatribes. Cooler heads do not prevail. Instead, hot heads storm the gates of decency and respect. Our egos deem that the “other” has not been fair or there has not been adequate homage to our feelings. We text ourselves and to others ‘We deserve better”.
So, in this Age of Outrage with it electronically vaunted egos and its absence of meekness and personal contentment, with all of its rants and its plethora of pretense and aborted conversations and with the death of civility lying everywhere around you you end up getting exactly what you deserve – more of yourself.
“All of civility depends on being able to contain the rage of individuals.”
Joshua Lederberg, American Molecular Biologist
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Jesus
“By contrast, Reagan and both Bushes dealt with attacks either with good humor in the former case or by ignoring them in the latter. One criticism of President George W. Bush is that he ignored attacks a little too much, allowing some of the accusations to take hold without a response. “