We All Stir the Pot in Our Own Way. Is Outrage Culture a Thing?
I wrote an article a while back called “My 5 Favorite Types of Facebook Friends”, where I wrote a list of different types of people who use social media and talked about their funny/annoying posting trends.
People all over my friends-list are posting political statuses, making comments on various social issues, posting either pro-this or anti-that statuses, sharing petitions, getting outraged at Chick-fil-A or Hobby-Lobby, or whatever company did something wrong on that particular occasion. Atheists and Christians are posting statuses about how stupid the other side is. We all stir the pot.
“A pot left unstirred gets all burned and sticky.” — Me
Everyone seems to be constantly pissed off about something. Whether it’s minimum wage, gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage, religion, war, welfare, child-care, Obamacare, the Liberals, the Conservatives, ISIS, our position on Iraq, the Ferguson riots, hating the police, or whatever else is going on.
So I have a habit of making statuses specifically to “stir the pot”. If you still don’t know what I mean, here’s an example. A post I made on October 1st, 2013 said “Is Atheism on the rise in America among young people?”. This status hit 300 comments. I mean, that’s an innocent enough status I thought, but people seriously got pissed off. (Whether I did it on purpose just to rustle people’s jimmies, I don’t really recall. Maybe.)
The point I’m trying to make is that the way people act in the “real world” (queue that Paramore song that’s all over the place) is different from the tumultuous chaos we’re constantly creating when we’re on the internet.
I went to Hobby Lobby today. Yes, OUTSIDE. The customers were just walking in and out of the aisles, minding their own business. The employees were friendly. Everyone kept to themselves. Weird. Where’s all the Christian propaganda, the anti-birth control posters everywhere, the complementary baptism on entrance? Oh, I guess the Hobby Lobby situation only exists online. Weird.
After that, we went to a burger joint down the road. Same thing. Nice people. No political arguments broke out, no anti-abortion posters being handed out. It was entirely too peaceful. Not enough outrage.
A third example: I was at the bus stop a few months ago, when a police officer just walks up on foot and stands next to us. I’m thinking “Oh God, somebody’s going to lose their shit, call him a pig, maybe start a riot. I’ve seen how angry people are at the police on Facebook. People are seriously Outraged.” There’s maybe ten people standing there with me, just looking around, talking amongst themselves, laughing, some listening to music, whatever. The cop just stood there politely and didn’t say anything to anyone. We just all minded our own business. We got on the bus a little while later and everything was fine. Nobody spit on him or complained about how the police force is getting more and more militarized. The officer didn’t target the black guy sitting next to him, didn’t shoot him in the head for no reason. Nothing happened.
Maybe people just let the pseudo-anonymity of the internet get the best of them. We hear a few stories of police-aggression or watch a compilation video someone made of these policemen being abusive towards citizens and we automatically assume it’s like that everywhere. Of course it happens, just not as often as it does on the internet. Outrage.
So, I’ll ask again: do people really care about things as much as their online persona does? I really want to say no. Perhaps we’re just using the internet as a way to express ourselves in a way that wouldn’t be socially acceptable in any other context. Or maybe anonymity online is like alcohol is offline? Maybe it’s fun to stir the pot, to play devil’s advocate, to pretend you actually know about how Government works, that you can actually make a difference.
When a person gets on the internet, they show immediate signs of antisocial and borderline psychotic behavior, complete outrage at anything that doesn’t fit into their preconceived idea of how life should be, and turn into a, and excuse my language, “total fuckwad”, like John Gabriel from Penny Arcade would say.
But is this behavior hurting anyone? It’s probably hurting all of us in one way or another.
The Internet Is a Weird Thing.
Over the past few months, I’ve taken notice of something that occurs on the internet. A person online acts completely different from how they do offline. This may sound like a no-brainer, but have you ever actually thought about it? Do people really care about things as much as their online persona does?
I decided to take a look at my own last ten Facebook statuses to get an idea of MY online persona. How do I act online?
- Shared a link about Aphex Twin announcing a new album.
- A funny picture of a rainbow chicken that my wife saw at Hobby Lobby.
- Shared a news article about the protests in Ferguson.
- Took a quiz called “What type of woman are you?”.
- Posted a stupid status about what I heard listening to the song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” .“And ahseh watabow BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S? shesehd I theek I remembeh thafilm Imiss, yes ah recaw ah thank we bothkanna like-dit, and ahseh, well that’s the onethang we’ve got.”
Starts at around 0:43
- Shared a Thelonious Monk song.
- Political status where I’m “stirring-the-pot”, as my family likes to call it.
- Bitching about a stupid employee at the local Dairy Queen not knowing what a “cone in a cup” is.
- Uploaded a picture from the TV of a white woman with a red bandana on her face putting a fist up with a few black guys in Ferguson.
- Status about me being excited about the new Haruki Murakami book.
I know I’m probably pretty high up there on the how-weird-are-you scale, but I’m sitting here laughing at myself. My online persona has a weird sense of humor. Just a random bunch of crap with some political garbage mixed in.