Harnessing the Outrage Machine

Posted on September 19, 2015 by Richard Goulter
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South Park’s S19E1 episode, introducing the ‘PC Principal’, seemed to have upset some people. (e.g. this tweet, this tweet.
– For what it’s worth, the episode doesn’t say ‘political correctness is bad’, nor ‘social justice is bad’, and it certainly isn’t pandering to say these things are great. - The episode clearly attacks the disproportionate, abusive, bullying endorsed by the “social justice bullies” (as aristoNYC’s piece termed it).
The term “Social Justice Warrior” is itself.. fun, since many who endorse its characteristics don’t see it as pejorative: ‘Warrior for Social Justice? How could that be a bad thing?’. (Even aristoNYC’s piece, a pretty good article criticising SJWs, likes the term. Thus, “SJ Bullies”).
– South Parks’ contribution to the lexicon here is ‘great’: “You PC bro?”, “It’s not BRUCE fucking Jenner, it’s Caitlyn and she’s a fucking stunning woman!”, “WOO WOO WOO! You hear that!? That’s the sound of 2015 pulling you over people!” are all sure to be copy-pasted over as height-of-wit when people see someone being a bully. (I do like that last one, it captures the tone of ‘call out’ amazingly well).

Prominent YouTube account GameTheory recently released this video, pointing out that when the media calls gamers “12 year old losers”, it garners a reaction of outrage. (e.g. Jimmy Kimmell managed to get 3x videos in a row, with very little creativity, each getting more views than his channel usually gets, just calling gamers “12 year old losers”).
The video also features the cliche quote of “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win” or so. YMMV.
– But the interesting part of the video was from ~10:30ff, when it was pointed out media sensationalism over ‘shark attacks’ were able to create widespread fear of sharks. Such a fear is irrational and unfounded. Another example it pointed out was the media as the chief culprit of the downfall-into-obscurity of some presidential candidate. – I’m not sure how accurate these examples are of how powerful the media can be, but “media’s lens on insignificant issues has an impact on public perception” is somewhat disconcerting.

Surely there’s room for some level of introspection, to be able to say “hey, I’m outraged by this.” then “does it matter?”, and calm down or so?

I’m not quite talking about “not giving a fuck”.
– Certainly “let’s ignore all negative feedback, because there’s NOTHING I can do about it” sounds like a terrible idea. (It’s not what the author means, but it’s a conclusion which could be read from it all the same).

– For what it’s worth, I also think “calming down” by way of cat pictures & other cute things in between bouts of outrage seems a technique to make ‘online bezerkers’: if the outrage is never discussed-through, doesn’t that make it easier to increase tensions?

It seems to me some of the common ways to get an affiliate (of whatever) enraged at a speaker/article:

  1. Unflattering misrepresentation
  2. Unflattering accurate representation
  3. Unflattering reality (for the affiliate)

I’m just pulling this out of my ass, so. (Another good way to get an affiliate aroused is some anecdote/story which supports their view of reality: “something bad happened, but if people like me were in charge, it wouldn’t have happened”).
– ‘Being outraged’ is not a particularly sensible response to any of these things. But I suppose if they ‘hurt’ you, you gotta ‘hurt’ them back, right?

– Since being abstract is awful, let me try the above in the context of the South Park episode: it’s upsetting to fans of Social Justice that the ‘PC Bros’ are the ‘bad guys’ (unflatting misrepresentation of ‘social justice’), but also hits close-to-home the vicious nature of SJ bullying online (unflattering accurate representation). – I’ve also seen comments along the lines of how ‘transphobic’ the episode was; perhaps the bullies find it upsetting that not everyone things Jenner is a hero?

Issues which polarise are polarising further than they have before, it seems to me.

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