Every day there’s a new online outrage. This probably started eons ago — Internet time scale — but since the onset of the Social Media Age a little more than ten years ago, outrage has become its own reward. Watching it is a guilty pleasure – voyeuristic, one might say – but when one is other-directed, it’s essential to pull one’s self away from it for a specified period of time. For some, that specified period is forever. (As I recall, the late and much-lamented Steven Den Beste opted out of the pre-Social Media blog game after his fame as an essayist had nearly reached legendary status. There was a huge amount of poo-flinging even back then. I know.)
Don’t worry, I’m not considering this, though I have many times in the past. I like Social Media but I also think it’s detrimental for those who never learned long-term, pattern-based thinking. But for those who feed on emotionalism, especially outrage…
Social Media can be compared to a tropical storm which is capable of ramping ramp up to a Category 5 hurricane within seconds. To state the obvious, Cat 5 hurricanes can leave massive physical destruction of lives and property in their wake.
What lies in the wake of Social Media storms? Too often, truth is the casualty. Seemingly insignificant nuances of a story – on which knowledge of the truth often hinges – can get left out in the rush to weigh in … and to condemn an “evil-doer,” especially if that “evil-doer” is the “wrong” color or of the “wrong” political party.
And, sometimes, for the necessity of the maintaining the storm’s power, nuances big and small are ignored or discounted on purpose.
Reason: because destruction is the goal.
I’ve intentionally left out examples here, because as I began to compare this phenomenon to a hurricane, I felt that each specific example would require its own post. I’m sure that someone else has already undertaken this task, but I want to give it the Baldilocks Treatment. Look for Part Two on Tuesday.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.