If society was a font, it would be large, bold, and in ALL CAPS. Everyone is outraged! Just take a morning scroll through Twitter and you’ll no doubt see that someone is upset about something and they want you to know it! Partly fueled by social media and partly fueled by a lack of wisdom and discernment in society, we’re living in an outrage culture where anything that upsets us is worth screaming at the top of our lungs. Just take a peek at the headlines above, all from this past week.
But with so many people losing their mind and emotions on a daily basis, the question must be asked: If we’re outraged about everything, are we really outraged about anything?
Several years ago I co-hosted a podcast with a coworker. When I got nervous and didn’t know what to say, my default response was, “That’s interesting.” After making that my unintentional go-to phrase, one of my bosses pulled me aside and said to me, “David, not everything is interesting. If everything is interesting, then nothing is.”
That same principle seems to ring true about the outrage in our culture. If everything is outrageous to us, then maybe nothing is actually outrageous to us. If we’re outraged about everything, then maybe we’re just angry and bitter people who are masking our personal issues with faux anger.
Thinking about this issue reminded me of something I heard from comedian Mike Birbiglia when discussing changes in rap and hip hop:
“[Rap]’s gotten so arbitrarily aggressive. Rappers now will be like ‘It’s 2005, ****’ and I’m like, ‘You’re mad about the date? You gotta pick your battles, man. I mean, you get mad about that, no one’s gonna believe you when you’re mad about real stuff.’ Like, ‘You crashed into my car, ****!’ Yeah, but you’re mad that it’s 2005.”
But to take things a step further, not only are we outraged about everything, but we expect others to be just as outraged as we are. We get upset when people don’t hate the same things we hate. If others don’t share in our disdain, name calling, and the dehumanization of others, they, too, become our enemy.
Sure, some things should make us angry. The sex trafficking of children should rattle us to our core. Our innate desire for justice should cause us to be upset when we see major injustices occurring in the world. We should be bothered by racism. But let’s save the rage for those things just mentioned, and not blow our lid when Starbucks changes its Christmas cups, a referee makes a bad call, or a celebrity shows up at a political rally for someone we don’t like.
Here’s a simple truth our society needs to realize: You can be passionate without being outraged.
If our outrage is always at an 11 on a scale of 1-10, we’ve essentially elevated everything to that same level of importance. If you get just as upset over the views of Sean Hannity or the ladies on The View as you do the selling of children into the sex trade, it might be time to reevaluate your priorities and check your blood pressure.
Not everything in our world is worthy of outrage. If we’re outraged about everything, then perhaps we’re actually not outraged about anything at all.