Being outraged is easy.
There are 4 responses that I see that are pervasive in social media, media, and in conversations.
- I’m outraged about ________
- I’m outraged that _______ is outraged about __________.
- I don’t care because it doesn’t affect me (or I can’t do anything about it).
- I see something wrong/unjust/off and I’m going to do the work to make a difference.
Now my sampling size is limited but I’m seeing a lot of the first two responses, very little of third because why should I…they usually don’t care to say anything, and a growing number of the last response.
I’m starting to believe that there may be a progression.
Maybe the being outraged is the initial (immature) response. Whether it is guns, gays, governments, or _________, the awareness that something is ___________ usually sparks an emotion.
However, after that new emotion shine wears off, we “mature” and frown upon, mock, or make clever memes about those that are currently outraged. We view ourselves as more stoic or mature, but really we are just on a cynical path.
If we do this long enough, we eventually move to the “I don’t give a _____ because it doesn’t affect me”. Now we may never say it this way, but you can see it in our attitudes, emotions, calendars, and bank statements. We know _________ isn’t right but “who cares”.
The risky thing is to remain in this cycle of outrage and cynicism.
Media (both social and network) are really good at making us feel both afraid and helpless (which sparks the outrage and cynicism). So we naturally seek out a person of power, whether they are a preacher, politician, or a boss, and hope they will bring the change that subdues the fear. They usually let us down. Then we become more outraged or cynical and the cycle deepens.
But then there are the others…
They battle the outrage and cynicism as well. They get frustrated. They get tired. However, they go down a different path. They realize that they can do something and they change their actions. They don’t blame others and wait for permission. They see things “out of whack” and they start to model what they see as right. They realize that anger and apathy won’t create a better place for their kids, grandkids, and friends. They understand that the best critique of the bad is the practice of the good. They become difference makers on the small scale, large scale, and sometimes the scope is so small that they are just beginning to make a difference in themselves. They also spend less and less time trying to convince others to think like them and use that energy to be an example.
- If they are outraged about _________ company, they just stop buying what that company is selling.
- If they are outraged about _________ industry, they consume less.
- If they are outraged about ignorance, they become teachers.
- If they are outraged about abortion, they mentor at-risk teens and adopt/foster unwanted children.
- If they are outraged about the lack of God in ________, they privately pray in those places and act as “salt/light” there.
- And on and on and on….
They actually care about what others just yell about. I want to be like them.
The Truth is “being outraged” can be used as cortisol, where it cripples you, stresses you, and makes you think less of others. OR “Being outraged” can be used as adrenaline, where it motivates, focuses you, and gives you strength to combat the unjust and evil things in this world. (I like this analogy, because too much cortisol or adrenaline destroys you just like being outraged all the time)
No one can stop you from being outraged, but also, no one can stop you from actually caring enough to alleviate some of that which outrages you.
PS. I write this to myself because my only fear in life is becoming an old grumpy white man who complains about the world he created whether by action or inaction.
PPSS. I’m lying…..I’m also still afraid of wasps.