Friday, March 19, 2010

The politics of "outrage"

I can’t remember the last time I went to yahoo, msn or some news site and did not see some story in which a person or group was expressing “outrage” over the thoughts, comments, actions or deeds of another person or group. “______ outraged by _____ who _____.” “Group expresses outrage over _____ comments.” Just troll the online news sites and you’ll see this is true.

It’s not really my place to challenge someone else’s emotions or feelings on an issue. Sometimes how you feel about something can’t be helped. I do notice, though, that this “outrage” is very often over general comments made by one person or group, usually something perceived as offensive. Maybe I’m not very sensitive but I’m amazed at how often the “outrageous” comment or thought seems rather benign or trivial. Think of the “outrage” by “immigrants’ rights groups” over the “illegal alien” Halloween costume last fall. Consider the “outrage” expressed by strangers over Tiger Woods’ numerous infidelities.

Whether right or wrong, it seems that people in this day and age – and this seems global – enjoy being angry. It’s as if they relish declaring “outrage” in public. I’m not sure what people would do if they couldn’t be angry. I’d like to think their lives would be better if they let things roll off their backs more easily.

Am I outraged by their outrage? No. But I’m definitely a little amused and slightly confused by it most of the time.

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