Statistics have proven that 100% of the people in the United States are absolutely enraged about something at this exact very moment, as well as all of the moments surrounding it . Just taking a quick look at Facebook, Twitter, any of the news channels, or whatever the hell else you choose to look at which is sourced by popular opinion and funded by entertainment dollars and you’ll continually see one trend over and over again.
People are pissed.
All the time.
And I’m, quite honestly, finding myself a little pissed about it. I mean, seriously, it seems that at this point in our world’s history that there isn’t a single thing that occurs that could be offensive that we don’t somehow manage to take as the most offensive thing to have ever occurred ever. There’s no possibility that a misunderstanding could have occurred, or a simple slip up, or just that the person has different values than you. No, we’re just offended to the core. And we’re sure as hell vocal about it.
What I’m finding even more interesting is that the vocality of our rage seems to now finally exist outside of just occurring from immediately behind a keyboard. We seek out like-minded individuals through shouting and getting red-faced and hoping that someone in the room begins shouting and getting red-faced about the same things. And if they just so happen to be shouting from the other side of the argument, well, all the better, because they MUST be convinced to change.
When I was a young man, I learned early that there were two topics that weren’t allowed in polite conversation. I’m pretty sure we all know what those two topics are. However, today, not only are those topics no longer taboo (although, the definition of polite conversation obviously has changed as well), but would have to include a whole host of other topics which could really boil down to OPINION.
You see…although all of these things we get all rageful about may be founded in fact, the actual source of the rage itself is opinion. Heck, most of it is that we are all of the opinion that everyone should agree with us about everything, but the specific issues at hand usually fall to opinion as well.
Take, for instance, a very recent(yesterday) rage-fit that the world went into when it was found that the noted feminist-musician Ani DiFranco would be holding a retreat at a plantation. It’s hard to imagine that the intelligent woman was oblivious to the fact that slaves were, at one point, in captivity at that exact location. Many people took this to mean that she was intentionally choosing a place like this in order to go against everything she’s ever stood for previously and completely enrage an entire portion of her fan base. I’m not saying there’s not reason to take offense. I’m not black, I’m not a woman, I’m not in any way the person who should be taking offense here, I have no reason to know what those people should be taking offense at. There’s probably very good reasons to have issues with holding such an event at a plantation.
That being said, ignoring the fact that there are very few places one could hold an event in the South (not to mention the rest of the world) in which there wasn’t at one point slavery occurring on that very spot, I think it’s quite safe to assume that the choice of location wasn’t done to intend offense. “In polite conversation” one might merely state that the location is one that does not feel quite right for the event in question and “politely” request that the artist consider changing venues to avoid possible offense. One might also consider asking the artist if there are any topical reasons for choosing such a location that may be applicable before deciding that it just shows more “white feminist cluelessness” or that she is obviously “racist” or the more offensive terms that were slung her way.
Is it completely impossible to just have a dialogue about such things, or must we immediately burst into these rage-fits because someone has done something we don’t agree with? Isn’t that exactly the issue at hand? Sure, no one has committed any hate crimes against Ani because of this, but I can’t help but find that the thought process behind this immediate rage is the same. She did something I disagree with, attack!
I’m going to jump on the other boat (and I’m sure to hear about it) and give the same credit to Phil Robertson. Sure, he said some completely uninformed things (and I’m staying away from the whole teenaged girl conversation right now, mostly because I haven’t even begun to look into it. We’ll stick to the initial outrage) about homosexuality, things that are totally understandable for a person to get offended by, just like it’s understandable that someone might get offended about Ani’s choice of venue. But, take away the pieces of his statements that were him merely talking about his faith (which, of course, he is allowed, as we all are), and we’re dealing with only a handful of comments regarding the topic at hand. Because of the fact that people disagreed with him, they immediately took everything he said in the worst possible light (which is quite probably the accurate way to take them). But this wasn’t a man who was outright saying hateful statements like “I hate queers!”. This was a man who was, in many ways, just stating that he didn’t understand it. I would think that this man, out of any, would do better from some “polite conversation” regarding the matter instead of an immediate attack. Of course, more has occurred since the initial outrage period and I honestly couldn’t care less about the whole thing, so perhaps he’s moved it all past that point.
I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons to be pissed. Perhaps both of these media personalities truly wanted to create outrage and polarize the world against them. It’s done amazing things for so many others in the world today in terms of fame and money. I am, however, stating that our initial reaction of outrage needs to stop. Perhaps stop by Snopes.com first and see if what you’re raging about isn’t a lie before you jump in on the conversation. Perhaps read through the actual item in question before hitting up the websites and telling the world of your newfound hatred for [insert name here]. Maybe we can give people some form of benefit of doubt before we instantly jump on the hate bandwagon and attack their name (or sing their praises for that matter).
The internet is an amazing propaganda machine and right now I believe each and every one of us falls victim to it on way too many occasions.
And the real issue I have here is that there are honestly so many true reasons to be pissed that we’re completely forgetting about as we rage about musicians who make venue flubs or reality tv show stars who say something stupid (again). Hell, you don’t have to look very hard at all. Would you like a few? Howabout getting pissed that the dairy industry actually fought to be able to add sugar to milk without needing to add it to the label just so they could up their sales? Okay, that’s a little small, I know, maybe we could get pissed about these things that pop up in the news all too often that are absolutely atrocious, like the woman in Arizona who tried murdering her family on Christmas Day? I’m fairly certain we can safely say that we won’t be misunderstanding her intentions with our immediate response on that. Of course…she’s still innocent until proven guilty, so maybe even that’s taking it too far? You know what, that’s still too small…let’s get pissed about the rise in anti-gay hate crimes world-wide, the ongoing slave markets domestic and abroad, the continual sale of young women that happens within our very borders. Sure, we can’t put a name and a face to those people and therefore can’t create amazing memes to share on facebook about it all.
But we could.
We rage and rage and rage. But does it do anything? Did we teach Ani DiFranco a worthwhile lesson that she totally needed? Will Phil Robertson come out of the whole debacle feeling any differently about the homosexual community? All we’ve done is increase awareness of these people’s existence, which really only results in them becoming more famous and more rich.
But what if we were able to actually increase awareness of the real issues our world is facing. Those who actually are doing things that are incredibly offensive and doing them intentionally? What if we stopped caring about the idiots on our tvs for a second and cared about those people hiding in the dark corners that actually DO intend to do us harm? Heck, the few times these types of things have actually hit the social medias, groups like Anonymous have stepped forward and caused amazing things to happen, saving lives, making lives better, and ultimately attacking those who truly deserve it, instead of those who will ultimately profit off it.
I want to end this by saying that I’m not claiming a lack of fault here. I used the number of 100% above because I definitely have to include myself. When I find out that people are pissed at someone, I find myself ready to be pissed. I may not be one to immediately jump on hate bandwagons (although I have definitely done that on more than one occasion), but I find myself spending way more time than should even be necessary just trying to personally clear the name of someone whom really shouldn’t even be getting that attention anyways.
This is why I’ve found myself at odds with social media. I’ve stayed around for so long, first so my parents could see pictures of my kids, then because people told me it would help me to sell books. There are other ways for my parents to see my kids, and A. I don’t believe facebook/twitter/whatever has helped me sell a single book and B. I’m really not interested in being a salesman. Look for tomorrow’s installment, Fat Mogul vs. Social Media, in which I outline my plans for the future of my online presence as well as how you’ll be able to continue to keep up to date on what I’m up to.
I can’t help but envision how much extra time I’ll have from not constantly checking my feeds to see if there is anything interesting on there…
Have fun out there (and chill out a little, will ya?)