Is it just me or is there a simmering layer of offence wherever you turn? The internet and the socials in particular seem to breed it.
There are small offences layered on smaller offences layered on innocuous intention. Offence at someone being offended. Then there are those people that seem to take inordinate joy in brewing offence. I imagine them as witches around a cauldron, gleefully stirring the pot and enjoying provocation.
Personally, I can’t stand the thought of deliberate hurt. I do everything I can not to cause offence, probably to an extent that I inadvertently cause it with my non-commitment to a side. When I publish something that echoes my own narrow experience, I worry that it is limiting and alienating. More comments go unpublished than published in the groups I am a part of, in case what I say is misinterpreted. I side-step and I tip-toe. My socials are vanilla with shades of beige. You won’t find anything in smutty blue or red rage. You can also be assured my stats are pretty bland and avoiding click-bait means less clicks. And I am OKAY with that. I prefer that than adding to the bubbling soup of manufactured offence.
Despite my own brand of bland, I don’t get offended (at all) when I encounter the colourful on friends’ pages and groups. I’ll laugh at smutty jokes just as hard as the next person, even if I don’t tell them. I don’t stand for racism, sexism and general arse-hattery. There is a very useful “unfollow” button to deal with those kind of posts. I don’t go in to wage war. I’m one hundred percent confident that my words are not going to convince a difference of opinion.
We whip ourselves up into a frenzy to do just that. I don’t follow Mia Freedman, so I only saw the edges of the fall-out with her recent interview with Roxane Gay. Everyone wanted a say, and everyone wanted a say on everyone else’s say. Considering the bigger issues of the world we live in, I found it disproportionate. (Big breath there, as I know that might cause offence).
Feelings need to be given priority over the story. I don’t think it’s ever okay to inflict hurt knowingly in order to light an outrage bomb. A bomb that will direct clicks and attention in a certain direction, positive and negative. I think that’s what happened here. Mia Freedman is not my cup of tea, but I know she’s incredibly savvy. We also all know what it is to be kind and what it is not to be kind. To debate it so vehemently is outrage theft. While we are busy maintaining the rage in lengthy Facebook comments about these kinds of things, we end up not turning attention to other issues.
There are certain posts and things that will provoke my outrage. The way refugees are treated. Children maimed by war. Racist, ableist and sexist attitudes being promoted as desirable “values”. These posts won’t necessarily have the collective keyboard warriors pecking at their keys. But they do get me reaching for my wallet and supporting the causes that go into real battle. These are the posts that make me think, particularly when it’s a viewpoint I hadn’t considered before. Those are the things to share and discuss.
These are things that I will reserve my time and my outrage for.
What’s your take on the outrage on the internet?