Maintaining the outrage in the right direction


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 More comments go unpublished than published in the groups I am a part of, in case what I say is misinterpreted.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?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT

20 thoughts on “Maintaining the outrage in the right direction

  1. Nicole @ The Builder's Wife says:

    Outrage, pain and anger seem to be everywhere at the moment. I am a fan of just being nice, not saying something if I can’t be nice. That said, I wont allow myself to be walked over, usually I will just walk away in those situations rather than let the outrage and hurt filter into my relationships with others.
    Nicole @ The Builder’s Wife recently posted…5 Tips To Better Mental HealthMy Profile

  2. Lydia C. Lee says:

    Yes there are bigger things on the internet but I also think we shouldn’t stand by when the wrong thing is done because it’s not that big a deal. It was wrong, and by her own admission, she chose to breach a confidence and share it with the world. She chose through ignorance perhaps, or intentionally for clicks, to humiliate her guest with insensitivity. That should rightly be called out so we, the greater public, know it is not okay to do ourselves. When that kid did the footy player for bookweek with black face, and the footy player didn’t personally care because he know it was because the kid loved him, when he responded, he said ‘While I personally didn’t take offence, I’ve had the history of black face explained to me and I can see it is never okay’. I thought that was a brilliant response. As with this – just because we personally don’t care that much about it, we need to be aware of the implications. It’s not okay for journalists to breach confidence (some go to jail because they refuse to) and we need to think a little more carefully about our words. I could say “Like the great Shakespeare’s Shylock, MF is a successful Jew in business” or I could say “Like Jewish born Heddy Lamarr, MF is not content to rely on her good looks but also intent to use her intelligence to make a difference”. Both are meant as compliments, but one is actually insulting and carrying derogatory implications, whether the speaker meant it that way or not. Doesn’t the speaker of the first need to be informed that perhaps the Shakespeare character is an antiquated prejudicial caricature that is damaging and insulting and not a compliment? So yes there are bigger things to worry about but isn’t educating people of their micro and macro aggressions also important? Isn’t RG’s book Hunger all about trying to get the rest of us to show some sensitivity and understanding? We can fix the little world issues easily, it’s the big world issues that take time. Doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do both.
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Scent of a WomanMy Profile

    • Amy @ HandbagMafia says:

      I don’t need to write a comment as Lydia summed up all I’d want to say on it.
      We can choose what we debate or call out, but feelings are facts and though other things might be more important in the grand scheme of things- we can care about more than one thing. Very thought provoking post Robyna.
      Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…Panty Liners + Powdered Glue = A Bad IdeaMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I can see your point, and I was a little hesitant to hit publish on this one because of exactly what you and Amy have said. However, I notice a sad trend where public women call out other public women. The whole thing becomes a lot bigger than it would in another situation. What Mia did was wrong. Intentional or not (and perhaps I am a cynic, but I feel like most of what Mia does is linked to a purpose). In that regard, I am glad she was called out. Was it in proportion? No, I don’t think so. And as much as we can care about more than one thing, I know I have a limit to my reserves of attention, time and emotion. If I spend it in one place, I won’t spend it in another.

    • Robyna says:

      I agree – I wish that a had a bottomless well of emotional resources but I just don’t. I have to think carefully about where to place my time, my heart and my attention.

    • Robyna says:

      Click bait – ugggh. Even when we call out click bait, we are calling attention to it which is what the originator wanted.

  3. hugzilla says:

    This is a topic I have been toying with for a while and I agree with every word. The constant cycle of online outrage is truly exhausting. I don’t know what the answer is and I am certain that it is not about to stop any time soon. Another reason to be careful when we are curating our feeds.

  4. Paula, The Geeky Shopaholic says:

    I hadn’t heard anything about the incident that sparked this post but I do agree that people are too easily offended. It’s like they’re looking for something to be outraged about. And I know there is plenty of things to be outraged about like the issues you mentioned. And when people display that kind of ignorant/racist attitude on social media I just unfollow them. I find most are looking for a fight and I refuse to engage them. They don’t want to change and they see nothing wrong with how they are acting so why should I waste my time? Like Sammie said, I have to pick my battles.

    • Robyna says:

      Picking my battles is where I am at. I don’t have the energy to argue with people who are set on a way of thinking I simply don’t understand.

  5. Bel says:

    I do believe whole-heartedly in the ‘unfollow’ button. I do also believe in supporting those who have been wronged….I don’t necessarily do it on socials thought, rather give that person my unconditional support instead of tearing another person down who may have inflicted hurt. I think you have worded your post very well and it is definitely food for thought.
    Bel recently posted…Listening to your bodyMy Profile

  6. Kylie Purtell says:

    I got so exhausted by all the internet outrage last year that I made a decision to stay away from it as much as I can (which is hard considering Facebook should probably be called Ragebook!), not because I don’t care about the issues or think there is value in discussing these things, but because for my own mental health I had to tune out as much of it as I could. I find the older I get the more mellow I get and I don’t want to be jaded by the world. Great post, Robyna, definitely very thought-provoking!
    Kylie Purtell recently posted…Library Adventures {Our Favourite Books | June 2017} | ReadingMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      That’s the balance for me too – it’s not that I can’t see that it’s important but rather that it’s just too much.

  7. Collette says:

    I agree whole-heartedly. I’ve had friendly comments completely misinterpreted and it’s awful. So I’ve taken an approach similar to you – I don’t give a lot of myself on social media unless it’s something really positive. I tend not to engage with something if I’m getting a negative vibe, self-preservation I think!

Comments are closed.