Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Why we're addicted to outrage" from "The Week"

Here. I can't say that I agree with the reason given, but the article is a good general overview of the topic of the sort of instant outrage that's out there, and the linked article Outrage Porn: How the Need for Perpetual Indignation Manufactures Phony Offense, is good as well, if less philosophical and somewhat shrill itself. 

Instant outrage, I would argue, dulls critical thinking by encouraging snap judgements taken without actually looking at what's being talked about. You just point someone to something and say go. A culture of constant accusation also tends to intimidate people into not saying anything, in that if they buckle into the concept, or buy into it, they're afraid that they might incidentally call down the wrath of someone.

I remember at Evergreen there was a twice weekly seminar in a large, integrated, class on politics, where there were two self appointed guardians of correctness, who no matter what was being discussed would first of all lay into anyone who they perceived was making a comment that might have had some implication that might have slighted in some way some group....and how once when they were both absent one of the other participants remarked at the end of the discussion how we got so much more productively done without them there.

Free discussion needs the potential for the participants to say something that might either be misunderstood easily or go against the grain, otherwise stagnation happens. In Japanese corporate culture, where obedience and deference to authority is highly entrenched, when they have brain storming sessions between members that are more senior and less senior they preface it with everyone having a drink of sake. That way they can criticize the ideas of a senior person, breaking the tradition of always being deferent and speaking correctly, because they're theoretically 'drunk' or intoxicated.

Anyways, both outrage porn and easy and often stupid offense miss the forest for the trees.

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