If your facebook, twitter, or other preferred social media platform has been anything like mine for the last few weeks, then you have been bombarded with videos, memes, and statuses that have been difficult for you to scroll past without reacting to. This past weekend included the inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday, the Women’s Protest March on Saturday, and Sanctity of Life Sunday. I spent this weekend engulfed in social media, and almost triggered by every other post I encountered. It was amazing how frustrated I became when I saw post after post that I disagreed with. I had to sit back and examine what was going on and ask why I had let other’s outrage actually affect me. It seems to me that there is little to no ability for reasonable political discourse for many people in this country. I think that in order for us to rise above a culture that tells us to be outraged about every little thing, we must put in the time and effort to have calm, healthy discussions with one another. Here are three tips to help overcome an outrage culture,
1) Do Your Homework
So many people today are swayed by either fake news, or a confirmation bias. When you are willing to repeat something just because you want it to be true, rather than knowing it to be true, you are feeding the monster that is our outrage culture. We need to be persuaded by facts and rational arguments rather than gut-level feelings or hopes. Do your homework by fact checking questionable claims at snopes.com. Read both sides on an issue. Read left-leaning articles at Vox, as well as conservative articles at The Blaze. Check every articles sources. Try to understand both sides of an issue before making sweeping proclamations about an issue that you haven’t researched very well.
2) Don’t Assume the Worst
So many people today are sucked into an outrage culture by assuming the worst possible motive of someone who disagrees with them. This method is not only intellectually bankrupt, but also shuts down dialogue and debate. When we encounter an opinion that we do not like or agree with, it is unfair to attribute motive to your opponent. The late Christopher Hitchens saw this trend coming and wrote,
“I had become too accustomed to the pseudo-Left new style, whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method, which is now the norm and the standard in much non-Left journalism as well, is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.”
3) Treat Every Interaction as a Chance to Learn Something
So many times when I see a post that I don’t agree with, I decide it is my job to rush in and convert everyone to my way of thinking. To be certain, it may be appropriate to voice your opinion or provide new information to a conversation. However, a dialogue and discussion involves listening as well as speaking. Always be open to new information or a new perspective. The only way to have an honest debate is if both parties are willing to hear each other out and try to understand where the other person is coming from. This doesn’t mean you will always agree or come to the same conclusion. However, your discussion will be civil and mutually beneficial if you are willing to take some time and listen to another perspective.
I have written these out just as much for me as everyone else. Let’s try to make social media (and personal interactions for that matter) a more pleasant and beneficial experience. Even if the small number of people reading this can be informed, not assume the worst, and treat every interaction as a chance to learn, then we can begin to overcome the culture of outrage.