Saturday, August 18, 2018

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StephenVance 270It seems as if everyone I talk to these days is outraged about something. Gone are the good old days of simply being frustrated, or even a little angry. In these modern times apparently frustration is not enough – we need to be outraged by whatever bee is in our bonnet. Well, I refuse to be part of the outrage culture.

I can't seem to escape people's outrage these days, particularly on social media where it seems every issue, big or small, is worthy of over-the-top outrage combined with often inaccurate memes, and a chorus line of eco-chamber minions piling on until a whole group of people has worked themselves into a virtual tizzy over something – or nothing.

With all this outrage fuelling the engines of so many on so many different issues, life must be pretty bad for us here in Canada. With so many people living their daily lives with such a heightened level of anger, we must really be experiencing hardships that the rest of the world couldn't possibly understand.

The topics of outrage shift from week to week. Sometimes I see folks outraged that there's a pothole on a road that's worthy of ten photos and a lengthy diatribe about politicians conspiring, to do what exactly, I have yet to figure out. Other times I see people outraged about refugees crossing our border, apparently hundreds of thousands, if not millions of them according to some outraged folks, and this outrage often turns into a string of comments, many of them bordering on racist, but most definitely uninformed and bigoted.

I see Liberals (capital L, as in party faithful) outraged over Doug Ford cancelling wind power contracts, some of them screaming about the outrageous cost to do so while apparently forgetting the cost of gas plant closures by their own beloved party. I see conservatives outraged at the perceived wasteful spending of left-leaning governments on things like social welfare or environmental projects.

To make matters worse, in this outrage culture, it seems that there are only ever two sides – either you agree with the outrage, or you're obviously an idiot. The middle ground in the debating world is shrinking faster than our middle class – something else to be outraged about, I suspect.

Everyone is outraged, and everyone who isn't is wrong.

Whatever happened to the days of respectful debate? Whatever happened to reasonable people being able to disagree yet still be civil to each other? Whatever happened to the ability to accept compromise, or to consider alternate points of view rather than simply scoffing at them and continuing to spout your outrage on social media?

When I found myself recently feeling the initial tinglings of outrage over a pretty minor issue, I decided I needed to take a moment and reset my outrage meter. I asked myself if outrage was really the appropriate reaction when there are much larger issues to be concerned about. I also asked myself how bad we really have it in life when compared to other parts of the world.

Don't get me wrong, many of the things I see people raging about are concerning indeed. Some of the issues should make us angry, should make us frustrated, but if we want to be outraged, let's not waste that energy on whether a municipal truck is parked in a residential driveway, or whether we see enough police cruisers in our low-crime community. We should be outraged that we live in a virtual lap of luxury while a good chunk of the world starves in poverty. We should be outraged at the large number of wars that are taking place at this very moment around the globe. We should be outraged that people living on reservations often have horrid water quality. We shouldn't be outraged that Nike has sponsored an athlete that said something stupid.

With all the outrage we're expressing over relatively minor things these days, what the heck are we going to do when there's something to actually be outraged about? Who will take outrage seriously when we've wasted that emotion on such minor things in recent times?

Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, but I for one refuse to participate in the outrage culture. Debating issues is great, but if your starting point is that anyone who disagrees with your outrage is simply wrong and should be taunted or bullied rather than engaging in respectful, intelligent debate, then I'll simply move on.

It must be exhausting to be constantly outraged, I'll save my energy thanks.


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