Hydrogen? Stupidity? You could make a pretty good case for outrage as Single Most Common Element in the Universe, and there’s a reason for that:
Every single one of us, despite our best efforts, holds their own set of prejudices, biases, preferences, distastes and tilted priorities. We all think that we’re right, and people who oppose us are wrong. Even those of us who admit that they don’t know everything hold certain “truths” so near that they are guilty of this. The people who claim to be totally objective are usually the worst offenders.
Part of this is because, in our lifelong pursuit to know the difference between right and wrong, we all find ways to modify our criteria for determining what “right and wrong” is. Every single one of us has deeply-held beliefs that we apply to the behavior of others, but which we do not adhere to personally. This is an unavoidable flaw within us.
It’s part of being human. It is the Universal Double Standard. The Universal Double Standard is a key component of who we are. We can’t eliminate it. It’s what makes us individuals. However, we can recognize it and navigate around it in order to coexist with our fellow humans. It seems of late that we have forgotten how to agree to disagree. Nobody wants to ‘fess up to their own hypocrisies.
My own particular set of biases, for instance, states that one should do heavy rewrites rather than inflict multiple measures of pronoun-agreement failure on the reader. Then again, I’m also on record as being in favor of honoring individual persons’ preferred-pronoun requests, which can and will cause me syntactical problems in years to come. So basically, I asked for it.
Then again, at least I know when I’ve asked for it. And not that I have anything to brag about, particularly, but not everyone lives with this degree of self-awareness:
Humans enjoy being outraged. Outrage is bright and shiny and it keeps us from actually having to do anything. We can stamp our feet and huff and puff and post memes to Facebook to “make (fill in the blank generalized insult) heads explode.” When we do that, we don’t actually have to take any meaningful action or listen to opposing viewpoints or do anything more than roll over on the couch and fart. Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but outrage is the big, gooey, tooth-rotting candy of the masses. They love that stuff.
We Like something on Facebook, or we sign something on change.org, and think we’ve actually Done Something. We have not. At best, we’ve thrown up a marker for the express purpose of signaling to the rest of the world that we are every bit as good as we think we are. I’m operating under the assumption that to every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and that it’s therefore reasonable to assume that there’s a counterpart to inaction as well: it is possible, I surmise, to be even more disconnected than I am.
This is not to say, of course, that I am blissfully free of elevated umbrage levels, as anyone who’s hung around here more than a week can easily discern. But merely glaring at things, I’m hoping, might result in less exacerbation than adding to the decibel level in the echo chambers would.
(Via Roger Green.)