misdirected rage

Why do we express anger? It is so easy to feel anger when something doesn’t sit well with you, and increasingly easier to act on it, with a tweet or a post. And watching expressed anger, apparently can be an enjoyable experience.

But one writer considers herself and her “Mom Rage,” and concludes that online, its expression doesn’t do all that much good, given its limited scope.

And that’s the problem: The Internet isn’t the world. While returning digital rage for digital rage increases page views, it doesn’t change the world around me. And it’s a privileged kind of rage.

Lyz Lenz, “My Year of Mom Rage,” in Motherlode at NYTimes.com

Two political scientists consider television, and the fact that “outrage” is not an outcome of content, but is the content–and it’s lucrative.

The basic business model encourages hosts and bloggers to court controversy as a way of generating higher ratings (and, thus, more advertising dollars)… carefully negotiated shock is profitable… Only outrage blogs fail to make much in the way of money; few attract significant amounts of advertising, and they instead tend to be subsidized by their writers or owners, whose labor keeps these blogs going.

–Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj, “Are Americans Addicted to Outrage?” in Politico Magazine

It is harder, and in turn more gratifying, to wait for the rage to subside–as Ms. Lenz does with her daughter–and then work toward the solution to the offending problem.

I’m guessing that it is harder still to express anger and frustration at the right thing or person. When viewers tune in and get all fired up about Melissa Harris-Perry or Phil Robertson, perhaps they avoid getting fired up about something else. Something with greater personal stakes, more immediate impact. Something over which they feel utterly powerless, but something which they actually do control.

It can’t possibly be sustainable, all this mental heat on air or online.

It most definitely has no point.

And yet I wrote about it. Go figure.

Here’s something worth sharing: a couple of nine-year-old learning to skate. Happy birthday, daughter of ours. Here’s to a new year of rolling with it.


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