Outrage Fatigue

People with Liberal philosophies, like myself, are being adressed by a couple of local bloggers this week.  Christian Grantham over at NiT is calling us out over our perceived silence about the abuses of eminent domain.  Ms. Ginger, while not necessarily targeting Liberals, is wondering how so many people of Faith feel removed from what is happening to our immigrant neighbors.  I thought S-Town Mike did a great job of explaining why some of us choose to focus on human rights issues as opposed to property rights issues.

But even S-Town Mike has, in the past, wondered aloud about why certain Progressive bloggers don’t engage on hyper-local issues, like zoning.  I cannot tell you how many times I sat down to my own keyboard, full of righteous indignation, intending to take everyone to task for not being as outraged as I am over one issue or another.  Iraq.  Peak Oil.  Global warming.  Sweatshops and child labor.  Immigration.  FISA.  Voter fraud.  Graft and corruption both in the private and public sector.  The list is endless.

I’m reminded how I felt immediately after Columbine.  Terrified first, then furious, then, finally, heartsick.  By the time a lone gunman shot and killed dozens at Virginia Tech, I was numb, but not at all indifferent.  There were several mass shootings between those two incidents, and each one acted a bit like a shot of novacaine to my heart, until all I could do was utter “tsk- tsk” and go on about my day.  Clearly, we have evolved in a way that our minds find a way to process information without the need of filtering that information through our souls first, or, maybe ever.

I am constantly disappointed in human behavior, including my own.  It is perhaps the greatest challenge I face….to find perfection in everything that happens.  I’m easily spun.  Pull my coat to something seemingly outrageous and I will work myself into a frenzy in short order.  Man, I do bow-up, and right fast.  I’ll grab my shield and sword and charge, screaming at the top of my lungs…only to be crushed when I glance behind me to see that only a handful of others have joined the fray.  What to do, then?  Should I continue to plunge headlong into a hopelessly lop-sided battle, and hope, by my example, that others will take up the fight?  Thats probably what I think I do, when, truthfully, I start to look for any justification to blame others for not being where I am,  in their own heads.

I used to get pretty hot when I’d read important posts, about serious problems, and find that after someone took the time and effort to write about it, there would only be a handful of comments.  But let someone shove a beam into their boobs and post about it…and there would be 99 comments in the first hour.  (not picking on you, B, just an example, and more often than not, you are the one writing the serious, important posts)  Again, perhaps its just the way humans have of dealing with a world chock full of outrage.

I know of no answers, except for myself.  Maybe thats the best any of us can do….reconcile ourselves with the events of the world and react in a way that allows us to improve ourselves…or not.  I know that I am taking more time to just sit quietly, and breathe, and listen, and not judge.  I manage about a minute a day.  I’m shooting for much more, mind you, but its a start, right?



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10 responses to “Outrage Fatigue

  1. Jon

    I don’t remember the precise wording and am too lazy to look it up, but Thoreau said something about there being no moral imperative to *fight* every injustice — it’s just not possible; one only has to *not participate in* any evil, and fight the evils that person most cares about.

    I think that’s as much as anyone can reasonably expect.

  2. Oh, I know you’re not picking on me. It’s true. It’s also why I throw those posts in there. I think people do get outrage fatigue and that when a blog is just outrage after outrage after outrage you either tune it out or it starts to do something to your soul (and not in a good way).

    Like it or not, human beings are deeply screwed up and yet we’re all we have. So, pointing out only the terrible stuff we do to each other, without breaks, is hard on folks. I think.

    So, throw in some boobs or some stories about my dog or whatever.

    I know it’s frustrating to see stuff that you care about not getting commented on, but I always keep in mind that I can see what posts people are reading and I know that they read the serious posts just as frequently, if not more.

    That’s enough for me.

    As for the property rights v. human rights debate, I appreciate what they’re saying, but like I said the other day, I’ve only got so much energy to go around. It doesn’t mean that what they’re talking about isn’t important. It just means it’s not where I’d choose to put my energy at the moment.

    I think it’s kind of a sucker’s move to criticize people for not blogging about what you’d have them blog about (meaning “you” in the general sense, not you specifically). It’s not really useful criticism and it seems to me to be a way of changing the conversation so that you can disregard what the person is talking about.

    And what Jon said.

  3. nm

    Doesn’t Christian have some pit bulls to get all outraged about? Why is he avoiding that important topic? Think of teh children!

  4. Everything that happens is important to somebody. There’s just too much outrage to go around these days what with war, the economy, Detroit going under, etc., etc. I wish I could say that my age and wisdom tells me that this is the issue to deal with instead of that one, but that would be a crock.

  5. democommie

    I am so pissed that Hellman’s mayo is in a smaller container at the same price… and yet, nobody, not the MSM or Fox or nobody is working that story–oh, wait a minute, yes they are, it’s the other stuff they’re ignoring. Whew, I had me worried for a minute there.

  6. After 9/11, I didn’t watch the news for a good two years.

    And even now, I don’t pay much attention.
    If you stop to pause and really digest the information the news puts out, how do you retain ANY faith in the natural goodness of people?

    I hate to be one of those people who’s turned on the IGNORE button and is so wrapped up in thier own little world, but I don’t do people very well as it is.

  7. Great post. You expressed how I often feel.

    But then, on other days, you find out your readers made those calls, and it makes it all worth it.

    Well, almost worth it.

    And the thing is, I’m as burned out as anyone else on bad news, and like B. said, you need the break from it.

    There has to be some balance between total activism and total apathy. I haven’t found it yet, though.

  8. Mack

    Ms. Cobb, I think you do a great job of finding that balance.

  9. Mack–
    Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. 🙂

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