No no wait! Don’t unfollow yet!! Hear me out! I know, I know we all hate those uptight people that get their panties in the tightest of bunch at the slightest provocation. I’m not going to say you should love them. I’m not planning on turning this blog into some type of manifesto either. Let’s face it, it’s already pretty impressive I even know the word manifesto.
But you know…maybe it’s o.k. for these people to exist?
Ok here’s the deal. One of the most common response I see to criticism of fiction or even essays on the basis of moral beliefs, is: If you don’t like it then don’t read/watch/listen to it… As in don’t purposely expose yourself to material you will find objectionable and then whine about it. Cause that’s annoying and in the age of rapid-fire social media, often useless. Except, well, that argument is sort of self-defeating, isn’t it?
What I mean is that if peoples’ opinions about a particular piece of media are likely to upset you, you don’t have to read/listen to/watch them either, do you? It sort of goes both ways. And just as you may have been unwittingly bombarded by these remarks and felt the urge to respond, someone may have felt compelled to watch a show for instance, that everyone is talking about and really wanted to immediately share their opinions because it made a strong impression.
Hey, I get it. I hate seeing shows I enjoy get bombarded by bad reviews and slanderous comments before they even air. It annoys me to no end when general discussion on an anime focuses in on some minute or generally irrelevant aspect and misses out on the greater and often much more interesting thesis of the show. And it’s just plain tiresome to see people aimlessly bitch without ever giving any real support or context to their gripes.
But it’s also kind of great, maybe even important.
To me having both the freedom and means to share your personal beliefs and opinions on any given subject is truly a thing of wonder and marvel. It’s not without its pitfalls, I understand that. I think some people may have grasped the power of unfiltered communication without quite catching up to the implied responsibility, but even as such, I still prefer this to the alternative.
I understand that having to wade through an increasingly vast pool of inane and malicious comments to get to anything of substance means that we are getting closer and closer to having opinions of worth completely drowned out by the general noise. But at least, they’re still somewhere to be found. It takes a lot of effort, one that I and most people won’t put in, but one chance in a billion is still greater than zero.
I also believe that the market won’t be swayed so much by general opinion as it will be by cold hard cash. The “negative” (or positive but this is rarely the case, let’s face it) opinions you are seeing about a show you enjoy are going to be completely irrelevant if that show brings in viewers. In fact, they might even help its popularity through notoriety so the joke’s on them really. Heck, you might want to encourage them to do more.
And yeah, I would really prefer to live in a world where the internet, one of the most powerful communication tools we’ve ever created and an actual step forward in human evolution, was not dominated by petty, unresearched or just plain mean comments. I do believe we’ll get there. Communication, as in actual transfer of information, is pretty essential to our survival and sooner or later we’re going to have to naturally adapt to do so in an efficient way. In the meantime, well… there’s a learning curve.
However, suppressing the bad in this case, also means preventing the good. Relating to each other and sharing ideas isn’t as easy as it sounds, it takes practice and we all fail at it sometimes. If we don’t let people try to do so, they’re never going to get any better at it.
I’m not quite so naïve as to think I can change those people who carelessly scream out random and unconstructive criticism at the slightest provocation. I also know that I’m lucky enough to have readers that simply don’t have these impulses. As my wishy-washy writing style is likely to be unbearable to those stronger and more impulsive personality types (I think…maybe). But just for my own comfort, I’m going to layout my general engagements for living up to the responsibilities of online communication.
For one, I will try to never tell you not to speak. However, I do reserve the right to completely ignore your opinion if you refuse to tell me what it’s based on. I also maintain the right to disagree, but I will tell you why. And I’ll still like you. Some of my best friends disagree with pretty much everything I say. By the way, you never have to apologize for disagreeing with me. I take the fact that you took the time and effort to seriously consider my stand and come up with your own as a compliment. No one ever bothers to officially disagree with idiots after all. There’s no point.
I will keep on sharing completely unfounded and purely emotional reaction and opinions, but I won’t pretend they’re anything other than flights of fancy. I won’t ever define you by your tastes in entertainment. I might define you by the way you react to other people based on their tastes in entertainment, but I’d have to actually know about it.
I will get unreasonably protective of my friends. I just will. You might as well know about it now. If I get randomly offended, I’ll tell you. If I offended you, tell me about it.
As long as you actually have something to say, I will do my best to listen. I may need a bit (or a lot) of explanation occasionally, but I promise to ask for it, so you won’t have to aimlessly guess. And besides that, if I have a random moral stand that’s important to me, I’ll share it, but I will be as careful as possible never to impose it. And that’s it really.
Like I said, I know you guys are already super amazing and have been doing these basic things, and much more all along. I’m sharing these so if I slip up, you can call me out and help me stick to who I want to be.
Is there any golden rule you go by when dealing with moral or emotional reactions to media? Do you just keep them to yourself to avoid any trouble? Are you fed up of hearing everybody’s slightest discontent with every little issue? Do you think all the negativity is doing more harm than good? I personally veer towards the other extreme because of my particular background and experiences but I admit the point is very arguable. Endless echo chambers of aimless indignation aren’t doing anyone any good… In any case, please let me know 😉
43 thoughts on “In Defense of Social Outrage”
It’s not so much the ferocity and resolve of people with their negative opinions, it is those who believe their opinion is fact – THAT is where the real problem lies, and why they end up being viewed as pompous, toxic twats and not someone with something valid to say.
Yeah……… Why am I remembering that stupid Netflix-original show called Atypical now?
In any case, there are definitely spiteful, shallow, horrid people in the world! I just watched a play with some yesterday… about 1st graders! Such a weird play…………..
I don’t have Netflix so I can’t relate to that reference I’m afraid… :-/.
Thank you for this! I really hate how nowadays internet culture seems to be that if you do not agree with me you must be a bad person. I’d like to think that people have more substance and won’t get all kinds of triggered for finding someone with a different point of view. I just don’t get how people can claim to be pro diversity yet shut down anyone who thinks differently from themselves.
One thing I’ve learned about gut reactions: when I feel definsive about a post I’ve read, it’s a good idea to type up the post, then not post it, come back later when I’ve calmed down and type the post anew. The first post is for me to figure out what I actually felt, and the second post is to communicate with others.
That’s the theory. Now I just have to learn how to implement it. In practise it often boils down to me posting the initial post prematurely, or – far more often lately – to just never post anything in the first place. Luckily, I don’t feel defensive all that often to begin with.
One of the disadvantages of social media is its pace, I think. Look at the above, and then see the part where I say I should come back later, when I’ve calmed down, except that I often don’t come back at all. Sometimes it’s just that I lost the motivation, it’s not important, I just don’t bother. Sometimes however it’s that the time window where my reply would have been meaningful is closed: I’d have to revive the conversation, and I almost never care that much.
Now this is certainly only a small part of the picture, but I do think it’s a trend: the fast pace of social media conversations encourages immediate reactions, but discourages letting the situation sink in. Conversations on blog posts last a couple of days, sometimes maybe a week. Conversations on forums could last for more than a month, and you could go back (the software made this easy) to trace the development of a conversation, simply quoting older posts alonside newer posts.
And if nothing gets resolved and similar topics crop up again and again, some predictable verbiage can feel like not only being poked by sharp stick, but being poked by a sharp stick in a never-healing wound. You don’t get the time to calm down, you don’t get the time to let things sink in.
On twitter, for example, I sometimes get feeling that like-collecting contests replace true emotional closure. Posts with lots of likes accumulate likes faster; it’s social gravity. And if you see posts that hurt you turn into a like-generation machine…
(I’m sure the pace of social media interactions has increased with the rise of smart phones, as well: ever been hurried through a reply because the bus was reaching your destation, for example? I never feel as old as when I’m on the net.)
I agree with everything you say yet part of me adires the sincerity of a knee jerk reaction
Oh, I love a good rant. I’m not a natural ranter, though. Never was.
Also, rants might be sincere, but there not necessarily the foundations of opinions. It’s like a child telling her mother he hates her, because he doesn’t get a new toy. The sentiment isn’t likely to last very long, and probably untrue in contextually irrelevant minor details even at the moment of the rant.
Oh I agree it’s a generally unproductive exercise
I don’t mind people with opinions. It is when people start getting personally nasty about it that I up and leave. One of the reasons I don’t do short-form social media.
The thinking parts of some people’s brains are poorly developed. Most social media depends on text-bites as a proxy for rational discussion. No attempt to see where the other person is coming from, as that would be considered weakness. Disagreements turn into ad hominem attacks. The instant the nasty epithets come out, I’m gone.
That has never happened on the blogging circuit to me. Long-form allows one to express some depth in one’s ideas and to see the depth in the other person’s. People who don’t think deeply naturally avoid long form because as we all know, a serious long-form post is HARD to do.
Shouting a slogan or calling someone a nasty name or linking to someone else’s instead of doing your own is much easier.
I do come across malicious blog comments occasionally but it’s fairly rare. I have read some pretty hurtful posts though.
I don’t mind people disagreeing with my opinion and actually really enjoy a healthy back and forth when both sides are listening to the other and actually critiquing the thing they are talking about. The problem I find is a lot of people either just want to insist they are right and that any other view is an affront to theirs, or they dismiss any point that might disagree with theirs, or what they are actually doing is reading beyond the material in front of them and then criticising it on behalf of some interpretation of what it might represent.
Then again, as you say, I can equally just not read or engage with people who like to get outraged over things. Generally my reader and people I engage with online are pretty open to diverse opinions and to sharing why they feel that way. I’ve had one or two readers/followers who just seem to like telling me I’m wrong but I’ve found they tend to stop commenting after awhile when they realise I’m just not interested in having a fight with someone over a difference in opinion.
I’ve been very lucky in my readers. I can’t recall anyone outright mean. Actually I did have one guy comment just to tell me they read the whole post and it was pretty boring. That mesmerized me. One of my favorite comments to date
Makes you wonder why he bothered to finish reading it or felt compelled to comment but yeah, it takes all kinds.
I’d love to have a healthy discussion with differing opinions, but that’s the point. Some times the ‘discussion’ is pretty much one person yelling at the other at which point it gets tiring.
Rants are different though. I live funny rants about shows people hated…
So you think the wording matters more than the messaging
Perhaps? I agree that a plot of messages that sound aversive could be made persuasive with the wording.
But wording can’t be more important than the message itself for me…
Being outraged, or just angry at something because it is provokes a strong response is part of life, that’s normal. You are going to see things in this world that piss you off or make you mad, whether it is entertainment or otherwise.
Social Outrage however is more about people terrified of stepping out of line with the ideology and “in crowd”. That social outrage leaves no room for nuance or critical thinking.
Like, i can understand that someone with different life experiences as my own would look at something like Goblin Slayer or Shield Hero and choose to not watch it, or even write about why. I may disagree with them, but I have to remain emphatic and aware that my worldview and how I view these shows isn’t the universal truth. That is something many people to understand.
But I have ZERO patience for people who hate on something because they want to conform to a group ideology, or shit on a piece of work because god fucking forbid it decides to be about something controversial. It reeks of fear, fear of having your own tastes, and fear of people maybe disagreeing with you because you like something they don’t.
I fucking love harem and ecchi anime to death, and i’ll be the FIRST in line to acknowledge that it has some eyebrow raising stuff that people may not like. I respect people who are like ‘cool that you like this, but this just isn’t for me.” I do not respect people who are like “Well it’s 2019, and you need to do better.” They can just fuck right off.
It is a matter of developing dogma within an echo chamber.
I wish I could say something smart and meaningful here, but it seems like everyone here, but it seems like a lot of people have already.
That being said, the best part the internet is that everyone can share their opinions to everyone and that is also the worst thing. There is a lot to take from that, because being attached to other people instantaneously opens so many doors that society needs and doesn’t need.
It’s a rather complex issue whithout a right answer – at least not one I can come up with
The thing I hate about the current system is the lack of accountability. I’ve seen a lot of outrageous statements that have been shown to be completely false, but there’s no apology or even acknowledgement. They just wander off and make another bad take.
Difference of opinions are good, but it’s too easy to hide behind anonymous profiles and say whatever they want, knowing full well that they’d never say it in a real world situation.
Also someone that had a bad experience is more likely to tell people about it than someone who had a good experience. So there’s always going to be more negativity out there, which is a shame.
That’s a good point – we don’t celebrate the positive enough!
“The thing I hate about the current system is the lack of accountability.”
This is the key point. If we can work out the safety issues, a verifiable identity and the reputation it builds over time could be an effective way to address this.
That’s not easy at all, but we have to figure out something along those lines.
Yes, of course, I appreciate that some need that level of protection. It’s the people that have half-a-dozen accounts and see trolling as a past time that o have no time for.
I think best thing would to flood the system with positivity. Make it the norm to praise and recognize the good experiences.
“I think best thing would to flood the system with positivity. ”
Absent a complete overhaul of the responsibility/reputation system, I think that’s the best bet. And goodness knows, I see a bunch of us trying!
I get what you’re saying, but some of the social outrage you’re describing is completely manufactured for cynical ends, and thus doesn’t come from a place with good intentions. I can’t condone that, because it poisons broader online discourse.
A lot of people are wise to clickbait now, so what we get instead is hatebait, where a writer for a (commercial, ad-supported) site posts something deliberately intended to rile people up in order to draw them to the page in order to leave an angry comment. They can then point at all those angry comments and go “LOOK AT ALL THESE ANGRY COMMENTS, WHAT LOSERS” which in turn will piss off more people and encourage more angry comments, and thus the cycle continues, manipulating people into inadvertently providing a site ad impressions.
There’s no value to me in outrage for the sake of outrage, and more often than not these days, the outrage-bait we get is just yelling about something being racist/sexist/misogynist/ableist/transphobic/homophobic/whatever just because those are fashionable buzzwords that make people angry on all sides. And what’s worse, a lot of this stuff is based on pure hearsay, conjecture or complete fabrications in some cases. The recent “transphobia” controversy over the rerelease of Catherine for PS4 was based entirely on the say-so of a blowhard last seen completely making something up about another game (Fire Emblem in that case) for the sake of trying to look important.
If someone has an actual point? Great. Argue it, preferably without insulting anyone who enjoys the work in question, and be prepared that some people might not think you are correct. “Everyone who likes this game is a paedophile”, though? “This well-respected team, widely credited with pushing a medium forward, is transphobic?” Get outta here.
You have the right idea with what you do here. Make a Point, Explain it, give an Example — a structure my English teacher used to describe as “PEE-ing all over your work” — and you consistently provide enjoyable and thought-provoking stuff to enjoy here, so keep up the great work 🙂
I agree with you, to a certain extent. One of my main posts who got a great number of views was because of a hate comment that I got. Was my title clickbait? Yes, to a certain extent! Was I saying that I didn’t like about something that the person love, yes, but in a calm and objective kind of way.
So, yeah, no wonder that people will use clickbait titles that will incur anger to anyone who loves a certain thing. However, I do believe things are changing slightly. If you want to get views to your website you need to know how to write good copywriting, and that means titles that will make people click – in other words kind of a clickbait (but a good one). However, I believe that more and more, you will get more views if in the tile you add some kind of added value to what people are searching.
I will give you my example, I’ve changed completely how I write my titles. What I do is to make the title with a more curious perspective and adding value to what people are looking. I mean, if I’m writing about a show, what are the fans talking the most, or looking up the most?
Now, did it work. Yes, very well in fact. And you know what? It works best in the long run than the using hate triggers. Let’s say that someone enters in your site just to write a comment because you hated in something they love… Do you think they will come back? I don’t believe so. So, in a way, yeah it may work in short run, but if you actually want to have a sustainable website which will give you money for the long term, then you need to create a community around it, something that is not going happen by just hating on everything for the views.
At least, that is my take on it. However, I know that you are talking more into the gaming side where the saltiness is a little bigger than the Anime community. However, I think earlier or later, people will start to understand that there are other ways (and better ways) to create content that will pull people in and more profitable. People are more eager to spend money from creators they love xD
To clarify, when I’m talking about clickbait, I’m talking about deliberately manipulative and sometimes even deceitful headlines, the most cliched of which is “Ten things you didn’t know about [x], number 7 will blow you away!” But it also extends to deliberately provocative headlines, which is what I’m mostly referring to here.
A while back, a game a number of people I know liked got a PC port, and a reviewer headlined their review “Dynasty Warriors for paedophiles”, which is not only inaccurate about how the game plays, it’s also grossly offensive. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about; writing a good headline to get people interested is not the same as clickbaiting… it’s just good copywriting! 🙂
I see and understand your point here as well. And encourage useless, poisonous discourse is definetly a huge risk that has repercussions. The question is, is censorship the best solution?
Maybe – I don’t actually know.
No, I don’t think censorship is the best solution at all. Discouraging people from engaging with hatebait and recognising it for what it is would be the ideal thing, but unfortunately that has proven to be less than effective so far!
And it’s a shame. If sites had more freedom to put out the sort of things we bloggers put out, free of the constraints of ad revenue, I feel like online writing and discourse would be generally much more pleasant to engage with.
While the commercial side of online writing is still ad-supported, however — and while people still aren’t willing to pay up for a “publication” in the same way as we used to buy magazines — this situation is going to remain.
Still, we can all set a better example! 🙂
There’s the optimistic Pete we all love!
But the thing is… Does ad revenue is all that good? I don’t know, but I feel that websites would gain way more revenue versus effort if they just did what youtubers do… Endorse something you love and sell the crap out of it… And there’s more… Website revenue can also come from doing feature posts for a brand, so even if you don’t want to start an affiliate, I belive that if you have a followership who likes you, it will bring more revenue if you just do that instead of having Google ads (for example) which let’s face it, as a click through rate close to zero
“Discouraging people from engaging with hatebait and recognising it for what it is would be the ideal thing, but unfortunately that has proven to be less than effective so far!”
That might be the best capsule description i’ve read of the current state of Western civilization.
That “less than effective” part blunts our ability to understand risk and our ability to elect effective politicians, not to mention our ability to empathize and engage in effective communication!
Never a good solution. Somehow it always works out to be a fight over who gets to pull the levers and oppress the other guy. Best to have a free market of ideas and let the stupid show how stupid they are.
Yes. I was once attacked as a racist for quoting part of MLK’s “I have a dream speech”.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
I thought for sure everyone who saw that would immediately recognize it. I was immediately accused of trying to denying black people their racial identity and it all went to hell from there.
Apparently, some people haven’t studied any history at all. I continue to avoid short-form social media for anything but family and friends.
The scary thing about the Internet is that it is the single most powerful weapon you can have in a war of information, and EVERYBODY has access to it.
It’s insane how quickly overblown things can get.
However,on the flip side,I would have never known or watched so many of my now all-time favorite shows if they hadn’t been memed to death on forums.
I think it was Voltaire who once said “I disapprove of what you say,but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”
Social media is like a weapon on its own, amazing how its managed to both connect people and yet isolate them at the same time.
That does not sound like Voltaire at all. Dude did not approve of freedom of speech – especially not for the masses…
Was he drunk?
First used by historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall in 1906. What happened was Voltaire was objecting to the overreaction of the Parliament of Paris when they burned copies of a then-controversial work called “On the Mind”. Voltaire thought the work was without value and he disagreed with it. What he said was “What a fuss about an omlette! How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that!”
Hall later said in her work that she believed one of his principles was: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”
People who did not read closely started to attribute it to Voltaire as a quote. Hall attempted to correct the perception but it was too late. The meme had taken root and would not go away.
Oh,thanks for attributing it to the correct person, I only remembered the quote from old lessons in high school.
As Fred corrected me, It was probably a lady name Beatrice Hall.