People on the Internet will piss you off. It’s inevitable.
I don’t talk politics on this blog. But I know outrage culture leads people to techcrastinate, and that anger might be addictive.
The world needs less hate. There’s a lot of it right now. I can’t instruct you how to handle “fake news”; I’m a novice myself. But I’ve learned to avoid things that deliberately irritate me.
So here are some tips to reduce your outrage consumption.
1. Recognize it’s done on purpose.
All news is biased. Period. Presenters choose what to report on, and which facts to select.
News are organizations are businesses. Ethics are cutesy, and often a losing strategy.
Therefore, outrage is a business model. (This is known as the attention economy.)
Every news outlet appeals to the bias of its readers to keep them clicking on new pages, exposed to new ads for potential ad revenue. Your anger, fear, and hate are being exploited and multiplied. There’s no way around this.
And yes, even the “good guys.”
So while it’s easy to demonize them, without an audience, they wouldn’t exist.
It starts with you.
2. Avoid outrage headlines.
Good headlines provoke curiosity and emotion… whichever emotion the writer, editor, or higher-ups want you to feel. Outrage? Terror? Relief?
There will always be something new to be outraged about. And people will tell you to be outraged about it.
Again, they need ad revenue or subscriptions. No business survives without money.
So avoid headlines with inflammatory loaded language (like “killed” versus “executed”), especially if it confirms what you already know or is just “person X said what?!!”
If it’s not a surprise, move on. If the facts intrigue you– the story– read it. But if it reinforces your worldview and gives you another example of “those people”, you’re turning more and more into a hate-fueled fanatic. And hate doesn’t stay inside.
Plus, headlines can hook you with a false promise. I’ve heard stories about people who take the headline as truth, but the article itself says something different.
I just made this up, but let’s take “1 in 4 (members of group) (believe this).” Down the page, you see they interviewed four people. It’s a true headline, but if you just read that, you might assume all (people) in (area of interview) believe this thing, and they represent the whole country.
No person or group of extremists, hatemongers, or professionals represents everyone in the group they’re from. That applies from a hundred scientists to an entire political party.
When you see a headline that tells you what you already know, avoid it. Because people learn to hate. Hate is taught. And if you’re here, you want to stop that in your own heart first.
(‘Cause otherwise, it’s too easy to click on them and lose hours.)
3. Humble yourself.
You might not be right.
Science can be discredited with new or peer-reviewed science. Facts and statistics can be distorted. Videos can be deceptively edited.
And is it really worth it to shove in that heckler’s face how righteous you are, to put them in their place?
I’m pretty sure the Earth isn’t flat, but I’m not about to read hours of astronomy to disprove some fool on the Internet. Ha! Take that!
…no, I have better things to do.
So before you fire back at some SHOUTING HATER, listen to Rihanna: “Laugh or log off.“
Don’t drag yourself down to their level. Hate begets only hate.
Feel the anger, and let it out in little amounts. Don’t bottle it up. But don’t yell at your screen or type a scathing retort, either.
in for 3, out for 6
feel your heart soften
Put another way: don’t hate the player, hate the game. No one is born that ugly, distorted way you see them now. What factors can you think of that might have twisted them?
Don’t fire back. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
If you’re reading this article, you don’t want to prove someone wrong, correct them, or convert them. Because here’s the thing: whether hate plays a role or not, even if you believe you’re right and righteous, you might not be. We all believe we’re right.
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness implies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.Martin Luther King Jr.
*Extra note: outrage and hate
Peddling, and fueling, hate does not help the other side see your point of view. When you insult them, they stop listening. (Why don’t people understand this?)
Therefore, outrage induced by your media of choice will never convince the people you’re trying to convince. All you’re doing is amplifying division and pushing hate, even when you think you’re the good guys.
I can’t stand behind someone who mocks, berates, and lobs hate at their opponent, even if they’re on “my side.” As though politics were team sports!
If you want to rid the world of hate, expel it from your own heart first.
4. Balance negativity with positivity
Twitter is a cesspool. I don’t know about the other social media, but thought bubbles kill. They shatter optimism and instill hate. And see point #1: outrage is a business model.
Does this mean always seek out dissenting opinions? That helps, but it’s time-consuming, and if you’re here, you don’t want to read more hate. (One “side” will likely have it.)
Instead, realize when it’s dragging you down and abandon ship.
At the least, don’t make your news source your homepage. Don’t bookmark it, either. Make it hard to get to. And don’t check it more than twice a day at most; set a timer, or a limit. No matter how engaging (fearmongering, hateful…) it is, stop before you eat too much.
Second, avoid the opinion column. Opinions are like (rude anatomical feature): we all have them.
And third, choose one of these to tip the scales away from hate:
- cute animal videos on YouTube (just don’t get addicted there)
- at the least, poke fun at yourself
For instance, the 2020 Trump/Biden debate looked like this:
5. If you can’t love, at least don’t hate.
Cynical, pessimistic people may be at greater risk for depression, heart disease, and anxiety. High levels of stress might damage the brain and cause cognitive decline. Grudges, anger, and bitterness may lead to high blood pressure, mood disorders, and devouring vindictiveness.
It’s not in your favor to hate. No one wants to, if they’re being honest. They just want freedom from fear that someone is going to hurt them. If you want the same, let it go.
Hate is an instinct. Love is a choice. (Well, hate is a choice, too.)
If you can’t love and forgive those who hate you, the least you can do is not let them turn you into a hateful monster screaming back at them.
Someone has to take the high road. Someone has to be the better person. Why not you?