This post is pat of a series.
In 10 symptoms you are addicted to outrage porn, I brought to the fore the many things I recognized in my own self as I tried to disengage from this activity. And so I’ve asked myself many questions, including WHY I do it. Are all my motivations illegitimate? Is there something better I can do with my time?
Bad Motivations that Lead us to Outrage Addiction
Most of our illegitimate reasons are not intellectual, but visceral and emotional. We react because we FEEL something strongly, but often, those feelings are grounded in emotions that are misdirected from other emotional scars and fears.
- Fear: There is a reason that ‘fearmongers’ are both effective and despised – they play on our fears for safety and often base their exaggerations in genuine but minimal or misunderstood risk. Whether it’s opponents of gay marriage or promoters of global climate change, their claims outstrip their facts by miles. But whatever we are afraid of, we may over react to.
- Lack of Control: We often feel out of control, especially with large societal problems that are only seemingly in the hands of legislators or the rich. It’s easy and natural to want to demonize those who are in control and seemingly don’t care about us as individuals.
- Misplaced Fears and Anger: We often have have deeper angers that need resolution, but of course, it’s easier to vent them on a scapegoat. In psychology, this is commonly known as a type of projection – we focus our anger on something OUTSIDE of ourselves because we are unable to resolve the anger INSIDE of ourselves. Anytime you find yourself over-reacting or being consumed by something negative, you should take that as a sign that something RELATED may be an issue in your own heart. Time to examine it!
- Ignored and Insignificant: Sometimes, we feel ignored, like no one cares, and no one listens. Like a hypochondriac trying to get attention, we may trumpet provocative ideas in order to get the adrenaline thrill, not only of arguing, but being engaged with seriously instead of being insignificant.
- This Messed Up World: Often we feel like the world is messed up – not only do we feel out of control, we recognized that some big ideologies or power groups are selfishly manipulating or ruining our shared world – power companies, governments, religions, anti-religions, and a host of other ‘mis-motivated’ jerks are the problem! I just want to live in peace! It’s easy to want to blame a few big groups, and preferably, ones we are NOT part of – I mean, if THAT were the case, we’d have to personally change ;)
- Unhappy relationships: Believe it or not, the most significant personal relationships in our lives are the ones that are often the most painful and problematic – high divorce rates tell us that, and anyone who has tried to be in relationship might agree with the idea that we are all broken. Many of us feel ill equipped to fix this part of our lives, and are deeply angry with ourselves or our situations. However, not wanting to take out our anger on our significant others, we again externalize it. This huge pain point, IMO, motivates the anger of many.
- Victimization: If you’ve ever been or felt victimized by those in power, you want fairness and justice. And those who oppose it? Well, they are the enemy, and deserve every bit of venom we can spew their way. We all hate bullies, right?
Look, there is a time to be outraged, and a way to do something about it. We’ll talk about that next time.