If I had to name this time period in history, I would call it the Age of Outrage Addiction.
We have access to the news on our smartphones, in our social media, in televisions and magazines. It is very possible to consume news all day long. There are numerous news shows and 24-hour channels. And, even if you are trying to avoid it, your friends may share something and it floods your timeline. The speed at which news is shared is lightning fast. But, some of us may not know what consuming so much negative news can do to us, internally.
There are many great conversations happening because of what is occurring in the news. We are discussing police brutality, racism, sexism and all the things that prevent us from progressing. At the same time, some of it is being used to simply spark outrage and people are reacting to it with moral indignation.
When the mind perceives a threat, it pumps your body full of adrenaline and cortisol so you can either fight or flight. Keeping yourself in a heightened state of arousal all the time can lead to health problems.
While it is important to understand the issues and where you stand on them, discussing them all the time and allowing yourself to be offended are a choice. I am not saying you should bury your head in the sand or go live in a forest unless that is what you want to do. But, you can monitor and choose how much news you consume. Perhaps, you take a day where you block out all of the news, stay off social media and just read a book or live your life.
“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.”
― Mark Manson
I didn’t know that being offended was a choice. I thought if I heard something offensive that it meant that I had to get angry at it. I had to defend. I had to process my outrage towards the person who said it or thought it. But, I realized that I wasn’t actually doing anything productive.
Occasionally, you will convince someone to see things from your perspective if they care enough about your perspective to consider it. Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort that occurs when someone tries to consider two contradictory beliefs or ideas. Most people reject the opposite idea rather than consider it because they want to restore their balance and feel comfortable. So, only someone who is sincerely interested will listen and consider unless you are in a discussion forum where people have solicited open dialogue they want to consider.
This means, you probably are not going to change the world: one internet troll at a time. I know, it sucks to think that, right? But, people go back into their environment and it confirms what they believe.
Basically, you always have a choice even at the moment you feel offended. You can stop and ask yourself, what is being outraged going to do? However, if you constructively take that outrage and turn it into action, it can help. I am sure outrage has changed laws, created programs, and forced understanding where there was none. I can say outrage has even made me get on my keyboard and write an article. So, it’s not all bad when used constructively.
But, if you want to create positive things in your life. If you want to feel good inside and feel gratitude for the things you have. If you want to look at life as a miracle with so much potential to be great, then you have to turn off the news sometimes. Otherwise, you can constantly find reasons to feel depressed, angry or hopeless.
“It’s not a crime to offend others; in fact, it’s pretty much a natural consequence of having diverse cultures. We live in a world full of people with different backgrounds, interests, and values, and we must learn to accept that there will be clashes. As long as the differences do no harm, we should back off and accept them”
― P.Z. Myers