Outrage is an industry. But we already knew that didn’t we? Not in the coherent way that Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson set out the case against the outrage culture in their new book ‘End of Discussion’. As Ramesh Ponnuru writes on Bloomberg, they cite well-known but poignant examples of the way the outrage culture outstrips any sense of proportion.
For example, as he describes it, the “defenestration of Brendan Eich as chief executive officer of Mozilla for refusing to profess support for same-sex marriage”. There have been lots of other cases but they didn’t make the national news, he says. Or the International Outrage Index for that matter. Remember the case of Justine Sacco, whose tweet led to her losing her job and a public shaming of outrageous proportions.
Ms Sacco was flying to South Africa and tweeted as follows: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
She didn’t have many Twitter followers – just 170 as it happened – and yet, 11 hours later, she turned on her phone to find that she was the number one trending topic on Twitter and the target of an online mob that was outraged by her “racism”.
This is, of course, hardly the most outrageous instance of social media mobs and internet vigilante justice.
There are many politically correct examples of rage and revenge and they’re not limited to the online world.
The book lists the way liberal pundit Juan Williams was fired from NPR for admitting while on Fox News that he “gets nervous” when he sees people “in Muslim garb.”
Surely people are allowed to say what they think?
Yes and no.
For social media, here’s the rule: never put online anything you wouldn’t want to say outside the close confines of your home, family and friends.
End of discussion.