The minute-rage problem

Monday, January 8, 2018

You’ve probably heard of minute-rice. You put it on the stove for about 7 minutes, and you’ve got an instantly cooked side for your meal! I have nothing against minute-rice, but have you heard of its ugly cousin? It’s called minute-rage, and while it’s not exactly edible, there are plenty of “millennials” out there who’d like to shove it down your throat. That’s right, folks. Armed with a Tumblr blog and packing the emotional range of a toddler, today’s brave Internet users scan the news and Facebook posts on a daily basis, looking for anything and everything that can outrage and offend them.
NEW! Swallow an instant side of moral outrage!

So what exactly is minute-rage? It’s a little term I invented for that habit people have today of publicly venting about the injustices of the world, or someone else’s view. I’m not talking about protesting societal or political atrocities, or marching for rights or fair pay, or any other form of collective action that is totally called for and which often produces results. Rather, the “minute-rage” to which I refer exists primarily on social media, where it spreads like wildfire.

I know that I’ve sort of given this post a sarcastic undertone, but I can scarcely conceal my amusement at the utter ridiculousness of this phenomenon. It’s made even more funny because the very absurdity of it goes completely over the heads of the perpetrators. We live in a time where people actively look for things to feel outrage over, from click-bait news bytes to things famous people have done; from ignorant messages people receive on Facebook to status updates containing opinions they disagree with. Any one of these things can send a 20-something-year-old Internetgoer into a tailspin, wounded by the perceived unfairness or harshness of something that does not fit neatly into their own worldview.

I won’t name names, but on Facebook alone, I’ve easily read two dozen statuses full of minute-rage within the last few hours. One person deemed another’s behavior on Facebook “insulting”; the status update is seemingly so full of anger, yet when other people comment in agreement with this person, he/she happily reacts to each person’s input. The person is downright giddy that a miniature emotional support system has now been constructed around their status update, helping the person “unpack” the delicate and complex layers of this horrific tragedy he/she has had to deal with.

This leads me to my next point. The person getting all bent out of shape over some shallow, trivial matter that often has nothing to do with them, and which he/she can’t change, is made to feel proud and accomplished from all the “atta boy!” comments and pats on the back. This sort of childish echo chamber messes with that person’s internal reward system, triggering a dopamine release that has the user addicted to all that attention - ironically, while they’re simultaneously complaining about other attention seekers. It’s all part and parcel of the “attention economy,” the bread and butter of social networks, which need to trick their users by granting them feelings of immense self-importance, to keep the flow of nonsense going, whether it be petty online arguments, melodramatics, or other similar nonsense. Remember, this all helps out Facebook’s advertisers, and money is the bottom line.
Atta boy!
But what about minute-rage itself? What is behind it? According to social scientists, it all comes down to self-serving bullshit (I’m paraphrasing - obviously). “Moral outrage” exhibited on social media is a defense mechanism based around self-interest. It’s designed to alleviate personal guilt and make the outraged individual feel like A Very Good Person. Again, the more people who pat that person on the back (which today means giving a Facebook “like” or commenting one’s agreement), the more deeply that feeling of moral superiority is reinforced, and the shinier that Good Guy Badge looks!

There are other culprits behind minute-rage, as well. Perhaps the most glaring one is that “victims” of “moral outrage” often feel powerless in their own lives. They may have lousy jobs (or none at all), they may not have access to health care, they may be marginalized or mistreated, etc. Of course, instead of striving for pride and self-love, and pursuing activities that strengthen one’s intelligence and better one’s life, many of these people (millennials being the worst offenders) opt instead to scan websites looking to rage and cry over all the sheer unfairness of the world! Because, you know, they were never taught as children that the world is not fair, and that wars, crimes, and injustices happen every day. Shocking!

Another reason behind minute-rage is that the perpetrators simply have nothing better to do. God(s)(less) forbid they take up an intellectual or artistic hobby! Don’t get off your lazy ass and take a walk. Don’t put together a puzzle, or play a game, or study and learn something new. Instead, just get into drama on Facebook. Seek out things to fume about, then rant angrily about them, then weep with joy at every “atta boy!” you receive in the comments section below your status update. Sounds healthy, doesn’t it?

So why do I call it minute-rage? Because it only lasts a minute! These nutcases will flip out about some terrible thing some actor did, or an awful death or natural disaster, or a mere differing opinion about music, religion, sports, or politics, and the next minute, they’re posting cute, funny memes or moving on to a brand new thing to be outraged over. As I’ve said once before, people these days are usually juggling about 10-20 different “moral outrages” per day.

Well, you might ask, if it only lasts a minute, it can’t really be true outrage, can it? We’d like to believe so, but people really do get emotional over this shit. I mean, average minute-ragers aren’t just posting something to the effect of, “Hey, guys, check out the news: someone abused an animal today. Terrible.” It’s more like, “I can’t believe this! OMG! I’m crying right now! What kind of world do we live in? People are so cruel and awful! The guy who did this should be strung up and killed!”

Take a deep breath. Now, imagine “crying,” and “fuming,” and “wishing for murder” several times per day, over things that have nothing to do with you and that you have no control over. Who the hell wants to waste their time with all this? It’s just as sick as the person who decided to abuse an animal. And you did this to yourself! No one asked you to read all these articles about all the vile things people do in the world. You could have been watching a documentary, or learning something about history, or taking a walk in the park. Anything! Instead, you sit in front of your computer screen, an emotionally confused mess, wasting your time and killing brain cells by ranting about something that will not change, no matter how much you bellyache over it. It’s a waste of time, a poor use of one’s natural emotion, and, all in all, quite depressing to see.

In closing, bear in mind that this is just some food for thought (minute-rice, not minute-rage!). I would like to make clear that I, myself, am not minute-raging over minute-rage, which would be amusingly ironic. If anything, I find it to be a sort of comical phenomenon. Where the sadness comes in for me is to see people yelling and bawling away their lives with this sort of behavior. There’s got to be a better use for one’s time than to spend it online in a circle-jerk of pseudo-moral superiority. Many of my fellow millennials really do represent a weak and infantile generation, and it really is time to grow up.

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