I finally reached my limit. Tim Miller writes in the New York Times today:
Can we ever know the full effect that years of emails, texts, Facebook ads and viral Twitter ads with doom-driven fund-raising appeals have had on the average voter’s conception of the country and politics?Online Fund-Raising Was Supposed to Save Politics. Instead, It’s Dragging Us to Hell.
This was one of the many drivers that caused me to start looking at this outrage porn problem. Campaign emails, social media, cable news, it’s everywhere – and it’s exhausting. I came to a point where it was too much and rather than blindly rage-tweeting I needed to step back.
The paper, Hate Trumps Love: The Impact of Political Polarization on Social Preferences finds that outgroup-hate is now stronger than ingroup-love in society and outgroup-hate plays a bigger role than ingroup-love in terms of interactions and behavior, to the extent that harming someone in the outgroup is perceived as acceptable and appropriate.
I believe constant outrage porn, on both sides, has contributed to today’s extreme polarization. And I’m starting a podcast to explore it, called Outrage Overload. From the website:
the outrage machine has been too successful, like the dog that caught the bus. We’ve been telling ourselves the other side is “evil” and now we believe it. Like a drug addiction, the outrage purveyors had to keep turning up the volume and now they have created a monster where there is no room for anything but outrage, no room for real arguments, the kind of healthy arguments that are needed to achieve anything, even within a given party, to say nothing of across party lines. Further, it’s damaging our mental well-being. The baseline of constant and chronic outrage, a persistent background level, weighs on us, creating constant stress and anxiety individually and on society as a whole.
It’s not good for us.
I’m not the expert, but I want to know more and learn what we can do. Join me on this journey of discovery, as I talk with experts across psychology, social science, as well as faith and community leaders. It will be an entertaining and enlightening ride.