I am exhausted by outrage, exhausted by it. Also bored of it and a little bit depressed by it.
Outrage greets me when I wake up in the morning and turn on the news. It’s on my car radio on the way to work and in the conversations I hear and read throughout the course of the day. Outrage has turned into our collective default attitude, a fickle, fleeting reaction we turn to at the slightest provocation.
We are outraged at NFL players, at Donald Trump, at Justin Trudeau and Stephen McNeil, at the rising cost of living and emergency room wait times, and on, and on, and on.
We are also outraged at restaurants not letting kids in, and Kim Kardashian’s photo shoots, and personalized license plates, and other things involving people we don’t know that will have absolutely no affect on our lives whatsoever aside from showing up on our computer screen for a few minutes.
While many issues merit our concern, the importance of those is often lost in our demonstrations of righteous anger, expressions of disgust, and public hysterics. (In researching examples for this piece, I was able, in less than 30 seconds, to find a Facebook post with comments like, “call CBC, get the media involved” and “speak to a lawyer, they’re not allowed to do that, you can sue.” The post was about a cafeteria removing garlic fingers from the lunch menu.) We are living in hyper-sensitive times and some of our outrage leans toward the petty.
The massacre in Las Vegas really puts everything in perspective, doesn’t it? Can we really reconcile being outraged by something Kanye West says or by a bad customer service experience when we live in a world where 59 people were killed and 527 injured in 10 minutes at a concert by a gun-toting murderer?
A better question might be, can we reconcile constantly being outraged at minor inconveniences when the world is plagued by preventable tragedies that no one is doing anything about?
I am suffering from outrage fatigue. Enough. I’m calling a one-sided, one-woman truce. This week, and especially in light of such horrible disasters like hurricanes that leveled half the Caribbean and the worst mass shooting of my lifetime, I’m going to tell you about good news stories, instead.
Did you hear about Deshaun Watson? He’s a quarterback from the Houston Texans who donated his first NFL pay cheque to three women who prepare his team’s meals every day. The food service workers had lost cars and homes during Hurricane Harvey. As a kid, Watson’s family was the recipient of a home through Habitat for Humanity, so this was his way of giving back to people he appreciated who found themselves in a tough spot.
Another good story: Pitbull, a rapper from Miami, sent his private plane to Puerto Rico to bring cancer patients to the United States for chemo treatment. He also continues to send regular shipments of relief supplies, all out of the public eye.
And in the chaos of the Las Vegas shooting, stories about selfless acts are already coming to light. There was a young soldier who threw himself on top of a woman in the line of fire, even shielding her eyes from the carnage around them. There are also countless stories of people, some wounded themselves, rushing back into the confusion to help other people get to safety. And, as always, let’s not discount the tremendous efforts of the first responders who professionally and compassionately managed an impossible situation.
Every time something bad happens, this conversation comes up, that there is more good in society than there is bad, and that the human spirit will always prevail.
But in order for that to be true, we have to make it true. We have to stop complaining about the only-momentarily-relevant issues and concentrate on the important ones that will make or break us.
Stand up to people making racist remarks. Call your representatives and demand more local doctors. Buy a Christmas turkey for someone who needs it and never tell anyone. Vote. Do concrete things that will make the world better.
And if you’re going to complain, complain about something meaningful to the whole of society, and complain to someone who can help – don’t just unload a self-involved rant about an insignificant issue to a bunch of strangers on a vitriolic message board and then wonder why nothing changes.
The sooner people start to point their outrage in the right direction, the better off we’ll all be.