Scanning the trending news of the day, one will find stories that are designed to evoke emotions of anger or indignation. Take for instance the semi-recent outrage over Lori Laughlin and her involvement in a nationwide college entrance exam cheating scandal. Without a doubt, her actions were criminal, unfair to others, and she deserved the appropriate lawful consequences. However, the public backlash in the wake of the scandal was a sight to behold.
The public leaped rabidly at the opportunity to unleash their anger – and in many cases, hatred – on Laughlin and the others involved. What we witnessed at the breaking of that story was nothing short of the outworking of addiction to outrage. It did not matter that the issue had nothing to do with the general public. The only thing that mattered was consuming every juicy bit of the story while it was hot and broadcasting their opinion about it for the world to see.
It seems these days whenever someone says or does something even the slightest bit controversial – be it a smear of provocative graffiti or an offhand remark by a politician or celebrity – everyone feels an urge, a compulsion, to say something about it. We seem to feel that publishing our reactions to these things makes us better people, or at least will earn us some time in the spotlight of our little social media circles. We as a culture have become addicted to the outrage. News media and social media are the dealers, and we live for the high they provide us.
How can Christians break out of this addiction to outrage?
Stop passing it on
When you scroll through your daily social media routine and come across a provocative story, slam on the brakes. Don’t share the post. Don’t comment on it. Don’t react to it. Use the opportunity to practice stepping back and away from outrage instead of forward and into it.
This way you will be fighting years of behavior conditioning from news and media outlets you’ve been subject to, and you will be shielding those that follow you from the same thing.
Stop posting your opinion unless it has something to do with you directly
This takes a measure of humility. We have to be honest with ourselves. If something has nothing to do with us, our opinion about it doesn’t matter. No one has to know what we think.
If you feel the urge to post your opinion on the latest outrage, stop for a moment. Why are you doing this?
You may quickly find, as others have, that you crave the feeling that comes when someone responds to your post. You want people to see what you post and interact with it. If you knew no one would react or comment back, you probably wouldn’t post anything. So perhaps what you’re looking for is social interaction – which does not happen through a screen. Back up, take a break from your phone, and go have a real conversation. That may be what you are really craving.
Stop following news entities and people that publish outrage
The best way to deal with outrage addiction is to cut it off at the source. Take thirty minutes and go through the accounts that you follow on social media. You can be as picky as you want, but try to unfollow all the accounts you know that post outrage. This can be news outlets, magazines, gossip accounts, or even personal accounts run by people you know. Don’t be afraid to let go of these things. They only bring negativity and anger to your life.
You can be appropriately informed without having to know every little thing that is happening in the world. As Christians, we want to be able to apply the word of God to any situation, especially those that affect people around us. But we have to be discerning and understand that there is a lot of empty “news” out there that distracts us from loving our neighbor and being examples of Christ.