We are increasingly bombarded by the political use of the tactic of outrage. And it is easy to be outraged because there are so many stupid or unjust things being done that evoke outrage. Outrage is the meat and potatoes of right wing talk radio potentates like Limbaugh and Hannity, and of the left wing rags such as CNN and USA Today among others. After all “outrage” sells, and sales means money.
So many stupid and unjust things are being done on all sides, that one could easily come to the conclusion that they are done deliberately and with a view and intent of creating outrage that can be manipulated and exploited. Having lost a collective moral bearing where everyone does what is right in their own eyes, what did we expect?
But how long can a continuous string of outrage be maintained? The outraged mob runs from one outrage to another, figuratively lynching the perceived offenders, then off to the next outrage and lynching. What’s worse is some offenders probably do need “lynching” figuratively not literally, but as with a good part of vigilante activity, due process and careful sorting out of the facts gets brushed aside in a rush to judgement.
And it is also true that a continuous torrent of outrage over this and that and whatever eventually takes a toll on the emotions and psyche of a society and culture. The constant arousal of collective emotions of rage begins to dull the collective conscience. Collective emotional batteries run low and there becomes less and less energy to sustain the “good fight”.
At some point comes the real possibility of a collective cardiac arrest.
What happens then?