I have had a really irritating week on the internet.
I realize that yellow journalism has been with us since… well, pretty much since the dawn of journalism. It’s not that I’m not cynical, I just don’t remember it being quite so… pervasive.
I suppose part of it has been the democratization of the medium, the ability gained by functionally anyone with a computer and an internet connection to broadcast their particular spin on events.
I just wish they’d stop spinning so hard.
If there’s one consistent theme in my posts (aside from the awesome aspects of alliteration), I’d like to think it’s the importance of critical thinking.
The problem with critical thinking is that it takes time.
And outrage demands action. It screams, it yells, it stomps its feet and shakes its fist. It tells us to ignore our head and follow our heart.
It lies to us.
This is not to say that outrage does not have its place. In the ship of the mind, passion is the wind in the sails, intellect the steady hand on the tiller. Without passion, the ship sits idle; without intellect, it goes where the wind wills it.
Outrage is a storm, a tempest of the heart and mind that all too often leads to wrack and ruin.
We are living in an age of weaponized outrage, an age where people try to rip the tiller from your hand and send your mind where they want it to go, with half-truths and outright lies, misleading statistics and mangled quotes. They will go to any lengths to shout down the reasonable, drown out the rational, and the absolute last thing they want you to do is stop and think, even for a moment.
They don’t want you looking for the truth. Truth is the enemy of “the message”, because truth does not always fit the narrative.
“The Narrative”. Stop and think about that phrase for a moment.
The narrative, by definition, is a story.
But is it your story? Are those facts you researched, or was the research done for you? Did you form an opinion, or was one thrust upon you? Are you looking for the truth, or are you pushing an agenda?
Whose hand is on the tiller?