Why internet outrage and triggering keeps growing

There is a lot of hypersensitive rhetoric in online discussion groups, and it has gotten worse over the years.

Human beings were never meant to have so much stimulation. The amount of entertainment, news, discussion, texts, and marketplace activity is extremely high and comes at everyone so fast compared to how all of that happened 30 years ago. We humans can’t handle it. The constant dings to our psyche from people’s “joys and sorrows”, news media, “professional” discussion groups, social obligations in the form of “likes”, “engagement”, “support”, “comments”, etc. are ridiculous.

The addictive nature of trying to keep up is general knowledge at this point, but people aren’t doing anything about it. They could be hurt and “triggered” much less if they would prune, bypass, ignore, or not engage. Because people are worn down and hurting, every new slight and negative morsel causes worse pain than before. So then they cry out for trigger warnings, content advisories, and hyper-correctness, which humans in general cannot deliver 100% of the time. People were not perfectly appropriate 1000, 100, or 10 years ago, and they still haven’t perfected themselves since the internet swallowed our civilization whole.

Thirty years ago we had offensive talk radio, we had magazines of every kind in the supermarket, we had letter-writing, phone calls, in-person meetings, parties, and marketplace encounters. Any of these could contain something psychologically hurtful, but the frequency with which we were injured was much lower. There was the ability to recover, reflect, gain perspective, possibly remediate, and move on. There is no time to recover now, if you believe you have to keep up on social media.

If you are a go-getter entrepreneur, you may be in a dozen or more Facebook or Reddit groups, posting to Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook live, constantly encountering, linking to, and creating “content” (What the hell is content anymore?) according to the proper algorithms to be in the game as it’s currently defined. The algorithms may be correct, but at what human cost? Are you really OK handling all of that from now until you retire? Does it feel like living a complete life when many hours a day are spent on the Outrage Machine?

When you are already injured, you get hurt more easily. Millions of people are embroiled in these internet forums, bleeding and hurting. Misunderstandings, mistakes, and ignorance have a much greater effect on hurt people. Without time to heal, assumptions about human nature plummet along with the friendliness of the discourse.

Find a way to take breaks (or get out completely, radical!) and pace yourself, or you will continue collecting triggers and outrage, because the wounded hordes (including you?) will keep demanding more accommodations, when what they really need is to get off the hamster wheel and get some therapy, or maybe take up gardening or reading books with the phone and computer turned off. Human nature cannot sustain all this “engagement” at this level without being really screwed up.

We are definitely screwed up.


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