|Robin-Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
- A major news story breaks, and everyone is talking about it (e.g., the death of Robin Williams).
- A public figure says something insensitive or otherwise inappropriate about it (e.g., Shepard Smith goes on the air and suggests that Williams was a coward).
- Other media outlets report on what the figure said, with some managing to do a fairly good job of thoughtful reporting and others doing little more than trying to inflame their audience.
- Outrage ensues.
- Other media outlets begin to report on the outrage.
- The public figure who made the insensitive comment apologizes.
- We all move on to the next outrage (perhaps it will be this gem).
But what about the outraged? Why do they continue to participate in this cycle over and over? I think this is the most interesting question and perhaps the most challenging to answer. To some degree, I suspect they do so because they are being effectively manipulated. That is, their buttons are being pressed by people who are damned good at pressing buttons. But it also seems that some delight in the outrage because it feels good to vent one's frustration and attack others when one can feel justified in doing so. Maybe there is something appealing about getting to treat people poorly without feeling any remorse about doing so.
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