Internet outrage

I don’t read comments on the internet much. The number one reason for this is that in general, bigotry, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, etc are infuriating. And sadly, that’s what the majority of comments on the internet reflect.

However, there is another motive for quite the opposite reason: even in those websites where I do agree with many of the comments, the pile up of “internet outrage” is disheartening. Take the Polanski case, for instance. Sure, the majority of reasonable and well balanced individuals agree that his going free is a travesty of justice. There isn’t much to discuss about the issue. However, you go to any website where the subject is discussed and it is pages and pages of the same “internet outrage”. The same rhetoric, the same words thrown around until they are practically devoid of meaning. And what changes through “internet outrage”? How does the world become a more just or fair place? How do words like “little girl” or “rape” acquire more meaning? I would argue quite the contrary, I would say that “internet outrage” dilutes the meaning, all these voices saying the same thing from the comfort of their chairs, repeating the same overly emotional arguments, which are not really arguments but just that, emotional responses, do nothing to tackle rape culture and its consequences. A litany is still a litany even if it repeats the words we agree with.

How do we move from “internet outrage” to action and what exactly constitutes action? I am, of course, using the Polanski case just for illustration purposes. The exact same pattern can be applied to almost every other high profile case involving rape or racism or any other reprehensible behavior. Story is published, internet outrage ensues, story fades out, etc. But nothing ever gets the outrage to move into action. It’s just the collection of words and the collective agreement that something bad happened.

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