Fighting injustice, tweet by tweet
Oscar nominations were announced Thursday, and odds are you heard more about who wasn’t nominated than who was.
Welcome to our Rage Economy.
These days there’s something new to be angry about every day, and social media has turned into a place where we openly — and endlessly — gripe about the perceived injustice or the major offense of the day, angrily thumbing keystrokes in the hopes of reaping the benefits of social currency (Retweets and Likes, mostly).
Negativity or snark scores higher on social media than positivity or compliments, which is why Twitter activity during awards shows skyrockets with comments about who looked stupid, that stupid thing that stupid celebrity said or how stupid the whole enterprise is. (It’s not stupid enough to stop us from watching and offering up a stream of commentary for three-plus hours, but that’s another story.)
Outright anger rates even higher, so when we encounter something that can be considered offensive, Twitter lights up like a slot machine that just hit the jackpot.
That’s where the Rage Economy kicks in.
This week it peaked when, despite its Best Picture nomination, “Selma” was perceived as being robbed during the Oscar nominations. Before that it was Jeremy Renner making an offhand sexual remark toward Jennifer Lopez at the Golden Globes. (He referred to her breasts as “globes.” The horror!)
Prior to that, people were aghast at kids tweeting they didn’t know the English fellow featured on Kanye West’s new single — it’s Paul McCartney — even though many of those original comments were made in jest. Before that it was something else, tomorrow it will be something new. The Rage Economy is in no danger of slowing down.
Our social rage has become so predictable that in 2014 Slate charted what we were angry about every day of the year and released its findings under the header “The Year of Outrage.” Looking back at the brouhaha of the day, every day, it’s ridiculous how disposable most of what everyone got worked up over was.
Remember being upset that Best Buy’s Twitter account made an insensitive reference to “Serial?” How about the time “How I Met Your Mother” included a sequence based on Asian stereotypes? Or when people thought Kanye West — a favorite target among the Rage Tweet set — was mocking a fan in a wheelchair during a concert?
People tweeted their anger, but were they really all that upset? Or are we in the habit of feigning offense at these things because we think we’re somehow supposed to be offended by them?
It is easier to complain about something than it is to be complimentary. This is especially true online, which is why the majority of comments sections on websites are hate-filled cesspools.
And it’s why the Rage Economy prevails. Social media makes us feel connected, and sharing our rage is an easy way to to get attention, especially since we’ve entered an unparalleled era of maximum sensitivity. We point out any disturbances to our collective consciousness and shame the wrongdoers in the public square, virtual though it may be. It’s political correctness run amok.
The truth is there is plenty to be upset about in the world, from the still-simmering racial tensions in our country to terrorist attacks around the world to the officiating in that Lions-Cowboys playoff game.
Yet, perhaps these issues are too big to tackle. And so these trivial ones are the ones we focus on, as the Rage Economy rages on one tweet at a time.