The instability and unpredictability of our current climate makes it hard to forgive the intolerabilities of our days, and sometimes even more challenging to understand what must be done to affect positive change. So, we dwell in our outrage. Unfortunately, our outrage is futile and has exhausted us to the point of ineffectiveness. Yet, we often accept our anger as an adequate response to the things we find unacceptable and believe that if we remain outraged, we’re engaged. We flood social media with our discontent as we vent and rant and believe we’re doing our part to combat the injustices we witness daily.
The outrage we dispel and congest social media with does little more than perpetuate the anger of others and reverberate their rage. We’ve spread ourselves thin by being all-consumed by the daily deluge of unfathomable news stories that dishearten and disturb us. Our merited outrage exhausts our energies leaving us ineffective in making positive change, and keeping us perpetually unhappy, wiped out, and disenfranchised. When all our energy is invested in our outrage, we fail to use our frustration as fuel for actionable efforts to foster change and ameliorate the issues over which we have real control.
We use social media for little more than a resting place for our frustrations to fester. Our repetitive release of outrage on these platforms offers no real resolve and keeps us from taking action in the real world. It’s the modern-day version of screaming in the car. However, instead of crying alone, we’re releasing our lamentations to an audience of fellow malcontents. The outrage we express is a cop out to qualitative action.
We’re guilty of lambasting on social media, but we’re also terrible at saying “no.” We feel compelled to be involved in everything and obligated to show up for everyone. We over-commit and underperform. Our energies are diluted, and our effectiveness weakens. To be effective, we can’t allow ourselves to engage in everything. We can stay informed and knowledgeable and still focus our attention and commit to areas that we’re able to make a valuable contribution to and not simply be a warm body at a table or another angry constituent preaching to her echo chamber on social media.
It’s time to get off social media, learn to say “no,” and start capitalizing on our strengths, communities and direct connections. This may mean focusing more on micro-level concerns than macro-level concerns and using our energy to instigate small change rather than sustained outrage. We can’t tackle every issue, so rather than wrap ourselves in anxiety and stress by expressing our widespread frustration, we should dial in on the issues that are in our wheelhouse. We can’t do something about everything, certainly not merely through outrage, but we can direct our energy towards efforts in one or two key areas to which we are committed. When we aren’t depleted by outrage, or spread too thin from over-committing, we can make small yet significant ripples of change on a micro-level that will culminate into major waves of change on a much larger scale.
Danz is an avid runner, reader and writer. She’s a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead who lives, works and believes in downtown Fargo. She is a regular contributor to The Forum's opinion pages.