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How manufactured outrage is robbing you
Professional observers and reporters are pointing out the social dangers of the Conflict Machine (our escalating political war). Here are two new pieces on the subject.
Mendacious philistines won’t drag me into social media wars
“What the hell am I doing with my life?” wonders Matthew Walther, in The Week.
In observation of the social media aspect of the Conflict Machine, he writes…
In all of these and goodness knows how many other cases… what was being elicited was an intense fury that, upon a moment’s reflection, I realized I did not actually feel. This is not because I do not care about truth or justice or any of the rather grand-sounding words trotted out by online philosophes whenever we do these things, but because even when I squint and see how they enter at least proximately into the incident, it is not clear to me what my being outraged would accomplish. If anything, one suspects that by expressing my own anger, I would be giving tacit assent to the modish outrage that seems to be the only means by which we have public conversations in this country.
Walther is not without remedies
He notes that many in these online wars are arguing for way too many things simply because their team does so, and not because they themselves appreciate it. Maybe you should only speak up for things you really understand and truly care about.
Walther also suggests that not everyone online is arguing in good faith. This led to our favorite line in the piece, “attempt[ing] meaningful adult conversation, which is a bit like trying to convince someone making fart noises that your preferred translation of an 11th-century Japanese court romance is worth reading.”
The Conflict Machine is ruining our shopping habits and tearing the social fabric
J.D. Tuccille, contributing to Reason.com, writes, “Is there anything that politics can’t ruin? The answer, it appears, is a resounding ‘no’ as partisan conflict creeps into all areas of American life. Our political affiliations, researchers say, obstruct friendships, influence our purchases, affect the positions we take on seemingly apolitical matters, and limit our job choices. As a result, many people are poorer, lonelier, and less healthy than they would otherwise be.”
Tuccille cites a 2020 survey indicating “83% of Millennials find it important for the companies they buy from to align with their values” and another 59% of American consumers “will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue.”
This means it’s less about price, utility, and even rational reason that’s guiding consumer decisions. More and more Americans are sacrificing those values to go along with their political echo chambers.
But the damage goes beyond the question of consumers making wise decisions.
Dave Sprott, the author of a journal article that inspired Tuccille’s piece, writes, “Ultimately, polarization harms mental and physical health, financial welfare, relationships and societal interests through its impact on psychology, marketing and public policy outcomes.”
Exit the Machine
The Conflict Machine is a more descriptive label for our politics. The stakes are high. Americans believe they have the ability to coerce others, to force them to live by their values, or pay for stuff they want.
Somebody has to lose those fights. Certainly, we don’t want to end up on the losing side. Therefore, we fight. And the stakes are getting even higher.
Politics ruins everything. But there is an alternative path out of this exhausting conflict. We can lay down our weapons and instead practice…
Human Respect is based on a principle. Happiness and social peace never increase when people are coerced to act against their will, let alone assaulted with violence. It’s as consistent as gravity- interfere with happiness, diminish social peace.
You see the Conflict Machine at work on social media and in boycotts. The social division is obvious. You can escape politics.
First, practice Human Respect. Let it never be said of you that you cheered, let alone voted for, excessive force against others. Governing ‘good and hard’ is never our solution.
Second, adopt a Human Respect value system to create real and lasting social reform. You can do so without changing your liberal or conservative values! Instead of lobbying, or worse, boycotts and social media rants against those who disagree with you, choose trade, charity, mutual aid, voluntary association, and persuasion to make the world a better place.
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Jim Babka is the host of The Exit Network. Joanna Blaine contributed to this piece. Our website is Coming Soon!