Archive | December, 2013

Advice on Coping With “Outrage Fatigue”

31 Dec

Are you feeling listless? Disinterested? Apathetic? Are you incapable of forming a concrete, unshakable conviction at the polar extremes of any debate? Then you may be suffering from Outrage Fatigue.


Outrage Fatigue? What’s that?

Outrage Fatigue (known in the medical world as OF – pronounced “Oh Eff”, not… you know… “of”) affects up to 80% of people at any given time, and the evidence suggests it’s on the increase. Its main cause is thought to be “a constant bombardment of images and words via social media streams designed specifically to make you angry about something”, and symptoms include:

  • Feeling distinctly unmoved by even the most horrific of news stories
  • Treating all authority figures – be they politicians, scientists or academics – with nothing but contempt (usually attaching the words “so-called experts”)
  • Lazily appointing a celebrity as the spokesperson for your way of thinking. (See Brand, Russell; Norris, Chuck.)
Neither of these things should have happened.

Neither of these things should have happened.

But how do I know if have Outrage Fatigue?

To experience OF, you must first experience genuine (or even mild) Outrage, over something you’ve seen via a link that’s “doing the rounds” on Facebook or Twitter. This can include shaky, mobile phone footage of some Chinese bloke stamping on a puppy, unverified reports of homophobic incidents from around the world, graphs showing how climate change will destroy the planet, other graphs showing how it won’t, blog posts about how evil bankers have brought about the apocalypse and histrionic, anecdotal stories about Muslim attitudes to Remembrance Day and/or Christmas.

"They're trying to ban Christmas! By... umm... wearing... Santa hats?"

“They’re trying to ban Christmas! By… umm… wearing… Santa hats?”

What are the symptoms of Outrage?

Symptoms of Outrage vary wildly, from tutting and shaking your head and saying, “Typical” before hitting the “share” or “retweet” buttons, to “liking” a page dedicated to resolving the issue raised by said link.

How does Outrage lead to Outrage Fatigue?

The human brain is designed to cope with only so much Outrage at any given time. Scientists believe it may only be possible to feel genuinely angry about three or four things simultaneously, so that the demands placed on it by social media force some issues out, replacing them with others. For instance, until August of 2013 you may have been particularly concerned by the ongoing crisis in Darfur, or the plight of the Falun Gong community in China, but these concerns will have been ousted by your splenetic rage over Miley Cyrus’s “twerking” performance at the VMAs.

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Alternatively, your heartfelt anger at the bankers and the banking system that brought about financial collapse in 2008 will, no doubt, have since dissipated, and is dwarfed by your horror at the continuing success of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

But what can I do?

If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from Outrage Fatigue, we advise the following:

  • Ignore most links shared on Facebook or Twitter. These are often a gateway to Outrage, which is a major – indeed, the only – cause of Outrage Fatigue.
  • When reading an online news story, stop reading at the point when the person responsible for the story, article or opinion piece stopped writing. Do not, under any circumstances, read the comments.
  • If an online news story – or even a YouTube video – makes you angry, ask why it makes you angry. Pause to consider all angles on the story, including the inevitable bias of the person presenting the story itself. Form an opinion based on nuance. Alternatively, if you feel you don’t fully understand the context, don’t rush to form an opinion. There is no law stating that you have to have an opinion about everything.
  • Reducing the number of subjects you feel you have to care about, and focusing more on those that are important to you, will dramatically reduce the likelihood of you suffering from Outrage Fatigue. From now on, any outrage you experience will be both genuine and rare, and may even prompt you to act on it in the real world.

5 Predictions for 2014

23 Dec

And so 2013 comes to a close, ending much like one of those Sundays you have in your early 20s, when you hit the sack as others are sitting down for breakfast and crawl out of bed when it’s dark and almost time for you to crawl back in again. It’s gone quickly, is what I’m saying. Even so, I’ll now attempt to see into the future and tell you 5 things we have waiting for us in 2014.

1) TV

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The biggest show on TV in 2014 will be Gogglebox+, a spin-off from the popular Channel4 show, in which the viewer is given the choice to watch one of up to 100,000 different families watching Gogglebox, including their own. The show will begin as a red button option, before being commissioned as its own interactive web series. Things will reach a postmodern event horizon when, via a multi-screen option, those participating in Gogglebox+ can watch the regular characters from Gogglebox watching them watching Gogglebox+.

2) Pop Music

Pop Music

2014 will be the year when, in a bold, empowering move that demonstrates her maturity and bravery as an artist, a teenage female pop star whose songs are written and produced by men in their 30s will participate in a live donkey show at the VMAs. The ensuing opprobrium will be aimed entirely at the pop star and not at the men who organised and choreographed the routine.

Meanwhile, French producer and songwriter David Guetta will be arrested, in November, accused of taking out a contract on the life of Pharrell Williams. Lawyers for the prosecution claim that Guetta wanted to end “for once and for all” Williams’s tireless campaign to “wrestle RnB back from the clutches of very boring, unimaginative white men”. In December, officers involved in the investigation begin questioning Calvin Harris for his role in the alleged plot.

3) Movies

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Following the announcements that both Batman and Wonder Woman will appear in the sequel to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Warner Bros announce that the following characters are also to feature in the movie: The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batgirl, Bizarro, Nightwing, Plastic Man, Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Incredibly, despite the project’s prestige, the producers struggle to find a writer willing or able to cram all these characters into a coherent story write the screenplay for this as-yet-untitled film.

4) Celebrities

Jamie Box

Following his appearance on next year’s hit TV show, The Know-Nothings (a documentary following a group of people who quite literally know nothing), next year’s biggest and best-paid celebrity will be fitness instructor Jamie Box from Chester. Box, 22, thinks that the capitol of France is Germany, and that whenever he goes to the cinema the actors in the film he’s watching are performing the film live. In September 2014 he garners his 14,000,000th follower on Twitter and publishes volume 3 of his autobiography before being named as Claudia Winkleman’s replacement on Film 2014.

5) Politics

Russell Brand

Voter apathy increases, after Russell Brand reveals – at a press junket to publicize his slapstick remake of Gandhi – how the previous change in government had little-to-no impact on his 8-figure bank balance. This shock revelation, coupled with the fact that Brand has enjoyed continuous employment for the last 10 years, leads those earning almost 1,000 times less than him and still struggling to find or hold on to a job, to believe voting makes no difference whatsoever. As a result, the only people intending to vote in 2015 will be those who fall outside his fan demographic, i.e. anyone roughly the same age or older than Andrew Sachs. Gearing up for the 2015 election, all of the major parties will announce harsher penalties on the young (loss of housing benefit for the under 40s, a pension age of 97 for anyone born after 1990) and a holiday in the Bahamas and endless repeats of Lovejoy on GOLD for the over 65s.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage will appear on the BBC no fewer than 946 times, including – thanks to the wonder of computerized visual effects – two separate appearances on a single episode of Question Time.

Nigel Farage, Ukip