Now Michelle Shocked Is on Yahoo! News, Because That's What Internet Outrage Does

Categories: It's 2013


The Internet is a perfectly efficient outrage generator. People need things to be super-pissed about so that they can express their social positions to their friends; they burn through that outrage in an orgy of vague, well-intentioned social media protest; they look for something else to be super-pissed about, having become, by now, pissed off generally. It's perpetual motion, only the product is cause-based Facebook memes instead of energy. Now Michelle Shocked, who was not even in the alt-weeklies weeks ago, is sitting between American Idol recaps and Taylor Swift TV cameos on Yahoo! Music because she hates gay people or maybe doesn't.

It's been a terrible couple of weeks to be Michelle Shocked, but it's probably been a great two weeks to be her back catalog. That's a problem, maybe.

It's not a problem that any one person got angry about Michelle Shocked's comments, but it's a phenomenon we're going to have to deal with, as a culture that's grown to love being furious.

There are two sides to it -- the first is that when something like this goes viral, you're giving it a platform it wouldn't otherwise have. Ten years ago, a rant like Shocked's would have reached the people at the show, their friends, and whoever read the subsequent alt-weekly exposé about it. Now Michelle Shocked is probably more famous than she's ever been, such as it is.

The second problem with our new addiction to hate-hating is that we're getting all these viral moments that weren't being transmitted before. This is the insidious problem. The first issue is just a bunch of new McDonald's franchises opening up, so that more people we don't know can each have one Big Mac.

This one is as though a McDonald's has opened up right behind our house, and every couple of hours, if we want, we can get the Big Mac that used to be a once-a-week guilty pleasure. The world is almost certainly less racist, sexist, homophobic, Tumblr-cause-ist than it has ever been, whether that's faint praise or not. But the Internet allows us to hook ourselves up to a carefully curated drip-feed of all manner of bigots. It's never been so easy to be Mad As Hell and Unable to Take It Anymore -- just follow the right people on Twitter.

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Good article about the Internet-outrage phenomenon which I agree is unhealthy. But I think the last couple of paragraphs oversimplify things. I don't think people are treating Michelle Shocked (for example) as a dehumanized object. She would not be on Piers Morgan if people did not want to hear her explanation of her comments. I was a big fan (a long time ago) and yes I was outraged when I first saw the headlines. But I also wanted to know what she had to say about it.

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