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