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Is social media outrage a positive force in society?
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Social media outrage dilutes real issues

The ending of Game of Thrones can prompt as much outrage as a school shooter.
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Outrage has always been a powerful social force for the betterment of society. Public outrage provided a deterrent for immoral behaviour. It encouraged people to behave in an acceptable way or face social ostracism. However, social media outrage is trivializing outrage and in the process, it is robbing us of the ability to condemn truly abhorrent acts. [1]

The Argument

Outrage spread rapidly across social media when Jennifer Lawrence made a joke about rape, Macklemore wore an outfit deemed anti-Semitic, Peter Rabbit allegedly bullied those with allergies [2] and Raven-Symone's false claims about her racial heritage. [3] Social media has made the act of expressing outrage far easier. It is much easier to show disgust in a few clicks than confronting someone to their face. In doing so it has lowered the bar for outrage. In doing so, it has robbed society of the ability to distinguish disagreeable acts, from truly abhorrent digressions. When everything is deemed worthy of a social media backlash, essentially nothing is.[1] The language of outrage ceases to convey the appropriate horror at acts such as genocide and torture when the very same language is used to decry those that order a cheeseburger with dijon mustard but no ketchup.

Counter arguments

Social media outrage is changing the way anger and outrage in society functions. Posts calling out someone for eating fried chicken "incorrectly" with a knife and fork may use the same language as those that denounce more abhorrent transgressions. But in the new world where moral outrage is primarily expressed online, language becomes less important. Now, it is not the language behind the outrage that is important, but the number of people partaking in the outrage. For example, posts expressing outrage over the racial bias of the police published under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag may invoke the same language as those calling out minor offences, but the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag accumulates more than 17,000 tweets a day.[4] Social media outrage does not rob us of the ability to express outrage at genuinely heinous acts. It just requires us to look beyond the language and place greater emphasis on the size of the outrage. In the era of social media, the level of outrage does not come from the message itself, but the volume at which it is being shouted.


[P1] Social media outrage makes it easier than ever to express outrage. [P2] Therefore, more people express outrage about smaller things. [P3] They use the same language to express outrage about minor transgressions as major moral atrocities. [P3] This robs us of the ability to express genuine outrage when it is necessary.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 20 Jan 2020 at 10:18 UTC

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