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Outrage Fatigue

“Outrage Fatigue”

It’s not a new state of being for me, just one that has been ratcheted up and is eclipsing my other states (like joyous, content, or petty). Each day brings a new flood of upsetting news or spotlights a previously unknown/ignored injustice. As the news grows and the Twittersphere reaches a fever pitch I begin my regular pattern. First I absorb the news greedily, reading every relevant article and perhaps ordering a book or two on the subject to satiate my newfound curiosity that is fueled by moral outrage. If time allows I’ll then explore increasingly niche podcasts to become familiar with this new evil. As my confidence in speaking about the subject increases I adopt the role of prophet, denouncing the evils of my day and making clear the coming consequences of inaction. If a new outrage has not yet supplanted the current one I will eventually spend awhile in the final phase: Activist. Here I will sign petitions, attend meetings, or march in solidarity with those who are oppressed.

Eventually gravity will take hold and the realization that these activities are not sustainable will set it. I’m stretched too thin and time and energy are finite. Burn-out is high and the work to be done is dizzying. What then is one to do? Succumb to the fatigue? Drink wine and watch Netflix? Engage in performative woke-ness to feel better about my overall inability to affect real change?

I’ve got no answer for today, but perhaps it will come tomorrow. For now I’m having a glass of wine and mulling it over.