Are we addicted to outrage? Specifically, manufactured outrage?
I think there’s something to what he’s saying.
Mulling over this and more, it seems to me that people are socialized to not feel too deeply or passionately – we tell people who are upset to “Control yourself!”; we call people Drama Queens when they show their upset frequently (and in certain other cases). No, we must control our emotions and not let them control us – sound familiar? These are the messages we get, over and over again.
But we’re emotional creatures: we must emote. So we control when we expose ourselves to things that might make us lose control to times that are acceptable: when we’re at home, alone, perhaps, for one person, or when we’re surrounded by close loved ones, for another person (or another emotion). The rest of the time, we need to be able to experience emotions in a shallower way, to change gears readily.
As for emoting anger and outrage, it’s easier to shift away from outrage about something that’s been manufactured than it is about something closer to home. I think many people latch onto manufactured outrage because of this.
I think this, too, is why depressing fictional stories (books, movies, television shows, plays, etc) are so wildly popular, too. People latch onto the manufactured sorrow so that they can have something that’s a shallower experience – we all desperately need every emotion, but they won’t let themselves be sad for real. When it’s your own real life, you’re supposed to tell yourself it’ll get better, that bad things don’t happen to good people, that it can’t stay this bad forever, and so on – and we’re socialized to eschew those who don’t. When it’s a fictional story or someone else’s story, you can experience that pain and sorrow deeply, but in the fleeting way that our society demands.
Then you can spring right back to your happy-go-lucky default state that we’re all supposed to be in, a smile on your face, troubles of the world forgotten in a heartbeat – or at least stuffed down to where ever they’re supposed to be shoved.