Winning The Online Outrage Olympics


By ADAM EARNHEARDT

acearnheardt@ysu.edu

Being in a bad mood is not a good look for me. I know this because my wife and kids call me “Shrek” when I get grumpy.

Imagine a comical, ogre-like guy stomping around the house, letting out the occasional “hrumpf” with a frown, smoke coming from his ears. Although my bad moods are rare, that’s what I look like on a bad day.

Maybe you know someone who resembles these features.

It used to be that if I wanted the rest of the world beyond my home to share in my gloom, I’d turn to social media. Misery loves company, and there’s lots of miserable company on social media.

Of course, those days are gone. I learned my lesson. Heeding the advice I’ve shared in past columns, I steer clear of social media on bad days.

It’s easy to understand the allure of social media for sharing angry thoughts. After all, no one really wants to be angry. It doesn’t feel good. So, some claim benefits to posting melancholy moments online. Some users claim they get a therapeutic-type release from publically posting their rants.

If this is true—that posting rants provides relief—what was the outlet for our “relief” before social media? Certainly we had some other venue for sharing our dark days.

The truth is, when we wanted to vent pre-social media, we talked to our family. We called our friends. Some of us wrote in diaries or we penned letters to local papers or political leaders.

We’ve also become a nation obsessed with winning the Online Outrage Olympics, or the OOOs as I like to call them (pronounced “ohhhs,” as in “Oh no! Not another rant!”).

Never heard of the OOOs? It’s a battle to see who can be the most ticked off on the hot-button, social-political issue of the day. There are no rules, but there are many judges. There are no visible boundary lines marking the social media court, but if you go outside of the lines, some will tell you.

There are no medals.

There are no ceremonies.

There are no winners.

Maybe some social media users will be outraged by my take on their bad moods. I suspect they’ll take to their favorite platform to express their displeasure.

I hope they don’t, but if they do, get ready for the next OOOs.

Rather than preparing for the next Outrage Olympics, we should remember take time to breath and cool down. Sharing our thoughts offline with those closest to us is probably a bit more therapeutic than sharing our rage on Facebook.

You might not look as silly as me (i.e., Shrek), but I challenge you to find anyone who looks good in a bad mood.

No one looks good in a bad mood.

We look worse when share those bad moods online.

  • Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

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