Addicted to Outrage

Addicted to Outrage


Good morning, John. We’re currently being
visited by a friend and his 6-year-old daughter and I asked her what she would like me to
make my video about today, and she said, “tarantulas in the guacamole.” I’m gonna assume that she means “Let’s talk
about big, stupid, irrational fears”. It’s probably not what she meant, but it feels
like it might be a bit of a stretch to spend the entire video talking about guacamole tarantulas.
So instead, I want to talk about what I think is the most common irrational fear in America
today. And that is the fear that 50% of Americans who surround us are thoughtless, and terrible,
and foolish. Now this fear is every bit as irrational as
thinking there might be tarantulas in the guacamole, but we all seem to believe it.
And I think that this comes from our addiction, our absolute addiction to outrage. Now, I
wanna be clear, I’m not talking about anger at systems of oppression, or frustration at
disenfranchisement, or fear that we are making intractable decisions that are going to have
dramatic and negative consequences for future generations. Those are all completely rational
reasons to be upset. I’m talking about the continuous and unrelenting
cycles of manufactured outrage, really manufactured fear that I, you know, used to be a part of
and I used to encourage. I used to think that outrage was our most powerful tool for positive
change. You had to get people angry, and you had to get ’em up and moving and doing stuff. But what I’ve seen in my 35 years is that
angry people, the stuff they do, is mostly they talk to each other about how angry they
are, and they talk to each other about how wrong other people are, and then every once
in a while they interact with those wrong people and then they just are mean. And everyone does this. Fake statistics get
created and passed around, we burn down straw men and we get to feel good about it, because
we believe, we’ve convinced ourselves that this hatred – and let’s be honest, it’s hatred
– is somehow, like, leading to positive change. But when manufactured outrage is the fuel
with which we fight, we enter into a kind of outrage arms race where the winner of the
election is the one that can terrify its base the most. Now, as I’ve tried to put my own addiction
to outrage in check, I’ve become a lot more sensitive to the people who are out there
pedalling in it, and those people, on both sides, have started to make me feel like super
sick to my stomach, already. So as we enter – far too early – into the 2016 presidential
season, I have already started to figure out ways to build up my armor against the outrage
cycle. This doesn’t just calm me down and, like,
make it possible for me to get up in the morning without being, like, weighed down by all of
the tremendous fear, it also – and I truly believe this – gives me a more accurate understanding
of the world and our country and our culture. Because outrage blinds us, it is built on
and builds bias and stereotypes. It makes people really bad at understanding how society
and other people actually function. So my tools, the ones I’m building, my armor
against the outrage cycle, are awareness of my own cognitive biases, a belief in the fundamental
goodness of other people, that they want good things for themselves and for their families,
and compassion. Those are the things I’m using, if you have strategies for dealing with this,
please let’s talk about that in the comments. In the meantime, I just analyzed the whole
Nerdfighteria Census of 2015 over at Hankschannel and the results were fascinating. Nerdfighteria
has gotten older by three years in the last year, which is weird. We’ve gone from 24%
college graduates to 33% college graduates! People love Crash Course, which is exciting
and the vast majority of respondents have suggested Crash Course to their friends or
people in their family. And people really want us to do some kind
of news show, which after having talked about the current state of “news media,” for the
last few minutes, I’m feeling compelled to do also. But it’s very hard and I don’t know
that we’ll be able to do it, but we’re looking into it, we’ll try to do that thing. So thanks
I’m glad that you would be interested in that. John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

100 comments

  1. My fear is that there is a large percent of the population that is under brainwashing and the narrowing of perspective by mass media to influence political discussion. Project Censored is a bunch of different universities all looking at the manipulation of the media and news stories. The mass media, which is controlled by 6 companies by the way, has censored stories as well as doing things like shift the focus, change emphasis and change perceptive of many stories to fit certain narratives.

  2. I think perhaps a cure for outrage is to listen to each other and look for common ground in our goals rather than focusing on buzz words or assumed positions.

  3. I'm a little disappointed in the false "both sides" narrative Hank is talking about here. It's pretty clear which 'side' engages in fear and outrage mongering as its main political tool. (I'm talking about the party where Donald "Mexicans are rapists" Trump is leading the polls.)

  4. 1:09 to 2:12 is a high point for vlogbrothers, esp. "let's be honest, it's hatred". Hank, I can't think of the last time you expressed so much raw sadness about something! Got me right in the feels.

  5. It's funny how so many antifeminists are complaining that feminists generate fake outrage when I never see any actual feminist fake outrage.
    But you can't throw a pebble without hitting some moron antifeminist generating it.

    They really are nothing but a cauldron of pointless hatred being stirred by…. I don't even know.
    But how does one deal with them?
    They don't listen to reason. Fighting them only makes them louder. And if left to their own devices they don't even need to troll because of how hard they circlejerk.

  6. Not even close to 50% of people are thoughtless and terrible and foolish. It's closer to 90%.
    And no, not aimed at the US, that figure is global.

  7. HERE is my strategy: know this: power causes anger, fear and apathy. Care causes contentment, courage and action. We are in a power culture. We need to create a Care Culture to REPLACE the power culture. Do this by being Caring every day and together our collective efforts will be amplified.

  8. I think the video is brilliant, but the sour face on the thumbnail makes far fewer people watch and like it when shared on social media feeds!

  9. Hank…. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart thank you. I have been mulling over a way to breach a topic of conversation for weeks, and have been stuck, because I don't want my meaning to get lost in the way I convey the message, and this video helped me realize how not to convey said message. As always you and nerdfighteria are made of awesome.

  10. Personally, the best way for me to combat outrage and my fear is to 1. Take a step back and try to see how absolutely pointless it is, 2. Love those who cause outrage even if they don't seem to deserve love or even patience, and 3. My religion helps me a lot, reading the words of Christ or the words of prophets really pushed me to be happy, calm, and loving.

  11. This is so true. This video puts into words something I have been struggling with as well but it still leaves me with questions, particularly: "what, then, is the best way to get people 'up and moving' with regards to social change while avoiding outrage? Outrage is definitely something that I have perceived as negative in my experiences as well, and I really don't want to 'use' it as a tool, so does anyone have any recommendations as to how I can create positive change in our society without the use of anger/hatred?

  12. So you think outrage against imaginary disenfrancshisements and inequalities are not manufactured and artificial? The other side thinks actually exactly like you just the other way around.

  13. The news idea would be interesting. There are all sorts of different ways to approach the task. Youtube is full of channels attempting to do that and each one seams to be a little different. Which in my opinion is actually pretty cool!

  14. Really glad you made this video. I would love to know in more details how you apply those three things because watching our news cycle, which specializes in outrage, it's hard not to adopt that and then move on to being depressed about the current state of the world and America.

  15. The only reliable news i can really find without sifting through tons of crap is phillyD. And while i love his channel, I would love your insights into the world even more.

  16. A lot of what Scishow, Veritasium, Smarter Every Day is say schools need more science. IMHO in addition to this I think the modern schooling system (at the very least) NEEDS to include critical thinking skills. Something like the book by Carl Sagan – A demon haunted world with science as a candle in the dark. (this book has NOTHING to do with witchcraft or evil, its just in the 90s booktitles like the Lucifer Principle were in fashion (another good book which has nothing to do with witchcraft) )

    Every weekend I watch a friend blissfully throw a hundred bucks into a slot machine, and think that was worth every cent. As an outside observer I find this painful. I have my own vices, so I relate. I assume some dopamine or adrenaline is released when they see the next round as striking it big. Possibly its the same with getting 'likes' on facebook?
    Things like facebook and social media, being seen and being pressured to be seen play on psychology. Its more important to have your "like", or comment getting likes.

    People believe anything that they see on facebook, and even moreso if it is emotionally charged.

    Youtube have even more of and issue when it comes to the filter bubble, as well as groups of belief systems based on modern day superstition. There are even complete "help sites" which server to re-enforce their superstitions and paranoia, as well as isolating them from other belief systems and the world.
    In the 90s and 00s it was limited to chain letters.
    These days it ranges from the silly to the extreme.
    One example of silly would be the black and white picture of the guy talking on his cellphone in the 1920s. People will pass this around as evidence and believe it. Of course, this person would have had to have erected a network of microwave towers as well as support systems of computers and cooling systems.. Well before the transistor, or even vacuum tube valves! How these movements get as far as they do is amazing.
    Then there is RedsilverJ/Teamwakeemup — good stuff.
    Then more there are these NiburuX videos etc, aliens taking over and so on. NWO videos etc.

    All a product lack of critical thinking skills, leaning heavily on the imagination as well as emotionally charged presentation.

    A better example would be Cecil the Lion.
    Cecil the lion was a national asset to Zimbabwe (the national park), a dentist wanted THAT lion BECAUSE it was a national asset.
    People's fake outrage was because a lion got shot, and that was bad right!! They are outraged!..
    The reality of the situation is that lions get shot every second day in Africa – so what about all the others? Where's their sympathy?
    Nobody gives a crap, or ever will. All the bigmouths pretending to be "outraged", the ones writing stupid comments about the tragedy of Cecil (not meaning Scishow) are well aware that making a comment expression outrage of all the other random lions being shot, will be the subject of ridicule and derision. So who cares?

    So IMHO, the fake outrage is more about the delusion of online "stardom".

  17. Outrage at being abused is not fear. The difference is time. One is outraged by something that has happened. Outrage is a response.
    Fear is of something that one thinks will (necessarily) happen…and we gotta do something about it NOW! Thus I question if you are not yourself biased by this mistaken concept. Outrage at the nazi death camps is not the same as fear that someone else will do it. Manufactured PC outrage is another question.

  18. Hank touches on something very real and important, but I feel it is rather naïve and ignorant to just be outraged at outrage and think that that will somehow help. People are outraged because they like being outraged. There is a great amount of enjoyment to be had from the feeling of being smart and right and simultaneously improving the world and convincing others of their silly ways all the while being able to sit at home and never having to leave your comfort zone. People engage in this kind of activity not because they're stupid or sheeple, but because they understand that it benefits them on a selfish, personal, individual level. It's an addiction as Hank says, and a pretty potent one at that, so putting a stopper in it would be nothing short of miraculous. I feel it is a fundamental human trait we must live with forever, though that doesn't mean we should let the situation get worse than it needs to.

  19. but what about the police brutality riots? the nsa? the civil war? all these major events were fueled by outrage and have caused huge positive change

  20. I saw an article on this topic not too long ago (within a year), and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. It also contributes to the issue of the forward momentum of our larger species; we are outraged about so many things, we can't get enough effort behind any of them to make real progress. We need to prioritize & conquer using outrage more selectively.

  21. One of my strategies is to zero in on things that I do have significant control over. Like, I can't magically wave my wand and erase hunger in Africa, but I can set up food donation programs to effectively fight hunger in my immediate community (and support other programs helping Africa too, of course!)

  22. Thanks for taking your time to inform people. I think you would do great in journalism. We have too many bias news sources that do not report facts, just their false opinions (fox news)

  23. I have been caught up in the outrage cycle as well. More so when I was younger but it still happens. You brought up this election and I found myself almost on the brink of a panic attack one night because of the collective information I was given on tumblr about one of the candidates. The information was structured in a way to make me angry and scared. And it was continuous because it was on almost every person's blog I follow. How I stopped myself from the panic was I sat down and did my own research. If I cared enough about the topic there is no reason I shouldn't be able to do my own research on it. I made a few excel sheets analyzing the public poll data, looked at the candidates websites, searched for the sources of the tumblr outrage info, so on. It calmed me down a lot.

    Granted, this can't be done with everything. There are some topics that information is scarce on or you don't exactly care enough to do research but you oddly care enough to be outraged. With those topics I'm learning to just be skeptical when things seem too extreme. Anything that makes me go "What the hell?!" I step back and think about the chances of that information being unbias.

    I still get outraged (I blame tumblr haha) but I'm getting much better at nipping it in the bud :3

  24. It makes sense though, doesn't it? From a psychological standpoint, the human mind desires the removal of pain more than the gaining of pleasure. I agree with you that constant negativity is exhausting, but its something we're hardwired to react to. Thinking positively, in reasonable doses, mind you, offers an exciting new perspective to thinking about the world we live in. We're also hardwired to seek out sex, but that doesn't mean its ok to seek it out at all times

  25. it's easier to hate and be outraged at someone else than to be compassionate and empathetic. Wish it wasn't. I make conscious effort to empathize, but sometime it's easy to just burst out in anger instead of trying to connect to each other at an personal emotional level. I am also outraged at the addiction to outrage.

  26. Sometimes, people need a good kick in the bum to capture their attention and get them to care about things they're ignoring. Unfortunately, some of those people never reach the point you're at, where they're able to acknowledge the distinction between righteous outrage and unproductive contempt. We live in an increasingly complicated world in which distraction is easy and action is difficult; the more people we can get motivated towards action, the better. If we can figure out a way to accomplish that without needless fearmongering and hatred, better yet.

  27. I think another really important ingredient to tear down the outrage and overly strong opinions people hold is to accept when one is wrong. It is so so so so so hard to do, because of all the humiliation and stigma that comes with being wrong–especially when one just spent a lot of effort defending what was wrong–but honestly, it's so much more empowering to accept when one was once wrong and to move on. Also, it's important to allow people to change their minds about things, and allow people to move on from when they were wrong.

  28. I agree with you about the uselessness of outrage, and moreover today it is used to suppress political discussion and make news outlets money. Which brings me to a question: Do you really believe that people are basically good? I confess I've never understood that point of view since I've never seen evidence for it. We can look good in times of plenty and easy access to what we want, and a few of us can be good for real, but such goodness is extraordinary – a wonderful miracle. Not the norm.

  29. Oh yeah! I would absolutely if you and John did a news program on youtube, I would get behind it in a big way. My biggest frustration is that I have no idea who to believe, there's so much craziness in the world that logic alone cant help all the time. We need people researching and verifying things so we don't have any doubt. I don't know what to believe anymore, and if anyone can show me again, it's you Hank.

  30. my idea to combat outrage is to i try and remember that Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. I imagine that really wouldn't help most people but for me it reminds me that even the "villains" have a reason, they have justified it inside their own heads. Did that guy i mention earlier do the right thing HELL NO did he think he was yes so what kind of person does that make him? I don't know, maybe he is just really persuasive to the point where he tricked himself too who knows NOT ME maybe he knew ANYWAY even the bad guys can have good intentions.

  31. If you're going to make some kind of news show, could you have a segment that explains political issues where there's bias from both sides and puts the actual facts and first-person data/information out there about both the issue and candidates' positions on those issues, so people can make informed decisions without being pushed to one side or the other? I'm voting for the first time in this election and I don't want to rule someone out as a candidate I might vote for because of false information "against" them or whatever – even with the political bias I already have from my family and everything, I want to start off learning about everyone and see what I personally agree with. Right now I feel like it's going to be really difficult to make an informed, "wise" decision without accurate information about who ACTUALLY stands for what.

  32. Person advocates for reflection, awareness and compassion. Aaaaand people attack him and eachother in the comments. I guess I'm part of it by pointing out how absurd that is….but, it's absurd. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day/evening.

  33. 2:50 "Fundamental goodness". I'm surprised he would believe this. I would have thought he would follow the evidence. If you know anything about history, the evidence shows that humans have the capacity for good and the capacity for the most cruel acts. Hell, the UN only officially banned slavery in the last century.

  34. I think another really helpful tool is curiosity. Really trying to dig in and understand WHY it is that the people on the other side of the fence from you believe what they do. Thinking critically and trying to listen without judgment. Step one is certainly the faith in humanity and compassion that you mentioned, but I find it helps to go one step further by acknowledging that my stance may not be the best one, and that even if I see red flags waving all around someone else's ideology, that there may be nuggets of truth there worth exploring.

  35. I have terrible luck… any channel I watch that does a survey or census always reveals results before I knew it was happening.

  36. Stage one: When you know nothing and are naive enough to think everyone is good and the world is a great place.

    Stage two: You have noticed the world is not a great place and people act bad so you become angry and distrusting of people and the world. You realize that people act good when they are really bad.

    Stage three: You realize that despite you not thinking of yourself as a bad person you at times come off as a bad one, and at times you make the world a bad place for others even if it's for a moment and even if you normally don't act like this. You then realize that most people when acting bad are also acting and outside of that issue, topic, instance, they are good. Good and bad are often very relative and never a complete descriptor of a person's character.

    No matter how right you may seem on an issue and how wrong someone else may be, their perspective might include something you never realized and there could be some truth to even the most irrational haters out there, and even when there isn't you trying to understand why they think what they think is the first step towards changing their mind.

    Always remember the man who single-handedly shut down the KKK in an entire city was a black musician who did so by befriending them, first one through a common interest in music, and then the rest through him. You don't make any difference being angry, you don't make any difference with outrage. When you disagree with someone, no matter the issue, be their friend instead, learn from them and let them learn from you.

    Listen to people, don't preach to them. Don't try to change their mind. Don't try to change them at all. You can't change someone's mind by trying to. They must do it themselves and you can only help by showing them that you care, what you care about, why, while also caring about what they think.

    Internet outrage is a joke. It is to be mocked. It never does any cause good. More minds are turned against the causes people take up hashtags for than for them. When you draw a line in the sand and stand on one side shouting angrily, people want to be on the side that has less shouting because it seems more welcoming.

  37. 3:35 "news media" is right, when people are forming entrenched political views based on tabloid infotainment you know you're in for a bad time.

  38. I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Mostly because it gets old convincing Republicans that racism is still real etc. I'm not about to act like their thoughts are as sensible as mine.

  39. Please make a non biased news channel, If there is anyone I could trust to talk about current events without a heavy political bias it would be you and your brother. I might feel like I actually know whats happening in the world around me. If the channel gains a lot of traction you may even increase the number of moderate voters in America. You and your colleagues are in the unique position to shape, not just America, but any country that has access to Youtube. Don't waste the opportunity.

  40. Outrage can surely inspire action but so can also a lot of other more gentle feelings do, without clouding ones judgement.

  41. "The winner of the election is the one that can terrify its base the most" – I've never seen a better description of our current election cycle.

  42. I found the person I thought was the most diametrically opposed to every belief and idea I had and became close friends with them while talking about the stuff instead of ignoring it.

  43. I dunno man. seems to me hank is addicted to manufactured outrage himself by supporting the one person who makes a living manufacturing the stuff from scratch.

  44. Thank you for this! Once again you have come up in my feed at a time when I felt your message was sorely needed.

  45. Most things stop being outrageous once you spend 5 minutes researching them. Unfortunately, the attention span of the average "outrager" is only equal to the time that it takes to read a tweet, read a clickbait title or watch the video of a moral crusader.

  46. I am absolutely outraged that this manufactured anger has affected so many people. I will never allow this to infect me, and I shall talk about this with others who agree with me and occasionally to people who don’t.

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