The problem isn’t just that the constant diet of outrage has a negative impact on our mental health, which it certainly does. It’s much worse than that. Sure, it makes us angry, but worse, it erodes trust, and can create a sense of moral superiority and othering. It’s a misrepresentation of reality that we actually find addicting. It’s a downward spiral of hate and resentment that makes it difficult to have productive conversations, at best, and can lead to violence at worst. Outrage, and our addiction to it, represents a grave threat to democracy. We find it easy to see this in others, particularly those on the “other side”, but difficult to see it in ourselves.
Outrage is an organizing tool. But when we’re overloaded, it creates confusion, the true enemy of democracy. Accusations and confusion destroys the ability to coordinate. It destroys trust. When people are confused, they are less likely to be able to work together effectively. We don’t know who to believe. We can’t solve problems. All we can do is be outraged.
But what if I told you that there is hope? Amidst the chaos, there are emerging voices offering ideas on how we can improve our relationship with the outrage machine.
Tobias Rose-Stockwell is our guest for this episode. His brand new book is
How Tech Amplifies Discontent and Disrupts Democracy—And What We Can Do About It
Together, we’ll examine the historical context of societal stability and the shifts that have led us to this current climate of anger and polarization. We’ll explore the role of media, including social media platforms, in fueling outrage and examine the consequences it has on our mental health and social fabric.
So, if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the constant stream of outrage, or if you’re simply curious about the impact it has on our society, this episode is for you.
Tobias Rose-Stockwell is a writer, designer, and technologist whose work has been featured in The Atlantic, WIRED, NPR, The BBC, CNN and many others. His research has been cited in the adoption of key interventions to reduce toxicity and polarization within leading tech platforms. He previously led humanitarian projects in Southeast Asia focused on civil-war reconstruction efforts, work for which he was honored with an award from the 14th Dalai Lama. He lives in New York City.
Tobias Rose-Stockwell: https://tobias.cc/
Outrage Machine book: