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  • Monday, October 30, 2006


    The Death of Outrage: Narrowing Options

    One thing I notice when I read the history of popular protests and movements in this country is the passion and the outrage that forces people into the streets to voice their protest and gives them the courage to put their bodies on the line for their beliefs. Protests still go on today but their message is often muted and hidden by the mass media.

    Mostly, I blame the internet.

    Bloggers are enamoured and dazzled with the power of owning their personal press and soapbox. (I most definitely include myself in this statement.) This is known in my circle as the "Yar yar yar" factor. That is, the tendency to talk (and write) about a subject endlessly without taking concrete steps to voice their concerns beyond the internet, to organize and attend physical events.

    Sometimes I get the feeling bloggers believe we've evolved beyond the need for real action in "meatspace," the necessity to boldly proclaim our beliefs in real time, in real places.

    It's been said before but I'll say it again: The blogosphere is a fine place to talk but if you want change, you'll have to go out and do it.

    Merely pointing out misdeeds and expressing indignation and outrage in a blog, no matter how elequently, is a chump's game. I would even argue that there is a certain level on which blogs drain energy out of popular movements for change. It's called blowing off steam.

    It used to be that the protests and the events people attended were the culmination and expression of careful planning. Such events grow out of the burning desire to physically protest injustice and demand justice. Often, these events now appear to me as afterthoughts or adjuncts to the central action of verbally and intellectually expressing opinions in a clever way in blogs. As the saying goes: opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. It could be said that bloggers are mutants with more than are needed. I'll let you decide which word I'm referring to.

    Opinion doesn't make you an agent of social and political change, actions do.

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