I’ve blasted Bill Maher on occasion here but this is one occasion where he nails it:
Wonder why Fake News resonates so much with Trump fans – because so much of it is fake. Just nonsense made to keep you perpetually offended with an endless stream of ‘controversies' that aren’t controversial. pic.twitter.com/pog5OO4ttL
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) March 3, 2018
I’ve been extremely busy the last couple of months. I’m teaching for the first time in years, which involves an epic amount of effort. I’m also moving to a new house and trying to maintain my research responsibilities. As a result, I’ve let Twitter, the blogosphere and this blog slide because I simply don’t have time for them.
One of the advantages of that is that little vacation is that it’s given me some perspective on the outrage cycle that has come to dominate social media and, by extension, our news. I knew of it before, of course, and have commented on it. But taking a step back from the day-to-day makes it jump out even more in that, if I skip Twitter for a few days, I can completely miss something that everyone was outraged over. These things don’t even have a half-life of a few days before we’ve moved on to the next outrage because, in the end, it’s usually over something incredibly trivial.
(This isn’t limited to liberals. Conservative gadflies have their fainting spells and pearl clutching fits just as often — which is odd, given that they control the entire government right now. We have seen one-day outrages over Hamilton, Keurig, Delta, Budweiser, Hawaii, Shakespeare in the Park, Amazon, Starbucks, Macy’s, badly reported news stories corrected within hours, etc., etc. Face it, you’d have to Google at least half of those to remember what the outrage was all about.)
The thing is … it’s not like there’s a shortage of real things to be angry about. We are back over a trillion dollars in deficit thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and spending hikes. We have trillions in unfunded liabilities thanks to decades of neglect by both parties. We have three wars going on with some people itching for a fourth (or even a fifth). Congress, right now, is considering an “anti-sex-trafficking” bill called SESTA that would basically gut internet freedom and potentially put thousands of consenting adults in federal prison.
But … those stories tend to be a bit more complex. The deficit, for example, is something that can only be addressed with unpopular proposals. Ending our wars would mean abandoning the peoples of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to cruel predators. And rejecting SESTA would mean to coming to grips with our century-long national hysteria over sex work.
It’s just easier to have a shit fit because Jennifer Lawrence’s dress is skimpy or act like kneeling football players herald the end of the Republic.