Manufactured Outrage

About a month before the last Presidential election, I decided to opt out of the nonsense, opt out of the manufactured outrage, opt out of the negativity and use the remaining days through election day to instead demonstrate reasons why we should be inspired by each other. As you can see from the history of this blog, I’m not always the most inspirational person, not always the happiest, not always the sun-shiniest. I am, however, hardheaded. I refuse to succumb to the manufactured outrage I see everywhere from Sports Illustrated, to the Wall Street Journal, to my Twitter feed.

We’re all angry with each other because we live in our own little echo chambers, we consume the news that confirms our world views. We’re angry with all the things that should be and aren’t; we’re angry with all the things that are that shouldn’t be.

We’re angry that Colin Kaepernick disrespects the flag and military, we’re angry that Colin Kaepernick is out of football because he was protesting racial injustice.  We’re angry that Nike has made Kaepernick part of their ad campaign. We’re angry because “they’re” cutting off the Nike Swoosh off the socks that have already been purchased in protest.

We don’t stop to listen and really consider the transformation of the protest: it evolved from sitting during the anthem to kneeling – because it wasn’t about disrespecting the military, it was protesting police violence against minorities. Has there been an increase in violence? Are minorities disproportionately targeted? We don’t get that far into the conversation before we start yelling at each other. Even more than that, though, Kapernick wasn’t going to be the starting Quarterback.

He was going to be benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert; he wasn’t going to be released – the cap hit to the 49ers payroll would have been prohibitive – and he wasn’t going to play. A reasonable person could conclude this could be a  ploy to be released more than a social justice statement. As it turned out, he would replace Gabbert 4-weeks into the season, a season in which his team went 1-10 behind him and he sported a 49.5 QB rating…which was actually a slight improvement over his 2015 play.  Should he have a place on a roster? Perhaps, but then again there are plenty of second string quarterbacks that don’t ask for the same money – CBS reported before the 2016 season that he was looking for $9-10 Million and a chance to start. Not too many backup QBs make that kind of money and no wonder he didn’t get too many calls. So conspiracy to keep him out of the league, or over-reaching for salary?  Perhaps a bit of both – no one side is the carrier of truth here. Sports Illustrated suggested that should his asking price come down and still not get a contract, then there would be questions. Note the if/then: if he lowered his salary expectations, based on his mediocre play the previous couple seasons, THEN the questions about other than football considerations would be valid.

That is a lot to read and process. It doesn’t make for a quick read, or ad slogan.

Of course, Nike has come down on the side of “Social Justice,” by portraying Kaepernick as the warrior truth teller, knowing this would again manufacture outrage on the right. This is a $30-Billion company. This move has been vetted at the highest ranks of the company.  The folks most likely to be outraged would be the golfing demographic…a group that had pretty much abandoned the brand by the time Nike Golf got out of the equipment business. The folks most likely to stand behind the company are the people the brand wants to sell to. There’s no fear from losing their NFL exclusivity – they’re locked in for the next 10 years. It’s not rocket science – its pure naked capitalism.

Then there’s Fear, a forthcoming book on the Trump Presidency where the President is reportedly described as unhinged from reality. We’re angry Bob Woodward says Jim Mattis claims the President has the comprehension of a sixth grader; We’re angry Jim Mattis says that’s fake. Just one more cog in the attack on the press, or is it really fiction driven by an agenda driven puppet of the #fakenews? For the record, I believe Woodward’s account: well documented, multiple sources, and no apparent need to bolster his reputation – he could have done nothing more than “All the President’s Men” (1974) and he would be relevant. Mattis? An honorable man, a warrior, and American hero, but a member of the Trump administration – with loyalty to that President. He has reasons to refute the characterization.  The book hasn’t even been released and we’re outraged.

So here we are. Figuratively at war with each other. Unmoored from facts and understanding even though we’ve never had greater ability to get information. Having the “facts” and “truth” spun around, warped for us. Unable to hear each other over the competing voices. We’re more interested in being pissed off, than actually listening to each other. So I’m unplugging from the noise.

I’m going to make the effort to find inspiration in the every day. To find exemplars of people who have made a difference, who have overcome, who have contributed to our understanding of the world. I’m opting out of the manufactured outrage, and instead I’m hoping to manufacture a little inspiration and perhaps a little humor or love…or something, anything positive that can push back.  Everything does not have to be struggle, Some things do and I’m opting out of the fake ones.

I won’t hold myself to a schedule as I did with my original 28-Days, and I can’t completely opt out and still be a well-informed person. I can, however, call BS when I see it and counter it with something I consider not-BS. I can contribute to a positive conversation.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all spent a little less time focused on why we should be outraged, and a little more time focused on how we can make the world a little better place.

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