The Culture of Indignation

glamour MaliaThere’s a attitude that has been making it’s way through the blogging community that sort of goes something like this, “Don’t piss me off because I’m a blogger and I’ll let the whole world know just how awful you are if you do.” What seemingly started out as a way to inform others about companies who may or may not be on the up and up or to find out if others have had similar experiences with a company has become a daily exercise in the “airing of the grievances”. And it’s not just about restaurants, retailers, hospitals, car dealerships, websites and the like anymore, these kinds of posts are also targeting individuals.

As bloggers, we have embraced a false sense of power and security. I have to wonder just how many of us would actually say to anyone’s face what we dare say from behind our computer screens. Insults and meaness flow from our fingertips and across the web. It’s the grown-up’s version of slam books and note passing that was prevelent in junior high and high school. I have witnessed extreme pettiness and ugliness on the Internet in the name being vigilant and transparent.

What has happened to us? Part of me thinks that the jerks on the Internet are also jerks in real life, I mean, how could they not be right? But another part of me wonders if the jerks, at least some of them, are just caught up in the culture of indignation that has spread like wild fire across the Internet. The barista at Starbucks gets your order wrong? Shout it from the rooftops of Twitter! Bad customer service from a local company? Drag their name through the mud on your blog! Get your feelings hurt or have a disagreement with another blogger? Sick all your online friends on them to show just how “powerful” you are!

People are not perfect. Company’s make mistakes. Sometimes they make big mistakes, sometimes someone just has a bad day. Do we really need to point it out every time it happens? And what about the times we dogpile on individuals and spew forth all sorts of vitriol just because we don’t agree on how they do things? How are we helping anyone by doing that? When will we realize just how badly it reflects on us when all we do is complain about how awful everyone else is?

I realize there is some irony in this post I write. I am, essentially, participating in this culture of indignation by criticizing it in this way. Yes, I’m making veiled references to recent and not so recent examples of this behavior. Do I get some absolution because I won’t link to it, maybe, maybe not. Life is not always sunshine and roses and bliss. I know that as well as anyone. I like to adhere to a practice of leaving things better than I found them, not a wake of destruction and loathing. But that’s just me.

11 Comments

Filed under by Malia, musings

11 responses to “The Culture of Indignation

  1. Great post, Malia,.

    I’ve witnessed several recent examples of just the indignation that you’re talking about. Frankly, I fall on the side of thinking that such folks aren’t nice in real life either. But maybe that’s just my irritation talking.

    It’s as if they forget that these are real people that they’re talking about.

    Kimba

  2. Thank you, great post. This is my first visit here, nice to meet you!

  3. I agree… to a degree. I agree that posting on twitter or on your blog with the intent to create an uproar or boycott of a store or company for personal reason is petty and immature. But I also feel that for many people their blog is a place to vent and share their opinions, and as long as it’s done in a non-offensive, respectful way, I don’t see why not. isn’t it part of the whole “freedom of speech” thing?

    I’d say share, but don’t be a drama queen about it, and don’t gang-up on people for making mistakes.

    • Malia

      It’s the intentions behind the postings that I find unsavory. I agree, blogs
      are great places for venting and sharing options. That’s exactly what I did
      with this post. I needed to say it. But my intention was not to drag anyone
      down or point any fingers which is why I left out links to some of the
      specific ickyness I was thinking of while writing the post. There’s a
      difference between getting something off your chest and being downright
      nasty.

      Thanks for the comments y’all! I appreciate you taking the time to read and
      voice your opinions as well.

  4. I have to disagree, though maybe we know different bloggers? The ones I know don’t seem to be drunk on any kind of power, they are just looking for a place to air their grievances, thoughts, etc.

    When I bitch about something on Twitter or on my blog, it’s not because I have this false sense that thousands of people are reading me and are immediately going to care enough about what I’m complaining about to actually boycott a restaurant or stop shopping at a store or change their minds about how someone in the public eye is an asshat just because of what I said. I just don’t have that inflated of a sense of self-importance.

    But I blog for three semi-self-absorbed reasons: to release stress, to create a record of my life that I will have to look back on, and so family members and friends can check in on me and see what I’m up to—if they want.

    If I happen to entertain, engage or even piss off anyone in the process, that’s a nice side effect. But I don’t have any delusions that I’m going to change anyone’s life or mind with my musings—complaints or not.

    I wholeheartedly believe in citizen journalism and think bloggers can be powerful—sometimes individually and sometimes as a mass. But as a whole, I don’t think bloggers set out to try to “ruin” people or companies or whatever it is you’re referring to here.

    • Malia

      Megan, there are all types out there. I don’t think that everyone who spouts off a rant is trying to be mean. I don’t think bloggers as a whole are trying to ruin people. I purposefully spoke in general terms because I do not wish to bring specific attention to certain blogs. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have over inflated egos and delusions of importance who are sure that their opinions are the end all be all of the Internet. There is power in blogging, I agree. It’s how that power is perceived and used that is important.

      Thank you for chiming in with your perspective, I do appreciate it!

  5. Sidney Carton

    You make an excellent point. All too often the anonymity granted to us by the Internet allows us to let our id run wild and attack people in secret in ways that we’d never dare to do openly.

  6. Blogs or no blogs, there are just certain people in the world who thrive on drama. Something is always happening TO them, or someone annoyed them.. whatever it is, they just have to tell everyone they encounter all about it…

    I don’t know which bloggers to whom you are referring, but the rest of us just have to take it for what it is.

    Great post!

  7. I know what you mean, though not the particular example(s).

    There have been times when someone has hurt my feelings, and I’ve been grateful for the support of my online friends. In most cases with anonymous commenters who mask their identities and make it impossible to handle the difference of opinion, one on one.

    And yet there are other places on the internet I hesitate to comment, for fear of becoming the object of someone’s wrath.

    How to have the former without becoming the latter–that’s a question every blogger has to answer for herself.

  8. Megan

    “As bloggers, we have embraced a false sense of power and security.”

    “Insults and meaness flow from our fingertips and across the web.”

    Using “we” and “our” comes off as you’re referring to the blogging community as a whole, not unnamed specific individuals, so I apologize that I misunderstood.

    Also, while we’re being honest:
    What seemingly started out as a way to inform others about companies who may or may not be on the up and up…

    I don’t agree that blogging was born out of a need/desire to inform others of a consumer or business experience. Maybe you’re referring to a specific blog that you’re trying not to name, but as for blogging in general? No.

    • Malia

      When I said, “What seemingly started out as a way to inform others about companies who may or may not be on the up and up…”, I did not mean that’s how blogging was born. Not at all. I’m sorry that my train of thought is a little hard to follow there. I’m referring to the trend that I’m seeing to be mean-spirited when logging complaints about companies, restaurants, customer service experiences and even more disturbing, targeting individuals to call out and publicly humiliate on a blog. It’s all in the attitude and intentions.

      A couple years back when Kat blogged about JL Kirk, she wasn’t trying to mean or ugly, she was hoping to share her experience so that others might see her post and be forewarned about their uncouth business practices. That was constructive and helpful to lots of people even if they did try to sue her. And I think most of the time, bloggers do have that in mind when they post their rants or experiences, they want to inform. However, I have seen and continue to see hatefulness coming from bloggers who seemingly just want to be mean or who want to see how much of stir they can cause to either get something (free product/publicity) or demonstrate their so-called “influence” without taking into consideration that real people are affected by what they say and how they say it.

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