Internet outrage is the new black. Or maybe red. Either way, it's dominating the online parenting community. Everywhere you look, someone is angry about something. And more often than not, they're demanding that whatever it is must STOP at this very moment because THEY DON'T LIKE IT.
A piece of clothing. A song with suggestive lyrics. A regrettable tweet from a tween idol. It's sexist! It's insensitive! It's deplorable! condemns the Internet.
At least a couple of times a week, an outrage catches on. Social media gets whipped up into a frenzy and the Internet mob is unleashed. The media jump into the fray and righteous indignation hits a fever pitch. Finally, the offending party relents. Victory! Yay for the little guy! The power of social media! Right?
Sometimes. But a lot of times, not so much. A lot of times it would have been better to just walk away. Look away. Click away. Unbunch those undies, take a deep breath and relax. Because in the end, all that righteous outrage doesn't accomplish much more than raising our collective blood pressure.
Let me be clear: Sometimes I totally agree with what people are up in arms about. For example, I'm glad people have been talking about how Photoshopped models and celebrities set an unrealistic standard of beauty. I like that the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty exists, and that Aerie is launching an ad campaign with untouched (though still quite slender) models. I love that a British department store is showing real models in its clothes. This is all good stuff. And it's happening because enough people have spoken out over time so that finally -- finally -- the fashion industry is hearing them. It goes to show that continuous debate about an issue can eventually cause meaningful change.
So I'm not saying we shouldn't advocate for issues that we care about. I'm saying we need to be selective with our outrage and direct it in a more productive manner.
In other words, let's stop freaking out about every slightly offensive t-shirt.
I mean, I get it. I see my fellow parents' online fury, and I know it comes from a strong desire to protect our children. But all that fury is just not productive.
Trying to shelter our kids from every awful message out there is an exercise in futility. Even if you do cause a stink and get a moderately offensive t-shirt removed from the shelves, once the roar dies down, that t-shirt will be replaced by similar ones that are waiting in the wings. We can't control that.
But we can control how we react to the crappy messages and set an example for our kids. We can talk to them about why we should reject those messages, and explain that our sense of self-worth shouldn't be dictated by a crummy t-shirt. And we can discuss (and model) when it's good to take a stand and protest something -- and when it's better to just talk about it and move on.
And then maybe, eventually, those t-shirts with messed-up messages will stop existing because people won't buy them. Not because of a boycott of one shirt by some furious parents. But because our kids will make up their own minds that they simply don't want them. Kind of like they've shown over the years that they don't want magazines with emaciated models in them.
How about we make a pact to not fuel the constant Internet fire of righteous indignation? When we see unnecessary outrage brewing, let's vow to take a deep breath and say, to quote a wise(ass) friend of mine, Namaste, motherf***ers. And just click away.
Unless it's fury over the CEO of Abercrombie. THAT GUY PISSES ME OFF.
Namaste, you creepy Abercrombie jerk. Namaste.