Traditionalism and Outrage Overload

Two recent thoughts from watching TV:

I fear that I am genetically pre-disposed to prefer “the way things used to be”. I try to fight that internally (are rotary phones really superior to cell phones, or am I just being nostalgic?), but occasionally something jumps out at me that I really wish were “the way it used to be.” Oddly, last night I realized that I really wish that pharmaceutical companies were still not able to advertise on TV. I find their ads manipulative and fear-mongering.

I’ve also been more and more overcome by watching news coverage of political blowhards huffing and puffing over bank bailouts. Putting aside the fact that by providing bailouts they were funding ‘business-as-usual’ and that many of these banks were forced to take government money even if they didn’t want it, at a most basic level I find their grandstanding so ugly.

While I was chopping vegetables last night with the news on in the background, it hit me why this bothers me so much: this cheapens outrage. Outrage is precious and powerful and should be reserved for the things that are truly, deeply, offensive. Outrage should not be used to put on a show. The few occasions I have become profoundly outraged it has been ugly. I certainly wouldn’t want to go put that on display. But the handful of things that turn me inside-out with rage have been so intense that they have caused a shift in me: a change of life or a change of heart.

So politicians, listen to me. The financial sector has been broken (and truly outrageous) for a long time. You know that, and you shouldn’t have expected a magic change there. Your posturing is transparent and obnoxious. Don’t cheapen such a powerful human emotion by faking it when the cameras are on.

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