(I wrote this before July 4 and published it on my LJ account, intending to publish it here after the holiday. With the violence of those days, it felt inappropriate. But now that we are in the midst of indignance over Pokemon, it seemed appropriate to put it up.)
Today I heard about the boycott of Finding Dory because there is a lesbian couple in it for a split second. I was, naturally, outraged. I was, naturally, about to link to the article in Facebook and write a diatribe. I was, naturally, All Worked Up.
But then, quite unnaturally, I paused a moment to do a search on Twitter. A couple different searches. I found a gazillion tweets on the topic.
Almost uniformly, they were outrage at the notion that people would boycott Finding Dory and how terrible those people were. Pages and pages of outrage.
What didn’t I find? Very much encouragement for actually boycotting. In fact, I found one guy who is an obvious troll, and one woman who seemed genuinely to be boycotting.
Oddly, that one real tweet was the exact same tweet that had been in the article I read about this terrible boycott–strange, if the Twittersphere is full of calls for boycott, don’t you think? It had a response from only one other person. The troll’s tweet had no responses at all.
But someone in a newsroom somewhere decided to write an article designed for outrage, and someone else got outraged, and then there was Mass Hysteria (TM).
So out of curiosity, I went looking for the Horrible Boycott of Cheerios over the ad with the mixed race couple. Once again, loads of outrage. Once again, little sign of people actually encouraging boycott.
The news would certainly have you believe that All Those White Christians are out there hating on blacks and gays. But when The Daily Show went to rural Mississippi and asked people how they felt about gay marriage, there was lots of, “okay good for them.”
I’m reminded of being in Israel as the wall was being built. The Israelis I talked to about relations were uniformly of the opinion that they had to find a way to live in harmony, that the wall wasn’t going to work, and that most of their experience interacting with Palestinians was positive. Not the picture that is painted by the government or the news.
Could it possibly be that there isn’t as much divisiveness and hatred than we are being sold? And are we making that rift larger by helping to blow these stories out of proportion?
Yes, there is hatred, and yes there is prejudice and the KKK and Westboro. But we’re allowing ourselves to believe that those outliers are the mainstream. And we’re making it worse by linking to fake outrage.
The next time you see something that makes your blood boil, don’t just click “Share” and add your own fury to the screed. Take a minute to see how true the claim is. And if it’s not true, don’t share it. Instead, go looking for a story filled with positivity, particularly one that involves a group of people who you wouldn’t generally consider allies. They are out there–the world is filled with people of faith doing good works and reaching out in support of others.
But it’s not as glamorous as outrage and disgust. It doesn’t get the kind of clicks that hate-baiting gets. So it needs a lot more help being seen.
I don’t think most of America is as far apart as the news outlets and the politicians would like us to believe. And I’m tired of playing into their hands to the detriment of society. I believe in the power of good works, and the general decency of most people.
Let’s stop feeding the trolls.