Donald Sterling and the United States of Outrage

By now everyone has heard of the Donald Sterling story. The media frenzy went far beyond ESPN and Sterling’s recent interview with Anderson Cooper definitely added more fuel to the fire.

His comments were terrible. There is no gray area, no, “I think his words were taken out of context” justification. The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, rightfully punished Sterling with a lifetime ban and the forced selling of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sadly that sale is going to make Sterling a ton of money.

I have no further input on Sterling’s comments. There’s nothing more to be said. However, I do think this Sterling situation has revealed a serious nationwide problem. One that we all suffer from to some degree.

Simply put: our national outrage-o-meter is out of whack. 

It seems like the media has kept us in one state of outrage for the last five years. Before Sterling there was Paula Deen. Before Paula Deen there was Miley Cyrus twerking. Before that there was Lance Armstrong cheating, Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, Anthony Weiner’s selfies, Mitt Romney with a dog on his roof, Mike Vick torturing dogs, Mel Gibson ranting against Jews and Barack Obama hinting at socialism to Joe the Plumber.

Not to mention Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. They’ve got a special case of outrage because they tick off the self-righteous people like myself who are “outraged by outrage”.

What I mean by that is Kim Kardashian will post a photo of her buttcheeks, Kanye will say he’s like Jesus and people like me will get on their soap box shouting, “What type of country do we live in that this is news! Why do people care about these two! I care so little about them that I just wrote a 500 word blog post showing just how little I care!”

“Outrage” has become a drug or, at the very least, like a handful of jelly beans.

When this Sterling story fades away, my blood sugar levels will drop and I’ll need another sound bite to fill the void.

With each repetitive outrage, the next one loses its impact. These “grave offenses” end up becoming just part of a generic, interchangeable formula:

Famous Person + Doing Something They Shouldn’t + Public = Outrage

Example:

Miley Cyrus (role model for young girls) + twerking on a 40-year-old man + MTV Awards Goes Viral = Outrage

Now plug in Donald Sterling. Or Jonah Hill. Or Justin Bieber.

An even more advanced formula, the holy grail combination that networks dream at landing, is called the Outrage-alanche. It’s the same formula as the one from above, just throw in some religion or political aspect. This equals ‘Royal Outrage’ and gets us hooked for another month on the same story.

This is why you will hear things like:

Oh, the Liberal media wants to crucify Paula Deen, but where were they when Jay-Z said the n-word!

Oh, Fox News wants to make a big deal about Barack Obama’s comments, but listen to these same newscasters seven years ago defending President Bush!

Don’t take the bait! Conservatives don’t have to support Paula Deen out of some weird twisting of the First Amendment. Liberals don’t have to hold a grudge against everything President Bush did in office.

There is a legitimate alternative called: I’m just not outraged by that.

Simple. Healthy. And the best part is when something truly outrageous does come along, that outrage is taken more seriously.

How can this be implemented?

There is not 24 hours worth of news in a day. In reality there’s probably only 15 minutes worth of info. So check in once. Go back to the good ol newspaper or watch Jon Stewart at night. That’s all we need.

And let others around you be outraged by Lindsay Lohan’s next DUI. Let there be horrible hashtags when a baseball player is suspended for steroids. Let there be mass Facebook profile photos supporting some obscure piece of legislation (below is my profile pic from January 2012. Look how outraged I was!).

Don’t be outraged by other people’s everyday outrage, instead sit back and enjoy the calm seas. That way you’ll have plenty of stored up energy the next time a Donald Sterling level situation comes around.

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