Reason Podcast

Maybe Social Media 'Outrage' Is Just a Lazy Partisan Ritual: Podcast

Before demanding censure or intervention, take a step back from the Twitter machine and ask yourself whether anyone really cares about this stuff.



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The New Yorker invites Steve Bannon to its festival, then doesn't. California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman demands a boycott of In-N-Out Burger over political contributions, then doesn't. A wave of sports-apparel self-destruction greets Nike's new advertising campaign starring anthem-kneeler Colin Kaepernick. Or does it?

Could it be that people are just performatively overreacting to the funhouse partisan mirror that is social media? That question—including President Donald Trump's use of the format—dominates today's editor-roundtable version of the Reason Podcast, featuring Peter Suderman, Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and me. Other topics include the awfulness of Congress, the loneliness of centrism, the awesomeness of Reason's latest great-debates issue, and the blatant Johnson-blocking being engineered by the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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Relevant links from the show:

"Sen. Durbin's Attack on the Federalist Society at the Kavanaugh Hearing Is Silly," by Gail Heriot

"Trump Slams Sessions for Failing to Place GOP Candidates Above the Law," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"New Yorker Caves to Outrage, Disinvites Steve Bannon. Big Mistake," by Robby Soave

"California Democrats Call for In-N-Out Boycott," by Zuri Davis

"Massachusetts Mayor Claims Sam Adams Is Profiting Off Trump's 'White Nationalist Agenda,'" by Zuri Davis

"Conservatives #BoycottWalmart for Selling 'Impeach 45' Onesies," by Joe Setyon

"'Eat Mor Krow' and Other Signs of a Dangerously Politicized America," by Nick Gillespie

"The End of Free Speech," by Katherine Mangu-Ward

"Pence Walks Out on Colts Game Because Posturing and Performance Are What Politics Is," by Ed Krayewski

"New Mexico Reinstates Straight-Party Voting Just in Time to Thwart Gary Johnson," by Matt Welch

"Justin Amash: 'Straight-Ticket Voting Makes it Prohibitive to Run Outside of the Major Parties,'" by Matt Welch

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NEXT: The Importance of Uncomfortable Conversations

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  1. Maybe Social Media ‘Outrage’ Is Just a Lazy Partisan Ritual

    What’s tweeter again?

  2. Props to Matt for not embedding a passel of tweets in his post.

  3. Can’t u c my tears on the internets and how I’m outraged because peoples ?



  4. The only winning move is not to play.

    1. I’m more concerned with the whining play.

  5. What people say is far more important to progressives than what people actually do. It’s about enforcing proper standards of thought–and not just on race, sexuality, etc. They don’t want you smoking cigarettes on TV, etc., too.

    The reaction to progressive provocation like that is predictable–live by the sword, die by the sword. It isn’t about whether people care about Nike per se. It’s about reacting to those pathetic attempts at thought control.

    Somehow, we’re all racists if we think Kaepernick is an asshole for dissing the flag? Fuck you, Nike! Nike was begging for a reaction. They were probably banking on a reaction, it just got bigger than they anticipated.

    If their sales suffer for this, then they got what they deserved.

    1. Nike was begging for a reaction
      Nike wanted to Cause Controversy? in a cheap attempt to raise buzz about the brand.
      It probably never occurred to the upper management that it was going to be that polarizing. After all, every other WASP at their club is now posing as Woke, why would the plebs be any different?

      1. Heaven’s Gate believed in something, even if it meant sacrificing everything. Yet no love from Nike. #JustDoIt

  6. I don’t understand why journalists actually think that Twitter is newsworthy. Although, ironically, I did click on the story to say how uninteresting it was.

    Checkmate, I guess.

    1. It’s a helluva lot easier to write pulse-of-the-nation stories by watching hashtags than it is to get out and talk to people.

  7. Islamic rage boy is out of work, He’s make a great Twitter Rage Mob mascot.

  8. With respect to the points made around 32:30 or so, the deplatforming of scary people is *misdirected compassion*, not a response to the speech. It’s not that people are personally annoyed by Alex Jones, he only appears in their world as a scary headline in their news feed. It’s that they’re afraid that a hypothetical vulnerable or innocent person will be harmed or seduced by him and they think the best way to protect them is to delete them.

    1. Being generous, it is probably more this than principled opposition from the average partisan voter. It’s likely ignorance of the subject and context of whatever the new outrage might be. Lots of people acting like sheep following in the bleating without any real understanding. While I don’t know what Nike did, seeing the subject of the outrage and some of the team red outrage suggests 2 things to me.
      1. Nike chose to use Kaepernick to represent the brand because of his social activism and not because of his athleticism.
      2. The right still takes his activism as being anti-American. Maybe I missed statements from the man that objectively showed that he hates America, but they seem to be a little off in that criticism.
      Without looking into what actually happened and only having seen a few social media outrage posts, it sounds like Nike decided to take a social and political stance. I’m curious how far off my uninformed perspective is from the details of it.

  9. “”Maybe Social Media ‘Outrage’ Is Just a Lazy Partisan Ritual:””

    By people that think too much of their own opinion.

  10. Missed the mark on internet, censorship, & silos.

    I’m glad to have reasoned debates on almost any subject, and frequently do. The problem is that most of those exchanges quickly attract trolls & disrupters. Gods fore fend a discussion actually attract a “swarm” from reddit 4 Chan or similar. Then any chance of reasoned debate is doomed.

    People trolling legitimate conversations with “Eat shit” or “fuckin’ retard” are the reason groups are retreating into closed & moderated forums. I agree that the end result is people of like minds clustering together in closed groups.

    I just think you have the cause & effect wrong.

    So far, the best place for open debates without the interruption I’d too many trolls is The downside of Quora is that it takes an army of volunteer moderators to keep things civil.

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