A Counterproductive Culture of Outrage: Christian Burns, Jake Paul, Nicole Arbour, Laura Loomer & Donald Trump

There are a lot of names in the title of this video, and while this video isn’t a hamfisted attempt to shove as many buzzword names as I can into a title, it’s also not not that.

Media is in a very, very weird spot right now. Let me share my take on it.

I am a journalist. I do journalism. For eight months a year, I study and perform journalism. And if you want someone preaching the doom and gloom that’s headed towards journalism, you don’t have to look very far. I’m not going to do that.

But there is some weirdness going on. It’s a strange, counter-productive problem and it has its roots in internet culture. Our culture.In many ways, it is a problem inherent to the culture of outage, and the culture of counter-outrage.

This is a problem directly related to infamy. It is what leads to those the public hating to ultimately getting the best of them in the end. It is what turns hard-hitting attacks into helium for those don’t deserve it but thrive on it. And to illustrate this problem, I want to look at some recent and not so recent news stories.

First and most recently, there’s the case of the instagram model Christian Burns verbally assaulting a security guard during VidCon. The assault was covered by several YouTube news sources that look for controversies to garner attention from.

Watch the video. It is hard not to have it elicit an emotional reaction. Here’s a kid that is in many ways emblematic of a perceived problem eating away at society. Youth are narcissistic as fuck, entitled, whiny, spoiled. The attractive are treated as gods and view themselves as gods, and when they brag about that fact we spew vitriol at them because partially know they’re right.

When this kid brags about his fame because he has 20 thousand instagram followers, we laugh. This is absurd. 20 thousand instagram followers is essentially being a nobody.

And so our culture vilifies him, the internet culture, the culture you are probably a part of if you’re deep enough down the YouTube rabbit hole that you actually managed to find this video, eventually chooses some cases to focus on. Rightfully so. This guy is truly reprehensible.

But he won.

Today, Christian Burns has 500 thousand instagram followers. Overnight, he became 2500% more famous than he was before that video. Let me say that again. He won.

There is a certain nearsightedness that occurs online when a target is the victim of ridicule or rage. There is the initial wave of hatred. Nasty stuff. Death threats and anger, mockery and reporting. Reaction videos. News releases. More outrage. Their name blows up in google.

And then the hate disappears. And what’s left is the fans of that person. The new fans that stuck around after the wave of outrage had left.

If I’m not explaining myself properly, here is the emotional core of my argument. People are making money off of being reprehensible. And here’s why.

There is a woman called Nicole Arbor. Maybe you’ve heard of her, maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t don’t look her up but the fact that I know her name means that somewhere along the line, she won. In the battle between the internet’s outrage and her public image, she won. Let me explain.

A few years ago, Nicole Arbor made a video called “Dear Fat People.” It basically tore to shreds anyone that was overweight. It was a shitty, unfunny, mean-spirited video that Arbor herself admitted was made specifically to generate outrage. And it did. People were all over her, dissing her, reaction videos, blah blah blah blah.

And then people forgot about her. Guess what happened.

Nicole Arbor is now a thousand times more famous than she was before that video. Because when we are outraged, we share this outrage with our friends. And not all of our friends agree with us.

Some of our friends might like shitty, mean-spirited, unfunny videos. They would see Nicole Arbor’s trash and laugh and think “haha hey this chick’s pretty funny.”

And this is why we’re kind of fucked. Because what is worse, witnessing a video like Christian Burns’ and not reporting on it at all? Or witnessing the very same video and helping him.

Attention is power. Humans do not have unlimited attention. We are small, we have tiny frames of reference, and we stick to those tiny frames of reference most of our lives. It is very hard for us to focus on a topic for a very long period of time. We forget.

Let’s say I have a fanbase of ten thousand people. Ten thousand people know about me. They all have a pretty good emotional reaction towards me. They don’t love me, but they don’t hate me.

Now let’s say I do something crazy and hateful and stupid that pisses nine thousand of those ten thousand people off. Nine thousand of those people hate me, but of course the one thousand that are left adore me because I’m saying the crazy bullshit that was on their mind.

Which scenario is better? You know the answer to that question. Machiavelli’s “it is better to be feared than loved” is now so true that it is better to be hated than liked.

 

Nobody is more indicative of the flames of outrage than Donald Trump, but I’m not going to talk about him. I want to talk about someone else. I want to talk about Laura Loomer.

Laura Loomer is… you know what it’s 2017 let me just show you the video.

Basically, Laura Loomer is a jo- a jour-

Laura Loomer calls herself a journalist, in the same way some people on Tumblr call themselves unicorns. She paired up with a person who didn’t like the play to interrupt the play. The play featured Donald Trump as Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.” Donald Trump was assassinated. They didn’t like that, so they interrupted the play to protest.

Loomer was arrested. So far so good. But oh wait shit now she’s viral. You see where this is going.

90% of people think what Laura Loomer did was dumb. She violated the actor’s freedom of speech, but also she was seeing a political move against her candidate where none really existed. This is personally VERY disturbing to me because Laura Loomer calls herself a journalist but then also intentionally causes the controversy that creates the news. This is the equivalent of me putting a kid in a dangerous situation just so I can report on the firefighters that save the kid (journalists have done this in the past by the way and it’s hilarious look it up)

Anyways, even if 90% of people hate you and think you’re terrible, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the internet. Realistically, think about it. What are they going to do. Send you an instagram message saying “kill urself”? Loomer knew this would create controversy, knew people want to talk about her after she pulled this stunt, and had a gofund me page created before she was even arrested, showing that she knew what she was doing.

All of this to defend a president whose rise to fame was eerily similar to what I’ve been describing before. If you can get a huge swathe of people to hate you and think you’re crazy and a joke, you are still getting people to listen to you. People naturally have very short attention spans. And if someone starts listening to you because they think you’re a joke, and you say something that they agree with, they’re going to forget the fact that they originally tuned in because you were a joke. All they’re going to do is remember that you say what they like. Your fervent haters become your biggest supporters.

These examples have all been pretty heavy. One more that’s a little less so. Jake Paul.

Think Christian Burns but actually famous. He made a video called “It’s Everyday Bro.” If you haven’t heard of it then you probably haven’t made it this far into the video because you actually have a life, but here’s a clip just in case.

It’s a shit video made by a shit person. Classicly reprehensible. But at least half of its popularity was spurred on because it was bad. Basically, if you create a piece of art that is shitty in just the right way, you can make that art more successful than genuinely good art.

I can slave away for years on a perfect piece of art that nobody will look at twice, but if I slapdash some art that gets people talking about it then I can blow up and become viral. Hmngh.

All of this leads me to ask. What do journalists do about these stories? Outrage is attention. Attention is money. If you can get enough eyes on you, it doesn’t matter how you got them there. Outrage is power, power is money.

I don’t know. I don’t think this is a clear cut answer. I don’t even have a good conclusion to this shitty slapdash video essay.

 

I’M BACK BITCHES

DID YOU MISS ME

Haha just kidding I KNOW that nobody visits this website YOU DID

How am I gonna herald my triumphant return to this blog? GOOD QUESTION

Let’s talk about how people thinking they want to die is bad

DEPRESSED PEOPLE

We treat them with empathy cause we don’t want em opening their wrists up all over us, I get it, I get it

(STAY WITH ME)

But you CAN just “get over” depression

(STAYYYY WITH ME)

Everyone’s gonna tell you “oh no you can’t just think your way out of depression that’s bullshit”

And it IS BULLSHIT IT IS

You can’t like just THINK and BAM all of a sudden your depression is gone

BUT

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT

You can use your noggin to develop techniques to help you FUCK DEPRESSION UP MY MAN

ok look quick disclamer

there’s 2 kindsa depression, fukn fake depression which is what most people have and actual clinical “Major Depression” which u’ll need a good amount of pills for

ARE WE BACK? OKAY GOOD

Use your noggin to say “if i get depressed i will fuck up my depression”

That’s a good thought, instead what people think is

“I can’t get over my depression it is an unassailable force guess i”ll just ride it out and eat FUKN ICE CREAM ALL DAY” SHIT THAT SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD LET ME DEPRESSED PLEASE

that is a joke i am please help me

HAHA WHATS THIS GUY EVEN TALKNNNNNNNNNNN ABOUT

So look.

Look.

Look, it’s 3 am, look.

When someone tells a depressed person “snap out of it” our societal instinct is to LAUGH AT THE STUPID MOFO SAYN “SNAP OUT OF IT”

Because we think you cant’ snap out of depression

I don’t fucking know if you can or not actually stop reading this blog post. I just tagged it as every category on my website, including Uncategorized, what are you gonna do about it? Huh? That’s what I thought.

I’m 5/8ths peppercorn chip and banana DNA. What about you, huh? Did you think this would be coherent? You want me to make an argument? Fuck you I don’t owe you anything.

I want to be a rock. You know, rocks dont really feel much do they? They can get trampled on all day and fuck shit this is depressing again

My swearing probably isn’t endearing. In the futuer I’m going to asterisks out all my f*cking swearing okay? I’m sorry.

*Fuckign10/10* listen

I saw a thing. It was fucki*g dumb.

It was “this is what depression feels like” and it was like a

Like, it was a woman sitting in a bathtub she pulled the plug and all the water drained around her or something and it was like “this is depression”

THATS P FUNNY

cuz it’s P INACCURATE

but nobody really knows how to describe depression, all i’m saying is you know take a dead fish and rub it against your face, THAT’S depression

the point is you shouldn’t call yourself depressed because then your brain latches onto the feeling and instead you get sad and tired and depressed more easily instead deny your feelings and repress them

That’s a great lead-up into my next piece called “Suck It Up”

Some poems

Heart

They tell me

“Write something with heart”

They don’t get my irony, my comedy

The way my mouth twitches at the end of a punchline

 

They don’t get my contradictions,

The way I say one thing and mean another

They don’t get that my heart contradicts itself in the same way

 

They tell me write something with heart

They overlook the part

Of my heart

Laced with contradictions

 

They tell me that they don’t get my comedy

Well I don’t get my comedy either, I don’t get most humor that’s why I’m trying to give it to you

They tell me

“Write something with heart

Something people *get* you know?

Stop saying one thing

And meaning another”

I ask them how am I supposed to write something

Broad enough to appeal to people

That still comes from the heart

You don’t get my comedy?

I don’t get my comedy either

That’s why

I’m trying

To give it to you

They tell me write something with heart

I tell them look harder

 

 

 

 

 

Give Up

The world has told me to give up

Too many times to count

And it’s true

That I am not a fighter

Or very emotionally powerful

Or good at being with people

Or doing anything, really

Actually, you know what,

I am kind of tired

Yeah forget it

They Say You Never Forget Your First Time

An eye-patched man came through the space café

Patting a boy on the back, he had this to say:

“Listen, everyone,” in a voice filled with delight

“This young gent had his first one tonight!”

All the patrons let out a drunken cheer

Cups clasped in their hands filled with alien beer

“Buy the boy a drink, then!” said one woman, “get in line!

It’s not every night one gets to celebrate their first time.”

When the boy settled down with green beer in his hand

The pub chanted and wailed like an unruly band,

“So tell us, oh tell us, what was it like?”

The boy bit his lip and smiled in the neon light:

“It was awkward, and quick,” the boy admitted

“But I know that after tonight, I am committed.”

The pub cheered again, and a woman came forward,

Dressed in black leather, she looked like a warrior.

“My first time was something I’ll never forget;

Our hands on each other; slow, and passionate

And the screaming…” smiled the woman playfully;

“You’ll want more, kid, there’s bigger fish in the sea.”

“My first time,” reminisced the man with a patch over his eye,

“Was very emotional. The night after, I cried.

Because I knew at that moment I’d never again

Have the innocence I had before I shot that man.”

For in the space café only mercenaries enter

And their talk of first times is the first ones they’ve murdered.

 

 

I’m Going To Be Honest

Everything terrifies and depresses me. Healthy relationships are swallowed up in complex complexes. Inferiority? Superiority? Both simultaneously? Not simultaneously. More consecutive. Alternating, re-alternating.
I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared. Of? Dying, ugly. My beauty will have faded away with no fame to speak of. Beat beat beat

This is not a natural fear. It is insanity. You are contemplative, caught up in a torrent of extremes. We gawk at extremes. The extremes become the norm. The norm becomes boring. Breathe breath.

I see other happy people. I’m not sure if they’re happy.

I’m still jealous of them. Jealous and spiteful. Jealous and unhappy.

It’s a welling in the pit of my stomach with no discernible cause, that good relations can qualm but not kill.

Every passing second is a regret.

In other news, popcorn: best with seasoning, or without?