The Rage Economy

Everyday in America there is online outrage because of one issue or another. We are caught in an endless cycle online of addressing, forgetting and moving on to a new issue. Today it was some Dove ad that was taken out of context to look “racist,”

The day before that it was NFL kneeling, and before that it was “digital blackface,”

Are these articles intended to right a wrong? Once white people stop using black emojis will the world be more egalitarian and happy? If so are these like.. Public Service Announcements? The media would happily fool you into believing they are. If they are in fact some type of wholesome PSA then why do they focus exclusively on divisive issues such as race, transgender, white-privilege and LGBTQ? One would think if the media is pursuing a path of righteousness towards an egalitarian utopia they would also do PSA’s on things like how to save money on your taxes, advice on raising children or exposing global poverty.. Why doesn’t mass-media cover these issues? The Rage Economy is why.

We live in an age where you can buy 5000 impressions on Facebook’s ad platform for $20. Eyeballs have never been cheaper or more fickle. Media company’s make money from ads, duh. Divisive issues get clicks, clicks make money. It’s that simple. Donald Trump understands this simple mechanic — thats why he is so confident with his brash rude hyperbole.. Media will run it no matter what because it makes them money.

Converting attention to money is nothing new, The Attention Economy, Yellow Journalism and Clickbait are terms that properly express the fiduciary function of attention.. but they fall short in identifying the current flavor. Media published within the The Rage Economy becomes veiled by virtue. Authors and publishers absolve themselves from the moral dilemma of manipulating people for profit by publishing these articles with a sense of righteousness and pride. Empty clickbait becomes obfuscated through the false virtuosity of rage — as if to be righting a wrong or shedding light on an important issue.

Rarely are the most successful posts of The Rage Economy important issues, and never do they right a wrong. Trump bullying NFL players to stand for the anthem or BuzzFeed telling white people they can’t use black emoji’s both accomplish nothing good. Essentially they are both just public shaming, a form of punishment popular in medieval times and nazi germany.

Prisoners incarcerated barefoot next to regularly shod visitors, ca. 1640; Bare feet then typically indicated the state of imprisonment.

The Rage Economy is not exclusive to the right or the left — Both sides are using it for profit.

Creating outrage and virtue signaling for profit is insidious. It divides people fueling hate by manipulating people’s emotional venerability towards polarizing issues, just for the sake of selling a dumb banner ad which nobody even enjoys.