The Psychology of Outrage

(Originally Published on in March 2010)

Every day in this god forsaken country (irony intended) there is always someone, somewhere complaining about something which is of an almost minuscule nature compared to that little thing which we inhabit; you know,” reality”. While in reality our country is going down the tubes further and further, almost on a daily basis, there are those who seem to inhabit reality of their own making, where the smallest of things which may or may not upset them in some way or another, is elevated to highest podium in their mind. They almost go out of their way to become outraged at something and in the mean time, they manage to completely miss the point.

The first case of this “outrage” that springs to mind is the most recent fiasco, and that’s what it is, regarding the introduction of a conferring fee of €65 for UCC students graduating. The Student’s Union felt that this was another undue and unfair expense that was being levelled at the greater student body. The Student’s Union, along with Fine Gael Youth, gathered signatures along with organising a protest march against the introduction of the fee. However, the point was completely and utterly missed. First off, the fact that it’s €65 is irrelevant. What is relevant is why the fee was introduced in the first place. The simple fact is that the University is in debt to princely sum of €13 million according to the latest figures. So, why not protest the fact that funds have obviously been mismanaged by University authorities? Why not protest outside Government offices because of the cutbacks in the education budget? Why not protest at the fact that proceeds from the registration fees, paid by every single student regardless of income status, are in serious need of rearrangement?

But no, none of this seems to have crossed the mind of any of the groups involved in the protest and uproar over the €65 fee. The way the fee was introduced without a breakdown of where the money will be going is wrong, but the people involved are missing the point, as already mentioned. Instead, what we have here are the usual politicos flexing and posturing just for the sake of some publicity. They’re not seeing the forest for the proverbial trees.

An even more recent case of “outrage” is not of the regular kind (regular becomes passé after a while). Instead I was treated to a fantastic combination of moral and religious “outrage” rolled into one venomous threatening posture which was them aimed at some of my fellow staff members. Once again the point was completely and utterly missed by the certain someone (who shall remain nameless for various legal reasons) who went out of their way to become not only outraged, but utterly hostile and somewhat threatening. And what was the cause of all of this hostility and “outrage”? It was a single article on this very news site which “upset” said person. Why not get outraged at the systematic cover up of child rape within the Catholic Church? Why not send hostile messages to members of the Government because of their effective selling of our country to various bankers?

Instead someone took it upon themselves to become “outraged” at the thoughts and writings of someone that they have never met in their life and most likely never will. To say that the aforementioned person or persons was missing the point would be an understatement. The simple fact is that we all read things every day which annoy us or upset us but that doesn’t mean that the person who wrote those things should be silenced, threatened with silence or simply threatened. Freedom of speech is enshrined in every free and civilised society and to be quite frank, no threat on behalf of an imaginary deity, be it Jesus, Vishnu, Buddha, Muhammad, Xenu et al, should stifle a person’s ability to express him or herself in whatever way they see fit. If religious morality, or indeed someone else’s idea of personal morality, was to dictate the way we could express ourselves, life would indeed be extremely dull and repressed. To quote an idol of mine, “They say rock n’ roll is the devil’s music. Well, let’s say that it is; I’ve got news for you. Let’s say that rock n’ roll is the devil’s music and we know it for a fact to be the absolutely, unequivocally true. Boy, at least he fucking jams! Okay? Did you hear that correctly? If it’s a choice between eternal hell and good tunes and eternal heaven and New Kids on the fucking Block … I’m gonna be surfing on the lake of fire, rocking out … high five at Satan every time I pass the motherfucking shore.”

We all feel outraged at something we come across in our lives at some stage. We can’t control the thing that makes us feel this way but we can control how we react to it. The problem is that people show no restraint whatsoever and they effectively go out of their way to make themselves outraged at something. Mountains are made out of molehills and points are completely and utterly missed. There needs to be reform in this country not only on a Governmental level, that’s another article for another day, but on a very personal and individual level. Whenever people protest at something all I hear lately is “rabble rabble rabble”. The more important issues in our society are no longer audible due the sound of the babbling and bleating sheep who seem intent on drowning out everything that they see as being irrelevant.