The media monetizes your anger

The Internet is becoming an enormous, seething outrage machine. It’s devouring our souls and turning our hearts away from the One who can really make the world a better place.

Worst of all, it’s making us unable to be truly thankful for all we’ve been given.

Does all this fury move us forward? Not really. But it generates a lot of clicks, views and shares, which makes media companies happy. Ironically, we tend to share articles that frighten or anger us.

The 24-hour news cycle and the proliferation of internet news sites has upped the competition for outrage. Every media company is looking for that article that will get people upset enough to read and share.

Both left and right play this game

Take the online magazine Slate, which is famous for unearthing obscure leftists to write outrageous columns like this one. Articles like these are an example of “click-bait” – puff pieces designed to go viral in the right-wing blogosphere.

The Blaze, Breitbart and other right-wing sites play the same game from the opposite bench. They churn out articles by the hour whose primary purpose is not to enlighten their readers, but to outrage them. These articles are quickly skewered in the left-wing blogosphere. And the beat goes on.

The battles play out in comments section. It’s an all-out war between left and right – complete with put downs, threats and innuendos. The media companies are moving to Facebook-based comments because they want your opinions (and their articles) to be shared on your social networks. More shares = more money.

I have certain Facebook friends (you know who you are) who I call my “outrage messengers.” Their feeds are a font of crazy stories harvested from sites you’ve never heard of (here’s one about a student who was mugged, but blames himself and his white privilege).

Confession time: I find myself easily drawn into this melee. I like the feeling of “being right” I get when I read the Matt Walsh Blog. I feel smarter than the kook who claims that vaccines are worse than disease.

Here’s my first point: the media companies that control the Internet are using you. It’s like Monsters, Inc. — they have found a way to bottle your fear and sell at a profit. They are further dividing the country for money.

The Bible describes the Evil One as a divider. In fact, the Greek word for devil is “diabolos” which is derived from the words dia-ballo, to divide or separate.

It’s like Monsters, Inc. — the media have found a way to bottle your fear and sell at a profit.

Here’s my second point: when we’re outraged, we can’t be thankful.

Despite the many challenges we face in the USA (and around the world) we have more than ever to be thankful for. But we can’t see all the blessings that surround us because we are focused on what’s wrong.

We live in an era of unprecedented prosperity. Never in human history have so many people enjoyed such a comfortable lifestyle. Even the poorest Americans enjoy conveniences King Henry VIII could not even imagine. Poverty is in retreat around the globe. Lifespans have nearly doubled in the past century. The arts are flourishing. Heck, even TV shows are getting better – which is great news during a pandemic.

Our ancestors frequently starved to death – but no one dies of hunger in the West anymore. The world is more peaceful than ever. Violent crime declined sharply over the past 20 years in the USA. Many deadly diseases have been conquered – COVID-19 notwithstanding.

But the outrage machine keeps our eyes off our blessings. It focuses our attention on what’s wrong. It stokes our fears and keeps us in a heightened state of anxiety.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to step away from the outrage machine and be truly thankful for all you’ve been given. Take 24 hours to stop worrying that the world may be going to hell-in-a-hand-basket, and thank God for his abundant provision. After all, that’s what this holiday is about.

Published On: November 26, 2020 / Categories: Media, Screen Addiction /

David Murrow, The Online Preaching Coach, is the author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and many other bestselling books. David is an award winning television producer whose work has been seen on ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, Discovery Networks, BBC World Service and dozens more. His Online Preaching Cohort trains pastors in the art of on-screen communication.

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