Having spent a lot of time in the poor precincts of New York City I can advise with perfect confidence: the unfortunate and neglected, sick, mentally ill, drug and alcohol dependent, care nothing for what the better-off write and share on social media. None of this energy makes it to them. The churches and shelters that actually do stuff could use some of it. Clutching pearls over the New York Times editorial page (when it’s not advocating continuing the practice of mining the poor for revenue) butters none of their bread. Look at a rating of the cities that most mine their citizens for revenue, to marvel that they are mostly Democratic; the party whose supposed creed is to butter the bread of the poor (a libertarian would advise them that if you dance with the devil do not expect to lead for long).

Yet around the internet zips this gaseous ether of outrage and orthodoxy of moral condemnation around issues of race and policing, and mainly from Democrats. Yet, with the exception of the Democrats’ guerrilla war against Bernie, the Democrats have had precious little inner conflict over the issue (if that). At least the Limited Government wing of the Republican Party is a thing, by way of contrast. Both parties have leaders who integrate concern for American jail-happiness, but the Democrats should seem to have a cultural, as well as historical, advantage that lies dormant. Or more likely, ignored: the poor butter no politicians’ bread either (low voter turnout and virtually no bribes). Incarceration industry unions very much do.

How to resolve these two conflicting “other hands” (particularly) for Progressives?

A ritual dance of sacrifice and sympathy and concern has evolved to shrink the space between the two. The dance is social media likes and dislikes and meme-spreading: “slacktivism.” Most people know the concept of virtue signaling that is another motivation for the dancers.

Like all religions, orthodoxy, dogma, contradiction, apostasy, and priests to tell the difference have risen in the social media outrage ecosystem. The modern way of using the narcissism of small differences is no less useful today than it was to priestly bureaucrats that couldn’t deal with Christ’s bigger fish to fry, when his actual message deflected their accumulation of earthly power. Social Media priests have prospered and have been overturned in their power, according to factors knowable only to the rarified, in their expert reading of the entrails of the sacrifice. This is why bastions of previous entrail-expertise can so easily be toppled in the power struggle of the inquisition (the witchery/arcana is why this rarely happens to, say, a Physics department).

It has long been this author’s conclusion that the abstract nature of social media outrage is a feature of its culture, not a bug: hard questions of incarceration and race need to be asked and answered, important adaptations needs making, revenue streams need changing, some law enforcement needs laying off (rising incarceration with falling crime can almost be used as a definition of the overreaching state).

This is where slacktivism comes in to the Progressive: as a relief valve of the pressure of the cognitive dissonance between compromise (feeding the, mostly “their,” i.e. non-Republican, incarceration unions), and outrage. Uncompromising outrage is always reserved for the “out” group (the Republicans).

But slacktivism does not capture the shark-like feeding habits of social media outrage consumerism. So, for that, you read it here first, this author’s portmanteau: Umbrage/Nosh, Umbranosh.

The funny thing is, I spent some time watching a Fox News Republican relative collect their own custom-fitted outrage feed from social media, and lots of their umbranosh was cycled from those of the other side: “Look what they write about US!” Mark Zuckerberg is a gazillionaire for a reason.

Outrage is only a click away, and practically everyone has a net out to catch the umbranoshes that suits them (ssh, don’t tell Progressives that consuming bites of umbrage on Facebook is also big media capitalistic consumerism; they have enough to think about with slackivism).

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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