We are living in the era of outrage. Ostensibly, in the name of social justice, keyboard warriors take to social media to unleash their fury against anyone who has strayed from the “woke” handbook. “Offenders” are bullied, harassed — even threatened — by a mob of self-declared agents of righteousness.
For instance, a Utah high school senior became the target of an online pile-on for committing the unforgivable sin of “cultural appropriation.” Like many other teenagers preparing for her prom, she wanted to find a dress that would stand out. While browsing a vintage store in Salt Lake City, she came across a red cheongsam — or qipao — the high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress. As many teenagers do, she documented the big event by posting a prom photo of her wearing the stunning dress. The backlash that ensued was swift and fierce. The teenager received a barrage of online hate, denouncing her as “racist” and “ignorant.”
U.K. tea company, Yorkshire Tea, was caught in a firestorm after Conservative British Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a figure loathed by liberals, tweeted a photo of him drinking a cup of the popular brew. Apparently, Sunak’s unintended endorsement of the tea was enough to set off the Twitterati, leading many on the left to call for a boycott of the product.
And in recent times, each Christmas season there are howls to ban the Yuletide classic Baby, It’s Cold Outside, prompting some radio stations across the U.S. and Canada to pull the holiday tune from their playlists.
Here at home, a social media brawl erupted over bumper stickers emblazoned with “Squampton.” A handful of people complained the term was “racist” and demanded the “offending” items be removed from a local bike shop. Had the insulted bothered to learn about the origins of “Squampton” they may have held their fire.
But is so much outrage over such trivial matters good for society and our own mental health? Wouldn’t our energies be better spent getting angry over — and taking action against — more important issues like ending the utter cruelty of factory farming, where billions of animals are raised in horrendous conditions and slaughtered? Or halting the ongoing destruction of critical wildlife habitat in Squamish to make room for more unsightly sprawl? Or stopping female genital mutilation, a horrific practice that has scarred more than 200 million girls and women worldwide?
Surely, these calamities deserve our attention more than a prom dress or a slogan on a bumper sticker.
Marion von Dehn