How many things have you been mad about in the past week? How many meltdown-level shares have you seen in your social feeds?
Every day there’s something new that my entire social bubble is furious about (at least if feels that way). The Rage du Jour.
It’s the backlash for some stupid thing a politician did. Or the horrible take a celebrity had in response to a current event. Or a current event that isn’t getting the right coverage from the news. Or, sometimes, it’s rage about rage: the fact that people are mad about something become the thing other people are mad about.
In special cases the rage will last more than a day. But that requires a really sticky subject. Something that can keep our focus amidst the barrage of incoming candidates of rageworthiness.
It’s hard to stay genuinely mad about something for a long time. It takes energy, effort, fuel.
It’s easy to get mad about a new thing if the conditions are right.
And on social media the conditions are prime.
Social networks aren’t neutral when it comes to sentimentality. They’re tuned for the spreading of fear and outrage. It’s where the dollars are.
So it feels like everyone is mad about this, but in reality it’s just that Facebook is surfacing the angry shares. The rants. The cancelations. Because Facebook knows you’re more likely to engage with that. Pile on. Click the link, like, or comment.
Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because we think everyone is mad about something, everyone gets mad about something.
Now, this isn’t to say that Facebook (or Supreme Leader Zuck) are doing this because they want you to be mad. They don’t. They don’t really care. That’s not the conspiracy. This is a far more mundane dystopia: they just want you to show up and click.
Facebook needs to bring you back every day, dozens of times a day. It needs you addicted. What better way to do that than a new rage every day?
The algorithm doesn’t even need to know what it’s showing you. It’s not programmed to show you the latest political dustup, celebrity misstep, corporate ethics breach, etc.
It’s just listening for what gets the most reactions, and showing that to as many people as it can.
It’s Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber asking, “What’s the soup du jour?” and getting “It’s the soup-of-the-day” as a reply, then saying “Mmm. That sounds good. I’ll have that.”
There’re more items on the menu, we just don’t get to see them. The menu is off limits. It’s hidden. You can only order from what the server offers.
And the more often you order the Rage du Jour, the more it’ll be offered to you. “Want the usual?”
You can try to decline. By not clicking on the link, liking the post, replying with a comment, or weighing in with a little red rage face. Just scroll on by after you read the post and realize it’s today’s Rage du Jour. Opt out. Right?
Unfortunately, even that won’t work. Facebook doesn’t need you to click anything to know what you’re reading and what’s truly engaging you. Spend a few seconds looking at a post before scrolling past it and consider your order placed.
Just paying attention to the Rage du Jour is enough to get the next plate fired up in the kitchen.
Of course, participating in it will get you more of it. Jumping on the pile will give you an unlimited supply of piles to jump on. Sharing your own Rage du Jours, becoming a tastemaker, will create a social media experience that is defined by anger.
You are what you eat. And I know that I don’t want to be an embodiment of rage. Keeping up with the latest Rage du Jour is exhausting, it’s empty, it’s never-ending.
But opting out from active participation isn’t enough for you to have a Jour free from Rage.
Want to guarantee something more nourishing makes it to your table? There’s really only one way:
Go to a different restaurant.