There have been a number of articles about "feeding the beast" of public outrage, and I expect to see more about this as people start to feel trapped in cycles of frustration and helplessness that are relieved temporarily by experiencing a dose of righteous anger, only to result in a "crash" -- that is, until the next scandal engages our attention and pumps us full of adrenaline once more. It's exhausting, though, isn't it?
There is a lot of anger addiction in my family, and I am an anger addict myself. I was taught to fuel myself with my own anger the way other people are taught to use coffee, as a routine stimulant in response to fatigue, fear, stress or any event that I find excessively taxing. That doesn't mean I walk around in a state of simmering rage or am prone to public melt-downs. But it does mean I can be rather unpleasant to be around when I am girding my loins for battle with some unpleasant or tiresome task such as cleaning the house or tackling a mountain of paperwork. I have long been conscious of how I manipulate my own brain chemistry in order to energize myself with a goodly dose of anger.
Ironically, by feeding the anger beast I often wind up depleting my reserves. Instead of actually harnessing that anger to effect real change (such as actually re-grouting the tub), I pursue the "high" like the junkie I am, seeking more "hits" of outrage. For better or worse, like everyone else I live in a media-rich environment where there are endless opportunities to divert myself, and endless opportunities to be outraged.
I suppose this came to mind today when I found myself idly peeking at Matt Forney's twitter feed instead of cleaning the bird's cage. Yesterday, he had tweeted something about me, to the effect that reading my blog was "like watching a nervous breakdown in slo-mo" and that I should really be put on "suicide watch." Both comments made me laugh, and I wasn't offended by either. To be honest, I wanted to see if he had tweeted anything more about me! ("Vanity, thy name is woman!") Instead, he was on an entirely different toot, courting new sources of outrage by virtually dancing on the grave of Nelson Mandela.
Forney's post about why girls need less (or was it more?) self-esteem has already faded from collective memory. These things seem to have a half-life of about two weeks. Now he is left with the unenviable task of keeping attention on himself with nothing but his internet connection, smartphone, and nastiest impulses to help him.
Not for the first time I am thinking that in terms of grinding, mind-numbing, thankless vocations, the endless pursuit of internet notoriety must be the worst. And it isn't even like "trolling for a living" fetches up much of a "living." One of my mild but persistent obsessions is trying to figure out how a guy like Forney manages to stay as
When I first stumbled into the "manosphere" I couldn't believe my eyes. I would never have guessed how many Angry White Men were out there. I felt compelled to read boatloads of these blogs in an effort to grasp the depth and breadth of it, to accept that the resurgence of a "new" misogyny was real. I started with Roosh (hence the name of the blog), but soon discovered he was only one of many men who really, really hate women and don't hesitate to express that fear & loathing with shockingly contemptuous and even violent imagery (from safely behind their keyboards of course). And they had fans too, and many of those readers had their own tiny terrible blogs and tiny furious twitter feeds.
I'll admit that these guys (and a few of these gals) scared me. I hate to admit that because that's exactly what they want to do: to control women by playing on their fears. And then I got very angry, which is a natural coping mechanism, because anger makes the fear manageable.
OK, I now see this New Misogyny really is a thing in our world (not in my own small "real" world, mind you, where I have never met -- or at least never had reason to recognize -- any guys like this). I've entertained my worst fears about what it represents, and have come to the conclusion that it does not represent a serious social threat, at least in its current incarnation.
So what's my excuse for continuing to immerse myself in the toxic morass that constitutes the "manosphere"? Is there a 12 Step program for people like me, who are addicted to feeding their own internet-fueled anger? And what are the salient differences between "people like me" and "people like them" anyway? In terms of our respective anger addictions, it seems very few.
It strikes me that on some small level I have been engaging in a symbiotic relationship with the manosphere bloggers, a sort of "dance of anger" in which we take turns outraging each other. Maybe there is more in common between, say, Matt Forney and me than meets the eye. Like many dysfunctional relationships, we are each getting some pay-off, feeding some addictive and self-destructive need.
Anyway, enough about Rush Limbaugh-wannabe Matt Forney for now (and in a reasonable universe, enough about Rush Limbaugh and Matt Forney forever.) Time to watch once more "The Marriage of Maria Braun" (yes, I'm still on my WWII Germany kick) and pull my Christmas lights out of the attic because God forbid I be the only house on my cul-de-sac without lights on it.