Twitter Rage Antidote, by Sagan

I recently perused a relative’s Twitter feed, surveying the particular brand of rage that seems to fuel his worldview. And more recently still, I saw an interview with a professor who does research on the addictive nature of outrage, and how the anger products being offered online come to create a junkie-itch in their audiences. Rage becomes a need and a want. There are so many for whom this engine of corrosion is a financial boon. People have their anger because it is profitable to a particular industry. I wish there was more that bystanders could do to help their family and friends. Because the outrage and malice out there points ever more strongly toward growing division, decay, violence, and conflagration.

As a possible antidote, I offer the poignant observations by Carl Sagan as relayed in the video below, penned long before there was such a thing as Twitter. The context for his words is described on Wikipedia:

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles)…

In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight reflected by the camera…

Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of astronomer and author Carl Sagan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

Original Image:

Comments

  1. Interesting post. Like other addictions, the addict is left with nothing when the initial buzz wears off.

    Outrage is everywhere we turn these days. It’s no longer only a political phenomenon and I find it extremely tiring.

    I’ve been hoping it would soon go out of fashion but your post would indicate that it’s here to stay for a while. Maybe we need surgeon general warnings on tweets and news channels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It summons a range of considerations regarding free market dynamics. The market can only respond to feedback mechanisms that exist. Right now there are no real drawbacks / penalties for those selling outrage. But if they became financially responsible for the downstream “pollution” caused by their products, then the market could self correct and moderate. Right now it seems to be a runaway self-feeding reaction, which is fairly classic for inadequately priced-in phenomenology. So I keep thinking, how — as with environmental pollution, carbon emissions, etc. — can producers of outrage come to be on the hook for the toxicity they pump out?

      Liked by 2 people

    • One Twitter feed that stood out to me was Candace Owens. She is new to me, but a positively relentless fountain of outrage…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sounds nasty. I’ve checked out of such subcultures, immediately disconnecting when I stumble upon people like Owens. But I’m glad people like you are paying attention.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The net is at once wonderful and ghastly. I find it hard to even watch CNN these days as they spend so much time “talking” about the insane outrage over on Fox.

    As for Sagan… It still amazes me that he had to fight tooth and nail to get Voyager turned around to take that one photograph. No one on the NASA team had even considered doing it.

    Hope you and the [sane side of the] family are doing well, Mat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi John,

      Yep, doing pretty well. The COVID taper is a good thing. Got double-shot, and most of my coworkers. Lot of family on both sides are not getting vaxed. Not a lot to be said there, but a testament to the right wing media I suppose.

      Other than that, lot of work, lot of science, etc.

      Back to Sagan. That guy amazes me. He managed to keep pressing for bettering humanity and never seemed to fall to rancor. Truly loved science and wanted to lower any barriers to getting others to love it too. An amazing thing. I’ve wondered how he would have handled COVID communication.

      How you been?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Been good, but becoming surrounded by many aging animals, so it’s becoming a bit of a hospice around here.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh? How many we talking?

          Like

          • Sick right now? Three. Had mobile x-ray and ultrasound people around today at the house. Really thought this would be the last night with our king shepherd, Boris. He’s paralysed in the back… BUT we might be able to operate.

            13 animals here, and about half of them are getting to ‘that age’. I knew this period was coming, but it’s really hard.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Matt and John,

      Matt, I shall be grateful if you could kindly provide the URL(s) pertaining to the “interview with a professor who does research on the addictive nature of outrage, and how the anger products being offered online come to create a junkie-itch in their audiences”, as I am still expanding on the section called “Hype, Bias, Affect : Appeal to Emotion & Lazy Thinking” in my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“, and I would like to determine whether the professor’s work is relevant to the said section, or to any of the other eleven sections for that matter.

      Yes, Sagan had been such a wonderful human being that we desperately need more people like him nowadays, people who can inspire others so amicably and commendably.

      I have read many of his books, including “The Demon-Haunted World” and “Project Blue Book”. I read these books a long time ago, and thus feel delighted and also very nostalgic that Matt embedded the YouTube video containing Sagan’s words of enduring significance.

      His message about the “Pale Blue Dot” provides such a lovely, grand and unifying prose to prompt us to do something about being good earthlings and cultivating critical thinking! His words always elicit in me a feeling of nostalgia, humility and profundity. Needless to say, this message is presented as the very last quotation in my expansive multimedia post about Earth Day at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/soundeagle-in-earth-day/

      What an inspirational life Sagan had! The series “Cosmos” is such a watershed for its breadth and depth, not to mention Vangelis’ music. As you probably already know, Neil deGrasse Tyson, a scientist who greatly admires the late Carl Sagan, has presented the new series of “Cosmos”.

      I also own the book entitled “Carl Sagan: A Life” by Keay Davidson. Given that you like to learn and quote so much about Sagan, I wonder whether you have come across or read the book.

      Happy Juneteenth Day to both of you!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      Liked by 1 person

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