Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching—the sound of a cash register—used to be the marker of sales and profits. Today, we hear the quiet click, click, click of a mouse button screaming in the world of money making. This change is especially true regarding the media-driven sale of advertising and the outrage that is used to fuel them. Allow me to explain.
Due to technological advancements, ours is a world now inundated with information. As I wrote in my recent book, Say Goodbye to Regret—Discovering the Secret to a Blessed Life:
In his 1989 book, Information Anxiety, Richard S. Wurman stated that a single issue of the New York Time contains more information than a person in the seventeenth-century Victorian era would have processed in an entire lifetime.
Wow! Think about that for a moment. One day’s worth of information compared to an entire lifetime! And Wurman wrote his book in 1989; computing capacity has multiplied almost exponentially since that time.
It is no wonder that many of us find ourselves overwhelmed and anxious, but information overload is also a reason that we are often filled with outrage. Due to so much available content, the competition for our attention might be compared to a pack of hungry dogs chasing after a steak. Those who profit from the proliferation of information want their share of the profits, and they are willing to go to extreme measures to get them.
While waiting in the grocery checkout aisle, we often see sensational tabloid headlines.
- “Woman Gives Birth to Three-Headed Alien”
- “Half-Man Half-Dog Baffles Doctors”
- “Hubby’s Bad Breath Kills His Wife.”
We have always known these articles to be pure fabrication, but the papers continue to sell because people continue to buy them for their outrageous ideas.
Online, the situation is far more crowded. In addition to an ever-growing social media landscape, we are bombarded with informational articles of all sorts. Gone are the days when a million-dollars-worth of equipment was needed to publish an article. Now anybody (myself included) can publish with a basic computer and an online connection. To draw people to our sites, we often resort to headlines that emotionally engage our audience but offer little substance in return. We call those headlines clickbait.
- “An Amazing Life Hack!”
- “Your Jaw Will Drop!”
- “What Happened Next Blew My Mind!”
- “OMG, This Changes Everything!”
Practically any form of sensation will sell, but some methods of grabbing our attention do far more damage than others. This is particularly true of headlines and articles that fuel the flames of outrage.
- “’Latte Salute’ Proves Obama’s Low Regard for Military!”
- “Donald Trump Kicks Baby Out of Political Rally!”
- “Millionaire Joel Osteen’s Closes Church to Hurricane Harvey Flood Victims!”
Do you see it? It is not just the activist push for change that has contributed to the toxicity of our social environment, but also the quest for profits. If a headline can generate outrage in our hearts, it will also capture our mouse click, thereby increasing advertising revenue.
Once again, we are being duped by both the right and the left, and the collective cost is huge. If we care about people, there are undoubtedly times that we will (and should) be outraged. At the same time, continually raging emotions create toxic environments and lead to poor decisions.
Love absolutely must embrace elements of passion and empathy, but without the wisdom to understand and navigate our times, we will have no peace. May the Lord fill our hearts with both compassion and insight as we seek to rise above the rage of human emotions!