Michael got married Saturday.
The bride and groom were a lovely couple. It was a fairly small affair, held at the church. Friends and church members showed up. I wasn’t going to go, but they needed someone to pick up the cake and that wound up in my lap (as it were) so of course I stayed for the ceremony.
It was a nice cake, one of those three-layer jobs with chocolate-covered strawberries on the outside.
I was happy I wound up attending. It was a charming service, but then it was a lovely couple and, you know, you get older you appreciate this kind of thing more, crazy mixed-up kids trying to make sense of this crazy-mixed up world and all that. It was nice to participate in something with love at the center; it was nice to participate with a church community supporting two of its congregates.
Especially after a week where news-boy (that’s me) had to confront and travel through outrage society.
Sailors, the story goes, used to think an albatross was good luck. You see an albatross around your ship then it foretold a peaceful passage.
If the albatross came to harm, say a less-informed sailor shot it or something (you get pretty hungry sailing clipper ships across the ocean) the punishment would be for the person who killed the albatross to wear it around his neck.
It would be a burden, this albatross around your neck, and you could imagine climbing the rigging or whatever it is on those old-school ships with a big-ol’ bird hanging from your neck.
Hence the term for something being a burden: “An albatross around my [his, your] neck.”
Speaking of social media.
Social media allows on-the-whole unfettered and open commentary. It’s not without problems. Small towns which have lost their newspaper have found the community news groups on, for example, Facebook does an all-in-all terrible job of distributing news. And of course the outrage thing.
This week a large department store which also sells groceries, part of a global chain, went to self check-out of its items. This is true, this happened. What else happened is the Facebook citizen’s brigade absolutely flipped its lid, with one person even invoking shoot-’em-up violence over the change.
Let’s go ahead and be clear, heck, let’s make it a policy: Threatening violence over a change in check out procedure is way, way, way disproportionate to what is being confronted.
But then outrage culture.
The library, also this week, instituted some policies about employee clothing. It was less than a dress code but more than “wear whatever.”
Somehow, thanks to the joys of Facebook, this turned into charges the library was removing all Christian books and forbidding all Christian wear. (For the record, the library has removed zero books of any sort, and while there are clothing rules, the “Blesssed…” sort of attire remains permitted.)
People were outraged. But then outrage culture.
Y’all, we’ve covered it in this space before: Rage has an addictive quality due to its cocaine-like effects on your nervous system (I’m being serious) and because of that people will go out and find things to be enraged about.
Couple that with culture wars centered on, apparently, t-shirts and grocery scanners and the next poster being more enraged than the previous, just to prove membership in the tribe and … that’s my point, it’s getting exhausting.
The flipping out? The rage posting? The “I heard” nonsense? The taking a small thing and turning it into a huge thing?
Two things will happen: One, when something serious and important does come along, nobody will know to react because it’s just more outrage from the machine. “Oh that again, they do that.” Second, it is literally harmful to your health. It puts you in a stress state, the same thing heart attack people get into. Finally, most important, it improves nothing, no thing. Nothing is made better by this flipped-lid outrage.
And I thought about this, sitting in a pew and watching Michael get married. How people came together to help the lovely couple tie the knot. How a community, a group, working together can do something positive and lasting. That we, we humans, are better than the nonsense.
It was nice, sitting there in a pew watching love be expressed. It was both inspiring and restful. It was the opposite of outrage, and the sort of culture worth embracing.
Kienlen is the Editor of the Van Buren County Democrat