When you can’t muster outrage

I like to read. I’m not a fast reader, but I read every day. I read novels. I read the Bible. I read devotionals. And I read articles.

There’s a lot of articles out there. A quick scroll through my Facebook feed will produce dozens of thinkpieces on the latest politics (depressing), state of the environment (depressing), sex scandals (depressing), parenting trends (judgmental), health craze (unwise), pop cultural phenomena (with 2,000 words of analysis through whatever lens du jour) and so on and so forth. I like to read, I like to be informed, but I find it all so… exhausting.


From the always great xkcd.

In a given day, I may find no fewer than a dozen articles with varying degrees of outrage directed at GMOS, Donald Trump, formula feeding, climate change (probably also Trump), sex trafficking, abortion, and Star Wars.

It’s… tiring. I fit all of the textbook criteria for an HSP- a highly sensitive person. This is a real scientific definition for someone who processes information emotionally and is easily overwhelmed by the information they take in. In other words, I feel things. I feel a lot of things. I’m extremely emotional and extremely sensitive. Horrible news stories about children starving in Venezuela are very present and real to me, and my husband has found me more than once clutching our son and sobbing over something happening far away in the world that I have zero control over. And I don’t want to become desensitized. I don’t want to stop caring about these children in far away places. Just as I also don’t want to stop caring about the human impact on the environment or women’s rights or advocating for babies or minorities or the disabled. I don’t want to stop demanding better from the world and from myself.

But I can’t muster anymore outrage. I’m exhausted by it. I am up late caring for a child and meeting work deadlines. I can’t approach every topic with a default of righteous anger. I don’t have the energy.

Don’t get me wrong. I care about how Star Wars portrays women, I do. But I can’t work up the same amount of anger over it that I feel over starving children. When every article in my feed, every day, is spewing spittle with the same vehemence regardless of whether it’s over movies or global injustice, I find myself exhausted before we even begin. I want to close the computer and go lie back down. But I do want to have these conversations about movies too. I want to have intelligent discussions about WHY Star Wars makes us (or doesn’t make us) feel things. But I can’t have them with the same intensity as I want to talk about what is happening in Venezuela. When everything calls for outrage and boycotts and screaming matches, I want to quit. I want to give up on the internet and go hide in a nature preserve with a pile of books like I’m in friggin’ Walden.

But I can’t. Because I care about the world and what’s going on in it. I just can’t feel so much outrage. There’s got to be a more subtle range of emotions out there.


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