Over the last few years, Internet outrages and controversies have become as part of the fabric of the Net as cat pictures and silly GIFs. It seems like every other day, someone is taking a self-righteous stand against some made up indignity, tilting at windmills and bellowing “Think of the children!” like Mrs. Lovejoy. It’s, uh, it’s not fun. And to highlight the absurdity of it all, we thought we’d take a look back, gather up the worst of the worst, and bring you eight of the most ridiculous Internet outrages ever.
Yes, this delightful hashtag popped up not long ago and naturally, everyone went nuts. Feminists did their thing, feminist haters did their thing and everyone looked like a goddamn idiot. That’s because this was an epic troll-job by the boys at 4chan, who managed to shine a light on the inanity of nearly everyone involved. The most telling thing about it all was that even though it was completely insane – a feminist campaign to end Father’s Day because of the patriarchy, rape culture, and all those old classics – people actually believed that it could be real. That’s how nuts you’ve all gotten. Congratulations.
Oh god, remember Kony? Wait… who’s Kony again and why do we hate him? It seemed like something that no one ever quite figured out, but that didn’t stop everyone from jumping on the hashtag justice bandwagon as they demanded that, uh, something happen to stop/free/Bieberize some dude named Kony. It was a triumph of the absurd, and waaaaay too many people participated wholeheartedly simply because it was what everyone else was doing. This was the mob in all its idiotic glory.
6. The Lunatic Fringe
Rather than one incident, this is something that has been going on since the internet began. Back in its infancy, this took the form of rambling conspiracy theories about President Bill Clinton, most of which painted him as some weird cross between Caligula, Dracula and Al Capone. That set the template for everything to follow, from the BushHitler years to the awakening of the tea party and its constant e-mail forwarding campaign to bring awareness to the fact that Barack Obama is indeed a black dude. Gasp! Most depressingly of all, this has spilled over from the internet to become the way we talk about politics in general in this country, and it’s hard to see it ever changing or getting better.
5. Commercial Outrage
Yeah, people get legitimately upset these days about TV commercials. I know, man, I don’t get it either. Whether it’s dumbasses on the right flipping out because they dare to speak Spanish in a Coke commercial about ‘Murica, or whether it’s the background cast of the movie PCU becoming sentient and complaining about some kid kissing the prom queen in a car commercial because it promotes rape culture, commercials have become yet another battleground in that tiresome culture war in which the only real winners are idiocy and fake outrage, and the losers are, well, everybody.
4. Duck Dynasty
It’s become routine these days for some celebrity or anyone vaguely in the news really to say something controversial and then for the mob to descend on him and demand that he gets strung up in the town square. And that’s what happened to Phil Robertson, patriarch of the moronic Duck Dynasty clan, when he basically said he wasn’t down with gay dudes. OMG! Local idiot says something dumb, alert the news! Of course, that then led to an even dumber backlash, in which Christian Conservatives made it their mission to stand up for ol’ Phil’s freedom of speech even though that didn’t really apply here since that’s a protection against government censorship, and… you know what, let’s not go over all this again. It was irritating enough the first time, and if you had a strong opinion one way or another, you are very likely part of the problem.
3. Patton Oswalt Trolls So Hard
Like many, Patton Oswalt has become fed up with the constant outrage/bullshit forced apology cycle which has come to dominate the Internet. And so he took it upon himself to “apologize” for a series of insensitive tweets which he “deleted.” One problem… none of those tweets ever actually existed. That still didn’t stop people from becoming outraged over it, which… uh, is this really what it has come down to? People seemed to be angry because Patton Oswalt was pointing out that their outrage tends to be hollow and based on blowing up a kernel of controversy into the worst thing since Hitler ate babies on 9/11. And so they fought back by, well, by getting angry over something hollow and based on a nonexistent bit of controversy planted by a dude deliberately trying to troll them into doing just that. Well played, everyone. Well played. Now please go away.
2. Cancel Colbert
This delightful hashtag sprang up after a perceived racist tweet from The Colbert Report twitter account showed up online. Of course, the tweet itself was actually a line from that night’s episode, which in typical Colbert fashion, was actually making fun of racists. But the outrage machine was off to the races and no explanation in the world was going to stop them from being self-righteous and indignant. Even after it was explained and the context was made clear and obvious, it sparked a debate about comedy in which I actually saw someone ask “If comedy can be taken the wrong way and offend, then maybe we shouldn’t have comedy.” I, uh… what? Seriously, what the hell? I can’t even go on. It’s too stupid. You’re all stupid.
1. Constant Witch Hunts
There are simply too many idiotic controversies and fake outrages to discuss here, and so let’s just commemorate them all here, like a mass grave for the terminally stupid. Every day, someone is flipping out on the Internet over something dumb, something utterly inconsequential, and every day there is a mob just sitting around waiting for this to happen, so that they can channel whatever rage they have bottled up inside of them, and project whatever they dislike about their own life, onto some poor fool who failed to be perfect for just a moment. It sucks, because there is real pain in the world, real suffering, and all this fake outrage and constant witch hunting does is dull people’s senses to it. Instead of raising awareness, it just hardens hearts. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. After a while, no one is listening. These fake outrage addicts have completely hijacked genuine social justice, and perhaps that is the biggest outrage of them all.