Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Are you Addicted to Outrage?

In social media videos, there are always certain hooks that cycle through in popularity–things people say at the beginning of a video on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok that make people watch the whole clip instead of scrolling through. For example:

Here’s what you’re gonna want to do…

Here’s how you can…

Do you want to be able to…

Lately, I’ve been seeing, “I know this is going to make some of you mad” quite a bit, so I posted this video on TikTok.

Am I being hyperbolic by calling outrage an addiction? Addiction involves chasing a high that ultimately leaves you feeling worse–and even though you know that, deep down you really don’t want to change. So yeah, people are addicted to outrage.

And this addiction is no respecter of race, gender, sexuality, religion or political party. It can affect and afflict anyone. As I mention in the above video, I see it a lot in folks who labor to make the world a more just, peaceful and equitable place for all.

There is a LOT to be angry about in this world, and there are times when it is appropriate to show that anger (even Jesus had those table turning moments). But we can walk a thin line between fighting to make the world a better place and fighting because we’ve come to love the fight. When we spend too much time engaged in the latter, we’ve already begun to lose the battle for whatever we were fighting for in the first place.

That the amount of time we spend online instead of interacting face-to-face has only increased due to the pandemic has made it easier to slip into outrage mode. It’s much easier to go off on a stranger who is half-a-country away than to do the same with someone at your dinner table. There is much that is good and beneficial about social media, but it also can bring out the worst in the best of us.

I don’t have the cure for outrage addiction (although you can check out my suggestions from a 2017 post), but I’m pretty sure that, as in all addictions, admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.


Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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