Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Every day, it seems, there is something new we’re supposed to be upset about.

Over Super Bowl weekend, it was this Coke video, causing a few to spout umbrage and the many to spout umbrage over the original umbrage.

(In this case, the umbrage appears to be sponsored by Progressive.com, though it’s likely they’re just spot-sponsoring just about every video CNN produces so we shouldn’t assume that Flo either approves of or takes umbrage at the umbragic brouhaha.)

Today it’s a tweet by Stephen King, who is begging for mercy, being new at the whole Twitter thing.

It’s perfectly fair to have opinions about things. But as we share those opinions, and as we read them, we ought to be ready to read what’s said and either dismiss it as nothing worth our time or at least have a reasonable discourse about it. Of course, the way our national media and social media are set up, it’s a lot more fun to let things just get up our noses and stay there.

Part of the problem is that the umbrage over the umbrage gets applied wider and wider and wider until we go from understanding the upset belonged to a few people to believing the upset belongs to a larger group. I’ve seen this Coke ad thing explode from “a few” to “some” to suddenly “conservatives” all hating on the ad, which is false. But the umbrage over the umbrage of a tiny few too often spills over into latent umbrage against a larger group which, of course, makes everything easier and encourages everyone to want to talk things out over a beer, doesn’t it?

Getting upset feels like we’re doing something. But it’s doing nothing. It’s the equivalent of yawning after someone else yawns. It’s contagious, but doesn’t really do anything for us but get more oxygen in us for the next time we have to get mad about something. It’s clear proof that we’re not listening to what the other has to say, just getting ready with our own retort while they’re still talking.

I’m as guilty as the next ass, I know. I’m cutting back on the umbrage I spew and concentrating more on listening and agreement, even if that agreement is an agreement to disagree.

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