Right now, everyone hates Logan Paul and we all seem OK with that. But it’s not healthy for us.
If you are unfamiliar with Paul and the controversy he unleashed on YouTube, please read this post from Chris Martin. It summarizes the rise of the YouTube star and the consequences of his style of entertainment.
Let me say from the beginning, in capitalizing on death and commercializing controversy, Paul deserves the critique and criticism he has received.
Much of the online uproar, however, went beyond evaluating what Paul did to undermining his worth as a person. Similar to the way he dehumanized the suicide victim he found in the Japanese forest, many have dismissed the YouTube star’s humanity.
He’s not the only one to receive such treatment. We have an unhealthy social media pattern. He’s simply the latest recipient of the outrage.
In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, one of the ways in which the totalitarian government keeps the people under their control is the Two Minutes Hate.
Citizens are riled up with audio and visual signals until the image of an enemy of the state is shown on the screen. At this point, the viewers are at a fever pitch.
In the book, Orwell describes it this way:
The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.
That has become much of social media today. We have a regular occurrence of the Two Minutes of Hate.
Last week, it was Logan Paul. This week, someone new will emerge—potentially a previously unknown individual—and the internet will join in without even being told.
We’ll feel the need to share why we too despise the person who has become the avatar of all that is wrong with the world, the object of our hate.
This won’t be about critiquing wrong actions or false perspectives. This is about unleashing our emotions on to the next unwilling victim, regardless of how guilty they actually are.
In 1984, the government incites these events because they keep the public distracted and under control. The people can’t stop and think about how oppressive the government is if all their emotions are spent raging during the Two Minutes Hate.
Today, we do it all ourselves. Orwell worried about a public enslaved by an all-powerful government seeking to exploit emotions for their gain. He didn’t imagine a people enslaving themselves to entertainment and frivolity looking for an outlet to their emotions.
We have to share our feelings on Facebook. We must note our outrage on Twitter. It becomes “impossible to avoid joining in.”
Different groups will pick certain people and decide something they said or did is worth unrelenting outrage.
It will spread among other like-minded individuals who will work themselves up into a frenzy to express just how much they dislike that person. The whole thing becomes almost a competition to see who can be the most outraged or say they are the most offended.
If you look on social media right now, I’m sure you can find one or two examples of this happening at this moment. Someone has become the cultural whipping boy and everyone is taking their turn with the verbal lashes.
All the while, we foster hate in our hearts instead of love. We train ourselves to see the flaws and dismiss the humanity of those with whom we disagree.
Our emotions are spent on outrage, our energy on anger and there’s nothing left to devote to positive causes.
Instead of seeking to love our neighbors and work toward the flourishing of our communities, instead of attempting to address real issues of our world, we get caught up in the social media controversy of the day.
The Two Minutes Hate sucks us in and before we know, as Orwell rightly observed, we will transfer the rage to the next object chosen. Who is today?
Logan Paul deserves to be criticized, but not destroyed. And not used to help us feel superior.
At the end of it all, that’s what most of it is about. If we join the crowd in destroying another person, we feel as if we know there’s someone else we’re better than.
Our two minutes of social media hate are really about proving to ourselves that we have value by dismissing the value of someone else.
But our worth will not increase one bit by attempting to ignore the inherent humanity in someone else. We only serve to decrease society’s recognition of it as a whole, including our own lives.
Be different. Choose a less traveled path.
It doesn’t mean you cannot critique, but it does mean you avoid dismissing the humanity of others. You aren’t anxious to attack, but seeking to encourage.
If you do criticize, you want to do so redemptively, keeping the humanity of the other person in mind and keeping humility at the forefront of your mind.
Two Minutes of Hate may be temporary, but the impact it has on your heart can be much longer.