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Whether you consider yourself liberal or conservative, pro women’s rights or pro men’s rights, or you are a part of any religion or minority race on the planet, there is outrage porn available for you on the Internet. I’m here to help you identify and avoid it so you can enjoy a better life.

What’s “outrage porn”? It can be different for everyone, but the bottom line is it’s articles, pictures, cartoons or other media that is carefully crafted (either intentionally or not) to make people like you very offended, and very angry.

I had my own bout of outrage porn addiction during my Junior and Senior year at the University of Maine, and from that experience I learned that the only way to be happy and productive every day was to avoid that addiction, and instead focus on activities and media that is more inclusive and positive.

What is Outrage Porn to You?

It doesn’t matter who you are – your race, gender or creed – there’s something out there on the Internet that is sure to completely tick you off Tweeting While Female: Harassment, and How Twitter Can Fix It Tweeting While Female: Harassment, and How Twitter Can Fix It Twitter's abuse problem is real. Here are some examples, along with expert opinion on how Twitter can solve this. Read More .

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You’ve probably come across it at some point in your online travels. Maybe it’s a conservative friend’s Facebook post saying that President Obama hates all white people (an actual comment that the Governor of Maine actually said – not on Facebook). Maybe it’s a Tweet from a radical feminist saying the world would be a better place if men just didn’t exist (an actual comment from the editor of Ms. Magazine – not on Twitter).

The fact is, there are hateful, horrible people all over the Internet Why The Internet Provides A Thriving Environment For Hate & Trolling [Opinion] Why The Internet Provides A Thriving Environment For Hate & Trolling [Opinion] Aidan Dwyer entered and won a science competition. What happened next is something that those of us that have been on the Internet for a long time now would not find very surprising. The story... Read More , posting some pretty terrible things. They may not even be hateful, horrible people, and most people may not even find the things that they say that terrible – but the fact that you do is what really matters here.

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Reading these things will disrupt your daily life. You could react in various ways, all of ways which may destroy your day. You might get furious and spend half your afternoon crafting a particularly pointed and clever reply to that nasty blog post. Or, you might just let that disgusting Tweet crawl under your skin for the rest of the day, creating a depression that trashes your productivity for the entire afternoon.

Oddly enough, this cycle of fury-reaction-debate becomes addictive. Sometimes it’s so addictive that you’ll start to seek out articles, blog posts or social posts that make you outraged, just so you can launch into a vicious online debate with the writer and “put them in their place.”

The Psychology of Outrage Porn

Why is this behavior so habit forming?

The American Psychological Association calls what we are all experiencing – thanks to the Internet – the “Age of Outrage”.

“The difference is that in the new age of outrage, criticism on these issues quickly escalated to unwarranted heights. In 24/7 instant communications, extreme voices dominate. Moderate voices are lost in the noise.”

Believe it or not, there is an actual chemical reaction in your brain when you enter into a state of moral indignation.

Best-selling author David Brin described this high state of indignant arousal best in an interview with Wired.

We’ve all been in indignant snits, self-righteous furies. You go into the bathroom during one of these snits, and you look in the mirror and you have to admit, this feels great! ‘I am so much smarter and better than my enemies! And they are so wrong, and I am so right!'”

So, there are two parts to this addiction. There are the triggers, and then there’s the vehicle for the addiction. The vehicle is the Internet. There’s really no way to eradicate that from your life in order to stop this addiction to outrage. So what’s left? The first step is deciding that enough is enough.

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You have to decide that you can’t waste countless hours debating anonymous trolls Dealing With Online Haters: The Right Way & The Wrong Way Dealing With Online Haters: The Right Way & The Wrong Way What Anne Hathaway, Demi Lovato and Wal-Mart can teach you about dealing with trolls. Read More on the Internet, while your productivity goes down the tubes. You accomplish nothing with your moral indignation, except lost time.

So the only thing you can attack are the triggers. What triggers your outrage? It’s essentially your “sacred values” – those things where you believe the line should never be crossed. You should never blame the victim for rape. You should never have an abortion. You should never hit a child. You should never use derogatory racial slurs. The list goes on.

What are your sacred values? What topics get you furious whenever you see someone “cross the line”?

Art Markman Ph.D describes this on Psychology Today as follows.

A protected or sacred value is a belief or tenet that a person will not permit to be violated. For example, some people may treat life as sacred. Any discussion that involves taking a life crosses a moral boundary. Proposals that involve taking a life are met with outrage.”

Online trolls 5 Most Effective Ways To Deal With Arrogant Internet Trolls 5 Most Effective Ways To Deal With Arrogant Internet Trolls The Internet is without doubt a great invention. Unfortunately, no one so far has been able to develop and anti-troll device that will help to make it a more civilized place. You might have come... Read More have perfected the art of spotting these sacred values, and intentionally “crossing the line” just to spark your outrage. In effect, trolls are feeding your addiction, and you’re feeding theirs.

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The first step is understanding that not everyone in the world holds your sacred values, and if that makes you furious, then you’ve got some work to do in order to arrange your Internet usage in a way that doesn’t make you furious.

I should say this upfront: if you hold certain sacred values that the majority of people out there hold, this task will be much easier. There’s less that requires filtering. However, if you’re coming from a minority position, the job is harder – but not impossible.

How to Filter Out the Outrage

The Internet is filled with comments, articles and blog posts that are carefully crafted to draw in opposing viewpoints, spark outrage, and generate online debate. The bottom line in most of these cases is that your fury feeds the pageviews of these websites, which generates more ad revenue.

I’ll show you three important ways to filter the outrage out of your online life.

Blocking Websites

By now, you probably already have a long list of websites that inevitably get under your skin. Maybe it’s the far-right commentary of Fox News, or the catty, sexist jabs at men over on Jezebel. One of the best ways to eradicate these sites from your life forever is by blocking them with a browser add-on like Block Site.

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The Block Site addon lets you not only block sites from your Internet browsing, but if you inadvertently click a link that goes there, you can have Block Site redirect you to a website that you prefer.

Another technique is to create a custom search filter that blocks out the sites you don’t want to see for the most common terms that you tend to search for. For example, let’s say I’m very interested in gender equal rights, but I keep stumbling across certain websites that post troll-type articles meant to spark outrage. The easiest thing to do is type in the same search term, but strip those websites out of the results like so.

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In this case it would be “gender rights -jezebel.com -fox.com -rushlimbaugh.com -buzzfeed.com”.

These are the sites that usually get me pretty ticked off when it comes to these topics. Obviously, your search term and your list will be tailored specifically for your own “sacred values”. When some website tramples all over your sacred values, add them to this search filter. You can then save the filtered results by bookmarking the search results page.

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It’s very easy to create a folder of bookmarks with all of your favorite search terms, and it’s such an improved web browsing experience when all of those trollish websites (trollish to you, anyway) are eradicated from your search results. It’s a very vindicating experience to strip each website off using that filter. Try it!

Blocking Words

You can use the same advanced search approach for blocking words. For example, let’s say you frequently read articles about racial equality, but there are certain derogatory racial terms that really get you angry. You can eradicate an article (or post with comments) that use those terms from showing up in your results.

Just type the search term followed by the words preceded with a “-” symbol before them.

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Bookmark that search and you’re all done.

Of course, the Block Site add-on mentioned above is probably a much easier way to do this. There is a option in the settings to block specific words, not only blocking sites with a URL that has those words, but also blocking search results that contain those words.

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This is probably a better approach if you just want to filter specific terms from your search results regardless of what search term you’re using.

Blocking Offensive Social Posts

Of course, while the above solution will clean up your Internet browsing experience, what about your experience on social networks? Without a doubt, this is a place where a lot of outrage trolls have migrated to, so you’ll need a way to block those as well.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to customize your social experience with browser add-ons like Social Fixer to clean up your Facebook feed of posts with certain words. Just go to the app’s settings, click in “Filters”, and add the words for posts you want to hide.

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Or you can similarly filter Tweets containing certain words using the DeClutter bookmarklet tool for Twitter. You just go to the page and type the words you want to filter from your Twitter stream.

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Then drag the bookmarklet into your browser’s bookmarks bar and you’re done!

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The nice thing about all of these approaches is that you can gradually customize your online experience by filtering out more items whenever they appear in your Google Search results, in Facebook or on Twitter.

Over time as the trolls and the hateful content gets stripped away, your online experience becomes far more enjoyable, much more productive, and much less stressful.

Moving On and Living a Healthy Life

There are some who may say that discourse and debate is an important part of growing as an individual. While that may be true, the reality is that online discourse is rarely enlightening.

When you get two people at odds, who have two different set of sacred values, the odds of either person changing the other person’s mind is next to nil. The only outcome of most online debates is two angry people getting angrier, and an entire afternoon (or day) lost to a pointless debate The Internet Is Opinion Saturated And Why I Am Quitting The Debates [Opinion] The Internet Is Opinion Saturated And Why I Am Quitting The Debates [Opinion] The Internet is an interesting creature. I know I'm dating myself here, but sometimes I'm thankful that I had the opportunity during my life to personally experience the birth and growth of the Internet. Then,... Read More . Maybe, instead, you could spend your time online being a force for good How You Can Be a Force For Good In a World Filled With Online Trolls How You Can Be a Force For Good In a World Filled With Online Trolls Each of us can make the web better, simply by making an effort to post positive things throughout the Internet. Read More .

Have you ever found yourself getting addicted to outrage porn, searching for the next blog post or social update that would make you feel indignant and furious? Were you able to overcome your addiction? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. Roger Oveur
    November 14, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I pretty much have to just go live in the woods at this point to get away from angry people. The internet is available 24/7 and in people's pockets. No wonder it gets to their heads.

    For now I've decided to just retreat to my video collection of 1980s comedies and cartoon films, and hobbyist tinkering with vintage operating systems and classic games and software in VMs. I need a safe space to get away from the safe-spacers. Or space cadets.

    Might be worthwhile to apply this to the offline realm: put a parental block on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News and forget the password; cancel your local paper and national publications like the New York Times, the Guardian or Time magazine; and/or only subscribe to periodicals that don't deal with controversial hot-button issues in the news. Like Cat Fancy, the print version of cat videos. Or Highlights for Children... but then you might get roped into thinking of Goofus and Gallant in partisan terms...

  2. Craig Baker
    July 26, 2015 at 4:54 am

    I stopped following everyone/thing on facebook except my wife, I deleted my tumblr and twitter accounts, and I have yet to go on to instagram. i also deleted everyone from any friends list that was not a close friend of mine....no acquitances, no friends of friends....fixed a lot of my outrage, but not completely.....so yeah, got some things to work on.

  3. James Bruce
    June 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Easier to use Chrome Personal Blocklist (on Chrome, obviously). Give you a block link right in the results page. Simples. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/personal-blocklist-by-goo/nolijncfnkgaikbjbdaogikpmpbdcdef?hl=en

  4. jedievan
    June 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Reading this kind of stuff doesn't disrupt my daily life. I consider it to be a form of entertainment. Some of these groups - particularly radical feminists - are so bonkers that they can't be taken seriously.

  5. Robyn McIntyre
    June 12, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Ooooo - @Mengy Kun - way to exemplify a troll! Thanks for contributing to the article.

    Ryan - my problem is with my friends, who mean well, but spend most of their online life finding things to be outraged about and filling up their FB and Twitter feeds with them. I'm guessing they subscribe to some sites who are delighted to fill up their morning inboxes with fresh examples of outrageous happenings. They know when they post about them that they are preaching to the choir, but can't seem to help themselves. They say that they have an 'obligation' to tell people who might not have heard of the outrageous thing.

    I would love it if someone would come up with a way to coax these normally rational people back off the cliff because their relentless indignance is wearing on me.

  6. Susan Bellwood
    June 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I can't believe some of the crap people post to the internet. I am going to take advantage of Social Fixer which I did not know existed.

    • Craig Baker
      July 26, 2015 at 4:56 am

      i just read about the social fixer and installing it post-haste

  7. Kelsey Tidwell
    June 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

    My new response to trolls?

    http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-06-07

    No muss, no fuss! :)

  8. mengy kun
    June 12, 2015 at 2:19 am

    You *could* ignore them, and do nothing. Which is exactly how insidious agendas like radical feminism manage to slip in the mainstream media and culture.

    Because people do nothing, and allow degeneracy to flourish.

    Continue doing nothing, become pleasantly ignorant and finally enslaved to a future where your kids are emasculated, spineless cucks.

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