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Outrage porn refers to any type of media that is designed to evoke outrage for the purpose getting traffic or attention online. The term outrage porn was coined by political cartoonist and essayist Tim Kreider of The New York Times. Coined in 2009, the term was later popularized by author and Observer media critic Ryan Holiday.[not in citation given][not in citation given][not in citation given]
Outrage porn is a term used to explain media that is created not in order to generate sympathy, but rather to cause anger or outrage among its consumers. It is characterized by insincere rage, umbrage and indignation. Media outlets are often incentivized to feign outrage because it specifically triggers many of the most lucrative online behaviors, including leaving comments, repeat pageviews and social sharing, which the outlets capitalize on. Salon, Gawker and affiliated websites Valleywag and Jezebel have been noted for abusing the tactic.
Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on the spreadability of emotions via social media and concluded that, "Anger is a high-arousal emotion, which drives people to take action...It makes you feel fired up, which makes you more likely to pass things on.” Additionally, online audiences may be susceptible to outrage porn in part because of their feeling of powerlessness to managers, politicians, creditors and celebrities.
Tim Kreider makes a distinction between authentic outrage and outrage porn by stating, "I’m not saying that all outrage is inherently irrational, that we should all just calm down, that It’s All Good. All is not good...Outrage is healthy to the extent that it causes us to act against injustice.
Incidents resulting in widespread outrage porn
- 2014 celebrity photo hack
- Ashley Madison data breach
- Jonah Lehrer controversy
- The Obamas' purchase of Sunny (their dog).
- Kreider, Tim Isn’t It Outrageous? The New York Times. September 6, 2015
- Sauls, Scott Internet Outrage, Public Shaming and Modern-Day Pharisees Relevant Magazine. September 6, 2015
- Holiday, Ryan Outrage Porn: How the Need For 'Perpetual Indignation' Manufactures Phony Offense New York Observer. September 6, 2015
- Brendan, Michael Why we're addicted to online outrage The Week. September 6, 2015
- Lukianoff, Greg Curing Social Media of Its Outrage Addiction May Start on Campus Huffington Post. September 6, 2015
- Leibovich, Mark Fake Outrage in Kentucky New York Times. September 6, 2015
- Holiday, Ryan Rage Profiteers: How Bloggers Harness Our Anger For Their Own Gain New York Observer. September 6, 2015
- Daum, Meghan 'Jezebel Effect' poisons conversations on gender and sexual violence Los Angeles Times. September 13, 2015
- Young, Cathy Gawker & the Left's Selective Outrage Real Clear Politics]. September 14, 2015
- Shaer, Matthew What Emotion Goes Viral the Fastest? Smithsonian Magazine, September 14, 2015
- Herbert, Geoff Rooney Mara to play Tiger Lily in new 'Pan' movie? Outrage is all the rage nowadays Syracuse Post-Standard. September 14, 2015
- Holiday, Ryan Exclusive Interview: Meet Maddox, Owner of the Internet’s ‘Best Page in the Universe’ New York Observer. September 14, 2015
- Curry, Colleen Jonah Lehrer Joins Publishing's Most Notorious List ABC News. September 14, 2015
- Dreher, Rod ‘Outrage Porn': Manufacturing Indignation American Conservative. September 14, 2015
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