Social Issues

Dismissing Criticism As Outrage Helps No-One

Disclosure: I don’t follow the work of Jon Faine nor Chris Uhlmann. And, while I am friends with Carly Findlay on social media, I frequently disagree with some of her disability advocacy work. I say this to provide context to my argument.

Yesterday, Carly Findlay was interviewed by Jon Faine on the subject of microaggressions. He:

  • Asked whether she could have sex. This was after she had bought it up as an example of a microaggression
  • Suggested her skin issues might be fun at Halloween
  • Dismissed her comments about how prayers can be hurtful.

This post isn’t about those comments. While I perceive these as microaggressions, I am not informed enough about disability and behaviour. This is because my disability is largely invisible and I rarely face hurtful comments.

This post is about how any criticism is being dismissed as social media outrage.

Ironically, I believe that we live in an outrage culture — one where the loudest voice wins. I think it’s bullshit and that social media is complicit in perpetuating such behaviour. Look at the tweet below:

Jon Faine is a friend and a kind and decent man. I seriously doubt his intention was to offend or commit vile acts of “microaggression”. But its all fodder for the social media engine of perpetual outrage

— Chris Uhlmann (@CUhlmann) March 29, 2018

This is not social media outrage, not even close. Dismissing it as such brings harms to those who are routinely threatened for daring to speak publicly. This is a marginalized community pointing out that this specific behaviour is perpetuating a problem. They are pointing out the irony of unintentional microaggressions during an interview about that very subject.

People aren’t offended for the sake of being offended. As Carly points out all the time, she faces this behaviour on a regular basis. No-one is asking for Faine to be sacked. They are asking that he learns from this behaviour for future interviews.

Kind, decent people make mistakes. They always will. This is especially so when you are a public figure that makes regular broadcasts. You can advocate for your friends without dismissing very real issues.