We had this thing in the military called proportionality (one of the components of military necessity). To put it simply, we weren’t supposed to use an excessive amount of force against enemy combatants. If the target was just one dude with an AK-47, calling in artillery was probably the wrong call if there were other, less extreme methods available. The principle applies to law as well. The punishment should fit the crime.
This is all reasonable. Since being reasonable is one of my 10 core values, I think it’s important to consider this concept with regards to how we response to different stimuli. To be specific, I’m talking about outrage.
It seems like everyone gets outraged at everything. All the time.
But is that reasonable? Is it really the appropriate response? It’s really easy to react with emotion, and it’s also easy to justify those responses with logical judo. We simply blame the other person. When you blame the other person for your response, you’re basically saying, “He made me do it.” That shit doesn’t fly anywhere else, so why do we allow it on Twitter and Facebook?
The reason we respond unreasonably is because, well, we aren’t reasoning. We are using our emotions. A small dose of thought would easily reveal such a response as being unjust (Justice being one of the four Cardinal Virtues). It is unjust — not fair — to the other person to respond disproportionately, no matter how good we may feel while doing it. And let’s not kid ourselves here. We are deriving satisfaction from hurting someone else, regardless of the intellectual gymnastics we employ to make it seem okay. The worst part, in my opinion, is that the people who seem to do this the most are also the ones who claim to be the most compassionate.
That’s not compassion. It’s cruelty. Think about that the next time you feel the urge to shame someone for some perceived indiscretion. That if you’re outraged enough to throw your two cents in, your shame, your ire, there are likely thousands of others doing the same. Is that really reasonable? At what point does online shaming go too far?
Another thing about disproportionate response is that we waste a lot of energy doing it (assuming we even need to respond at all). Every ounce of effort you put out that exceeds what is reasonable is self-induced stress. This ties right into the 6th principle, which is simplifying life by reducing the things we stress about. Think back on the military necessity concept. Dropping a bomb that cost $100,000 on one individual when a bullet costs $.10 is excessive and a tremendous waste of resources all the way around. Blowing shit out of proportion is a waste of your own energy that could be better utilized someplace else.
If something really doesn’t warrant a response, don’t give one. Especially don’t posture and try to intimidate people just to make yourself look tough. That makes you a pussy.
A lion doesn’t go around roaring at flies. -Athenatos