Sometimes I see blog posts that make me really sad at the state of journalism. PhilyMag is the latest but you have the follow the daisy-chain of ramped-up hyperbole back just to make see how ridiculous it is.
The restaurant chain Red Robin recently made a fifteen-second TV ad whose joke is that its veggie-burgers are perfect for customers whose teenage daughters are “going through a phase.” It’s had rather limited airplay (it’s the 450th or so most run ad in the past 30 days) but still, Business Insider ran a piece on it which claimed that “the chain managed to insult all potential vegetarian and vegan customers” with the ad. For evidence, it cited three mild comments on Red Robin’s Facebook page. Fair enough.
But then the page-view-whores at Huffington Post saw the BI piece and wrote that Red Robin is “under fire for dissing vegetarians,” still citing just those Facebook comments. Under fire? For three comments?
Sensing fresh (veggie?) meat, Phillymag links to HuffPost to claim that ”vegetarians and vegans far and wide are freaking out” and that a boycott has been declared. The author tells us that “‘Offended’ gets tossed around so rapidly” and it must be true, right?, as she uses it three more times just in her opening paragraph. It’s a pity that none of the three Facebook commenters were considerate enough to actually use the words “outrage” or “boycott.” One described the ad as “disappointing” (ouch!). Another used the word “dissatisfied” (zing!), though he was speaking not about the ad per se but rather a recent visit to the restaurant.
Seems like if there is an epidemic of offended-ness going on, we might take a look at the desperation of what passes for modern journalism these days. Offended-ness must get page views, so why not be offended at being offended? (I imagine some hack further down the pageview food chain is right now reading the Phillymag piece and typing out a headline about the worldwide vegan army issuing a fatwa on the teenage daughters of Red Roof executives.) Is this really the kind of crap that people like to share on Facebook? Do Internet users just not follow links backward to judge if there’s any truth to outrage posts on outrage? I usually ignore this kind of junk even to read past the ridiculous headline. But the phenomenon is all too ubiquitous on the interwebs these days and is really so unnecessarily divisive and stereotype-perpetuating.