Here’s a question for you:
What do angry Daily Mail readers have in common with people that hate the Daily Mail?
Answer: they’re both outraged.
And here’s the thing. I’m starting to suspect that they might secretly enjoy being outraged.
Ryan Holliday uses the term outrage porn to describe how the media keeps its jaded and frazzled readership hooked on a constant stream of Dog bites Man (or tennis player shouts at umpire) non-stories:
Outrage has slowly eaten online media from the inside out. What was once a righteous and necessary force—a check on softball reporting inside old media—is now a corrupt and lazy vice. The outrage you see isn’t real, it isn’t sincere. In fact, it is the opposite. It’s shallow, it’s superficial and it’s selfish.
Remember that the next time you click a headline and find yourself getting pissed off.
Unfortunately it seems like the stream of outrage-based news has trained people to enjoy their outrage. It seems to have turned into a bit of an addiction for many.
I should declare my (lack of) interest in the media. I don’t read the news. As I’ve said before, no news is good news. Most of The News is toxic for your mental health. The News distorts and heightens people’s view of risk (if it bleeds it leads).
So it was strange when last week The Escape Artist was accused on the internet of aiding and abetting the Evil Empire of the Daily Mail.
I don’t read the Daily Mail. I’ve never been interviewed by the Daily Mail. I’ve never written for the Daily Mail. I’ve never been paid by the Daily Mail (although I’d be happy for them to remedy this shocking state of affairs). I didn’t even read last week’s Daily Mail article featuring The Escape Artist….before or after publication. They wrote it without my input based on information in the public domain. And that’s fine.
The mere mention of the Daily Mail seems to trigger virtue-signalling from a section of the muesli-eating middle class. What is virtue signalling? Its a form of showing off. If you remember Smashee and Nicey and ALL THEIR GREAT WORK FOR CHARITY…which they don’t like to talk about…then you understand virtue signalling.
As Naval Ravikant so concisely puts it :
Virtue signalling is a vice
Virtue signallers are a competitive bunch and mentioning The Mail seems to set off a bidding war of who can be most stridently against its ABHORRENT content, which has probably KILLED MORE KITTENS than cat flu and is LITERALLY WORSE THAN HITLER yadda yadda yadda…
Some of the objections were
spun couched in terms of concern for immigrants. I don’t know about that (I don’t read it). But I did see the positive piece that The Mail did featuring my friend and fellow blogger Ken Okoroafor, who is an immigrant.
Its interesting how those shouting about the evils of the Daily Mail seem to know so much about a publication they claim never to read. Methinks they doth protest too much.
Meanwhile….at the same time as The Escape Artist was being accused of being a stooge of the Daily Mail… over on the Mail website the readers were leaving angry comments about…you guessed it…The Escape Artist. Apparently, at last count there were 11 pages of comments howling outrage at the concept of financial independence in general and The Escape Artist in particular.
How do I know that if I don’t read the Daily Mail? Well, people told me. This is the thing about not following the news…if something relevant to you happens, someone will tell you.
What they told me was that according to the comments:
- Apparently The Escape Artist was born rich and is a symbol of something called “White Privilege”(?) and The Establishment.
- And, at the same time, The Escape Artist must have achieved FI by living in grinding poverty: re-using teabags and his underwear multiple times between washes.
Either of these lines of attack could be true I suppose…but it seems unlikely that they’d BOTH be true.
Here’s how SurreyBoy put it in a comment over at Monevator:
I have just read page 1 (of 11) of the comments in the Daily Mail about the Escape Artist article. Some had me laughing out loud. My favourite was that his kids would hate him and make sure to pick the cheapest care home for him.
Ninety nine per cent of those comments are from people who will spend every last penny on things they don’t need. Who on earth could live on £25k they cry? Well, with no mortgage, no income tax, no consumer tat, just about anyone I would have thought.
I was somewhat annoyed to read this as I had specifically told my kids NOT to comment on that Daily Mail article.*
The Escape Artist believes in free speech. This includes the right of Keyboard Warriors to run their mouths off (elsewhere) on the internet about pretty much anything they want…even if that means slagging me off.
But here’s the thing. Over the years, I’ve noticed that in life there are 2 types of people: the talkers and the doers. Talkers talk and doers do.
At work, we all know those people that run their mouths off in meetings, always seem to be in transmit mode, never in receive. They are long on noise, long on promises and short on delivery.
And then we also know those people that just seem to quietly get on with the job. They keep their head down and keep grafting away. And, over time, they get the results. Remember the Tortoise and the Hare?
You don’t get into FI club by talking about FI club. Nor by arguing on the internet. You get into FI club by working hard, saving hard and investing wisely. Its a marathon not a sprint and so getting to financial independence is temperamentally suited to people who get their head down and grind out the reps. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.
No one said it was gonna be easy. We all have only so much time, so much energy and so much headspace. Pursuing FI means allocating those scarce resources as effectively as possible. Getting outraged by stuff in the news and arguing on the internet are forms of self-sabotage.
Good people who have their shit together don’t lash out. Those people that lash out do so from weakness not from a position of strength. As Ed Latimore puts it: people who are busy winning don’t have time to get offended.
So the question I have for the Virtue Signallers and the Keyboard Warriors is this:
How’s that whole outrage thing working out for you?
The answer, I suspect, is not very well. It must be exhausting to go from one media scare story to the next on an emotional rollercoaster of fear, outrage, denial, acceptance and then back to fear and outrage again. That shit is not good for anyone’s mental health. And, quite frankly, its distracting the office workers at the companies I own in the Vanguard All World ETF. I’d like them all to get back to work please.
Its a good rule of thumb to set your own house in order before criticising how the rest of the world works. That may be setting the bar high…after all, who has everything in their life in perfect order? I certainly don’t. But its a good target to aim for.
One of the most common excuses you hear as to why people haven’t sorted out their pension or ISA is that they’ve been too busy. Really? Too busy to save hundreds of thousands of pounds of fees over a lifetime?
If you are too busy to have sorted out your pension and got your investment program set up on automatic pilot, then you’re too busy to be arguing on the internet. If you are too busy to track your spending and see where does it all go?, then you’re too busy to be arguing on the internet.
To put it positively: cutting out internet arguments is an example of The Aggregation of Marginal Gains. It may seem like a small step forward but the productivity gains and spin-off benefits are surprisingly big over time.
So how do we go from being snowflakes that scream outrage on the internet to resilient achievers that get shit done in the real world?
Remember the post about What does “doing the work” mean? Here, “doing the work” means understanding what raw spots / weak points we have from our past (often going back to childhood and your money blueprint) and understanding why we are so easily triggered.
The School of Life video below is an excellent place to start.
You’re welcome. 😉
*The Escape Artist reserves the right to recycle his jokes, packaging and tea bags
Reminder! FI London meet up Friday 19 October from 5.30pm onwards in The Old Bank of England pub, Fleet Street. More details here. All welcome. Hope to see you there 🙂