Frankly, my dear, who gives a damn?

Britt McHenry, in a more civil moment, interviews the Baltimore Ravens' Steve Smith, September 2014. (AP Photo / Nick Wass)

Britt McHenry, in a more civil moment, interviews the Baltimore Ravens’ Steve Smith, September 2014. (AP Photo / Nick Wass)

I watched the video, which you can find elsewhere on the Interwebs, of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berating an employee of the company that towed her car. It was awful: No matter how badly the company or even the employee might have treated her, there’s really no excuse for saying the things McHenry said to another person. But I couldn’t quite get to the same level of outrage about McHenry or the relatively short length of her suspension from the network (one week) that you’ll find if you click her hashtagged name on social media.

Then I started reading about the blowback against McHenry’s critics, and how we’re so eager to be outraged about things, and how none of us would want our worst moments in public to go viral the way this video did, and how the particular company in question (and possibly that specific employee) have a reputation for being as vile to customers as McHenry was to them, and how there’s a reason the video in question was edited to include only McHenry’s words and not those of the employee, and how maybe ESPN shouldn’t have suspended her at all. But I couldn’t quite get to the same level of outrage about the blowback to the blowback as some people have, either.

I did, however, start to wonder this: Whatever happened to plain, old-fashioned who gives a damn?

It is safe to say that an infinitesimal percentage of the people commenting on this story have ever met McHenry or the unnamed employee. An only slightly larger number of these people have had an interaction with the towing company in question. A somewhat larger number of these people live in the Washington, D.C., area and/or plausibly know someone who knows someone who knows one of the people involved.

The rest of us were simply making our way through life when, at some point in the last 24 or so hours, we came across a link to this video. And clicked it. And, for some reason, decided to get all bent out of shape about Britt McHenry or Advanced Towing.

Why do we do this?

Why do we do this so often that, for 2014, Slate managed to find a different outrage that consumed social media each day of the year? Heck, the fact Slate created that compilation itself probably ticked off somebody.

(And, yes, I use “we” here because I’m sure y’all could point to something, from Slate’s list or otherwise, that I wound up blogging about in such a way that my outrage seemed outrageous. Many of the outrageous things that make us so outrageously outraged happen in the political world: for example, Hillary Clinton’s failure to tip at Chipotle the other day. (Really, how many of us tip at a fast-food restaurant?) Politicians are treated by many folks as little more than B-list celebrities who deserve the same type, and depth, of treatment Lindsay Lohan gets when she walks her dog. Yeah, we all do it every now and then.)

It’s one thing to read these stories and/or watch these videos — though there’s probably something to be written about why we do that, too. But it’s another thing altogether to get so revved up by them as to write nasty things of our own in response to them on social media or comment threads.

By all means, watch these things and resolve to teach your children better, to stand up for someone being bullied or — best of all — to learn to hold your own tongue a bit more. In other words, let these incidents be reminders to better the world around you. But when it comes to these ultimately trivial matters in the world well beyond you, don’t be afraid not to give a damn.

Reader Comments 0

51 comments
Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Just avoid the comments section - always. Right???



stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Don Henley mentioned Britt in a song awhile back ("bubble-headed-bleach-blond").

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

Just reminds me that the customer is NOT always right.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian
PinkoNeoConLibertarian

It's all Al Gore's fault. If he hadn't invented the interwebs we wouldn't have all this access to outrageous material.


AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

She just misspoke like "bullets were flying" Hillary.

Mandingo
Mandingo

$late is taking a page out of the Fox New$ , Ru$h Limbaugh , Al $harton , handbook. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Create "news" stories to make money. Then sit back and keep the pot stirring when the vocal dimwits take the bait.

Uhtred
Uhtred

Britt McHenry is good looking and blond. End of story, in the minds of those who keep trying to convince us that fat women are "curvy."

I'm assuming here she's never EVER said anything supporting a Republican.

Stuffy
Stuffy

Funny. I'd bet my bottom dollar that you are an avid watcher of Fox News and they ONLY do outrage. 


As for McHenry, her reaction was over the top personal even with provocation by the employee but I will just leave it at that. I'm not going to bother signing a petition or anything like that. 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

First of all, any video from a phone or a security camera that has been edited by one of the participants to put himself  or herself in a positive light, while putting the other person in a very negative light . . . it should never see the light of day. Obviously, this was a two-sided conversation, and we only head parts of it -- the parts that the towing company wanted us to hear. How can they get away with this? 


Part of it is the times we live in and the incredible ignorance and stupidity of the ever growing, Wired, Connected, and On-Line 24/7 crowd. Their numbed and dumbed minds are just not bright enough to catch things like that. 


But, Kyle is 100% right . Who cares? Or rather Why should we care? We shouldn't. We did not used to care about things like this. A "let them work it out between themselves was about as much interest as it got. 


But these days,  if you are stupid enough to publicly engage in bad behavior, and you are a Wired 24/7 loser and a nobody, don't give up. Just keep pushing it. Be as obnoxious, rude, and despicable as you can possibly be, and do that where you know folks with camera phones are watching, or where the security cameras, with their little red lights aglow  are every where. And some day, you too can be a star. 


However, if you have accomplished something in your life, and you temporarily lose your mind and behave badly in public, in front of camera phones and security cameras. you are going down, and nothing will save you. 


But, but, but, the video will show both sides of what happened, you say. It will show what really happened, and how it all came about. What happened wasn't just my fault. The video will show that. 


If you really do believe that, you should not go out in public for any reason. 

Robtown
Robtown

Driving back from Fla the other day I listened to poor old OxyContin  addled Rushbo carry on for two hours about Hillary and Chipoltegate...  "who gives a damn" was all I could think... I finally had my fill of Rushbo's feigned and gratuitous  outrage and had to change it.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I stopped in to see what catchy headline was all about. Now I'm wondering what big important news event I obviously missed? I've never even heard of this McHenry whatever her name is, so I agree, why is this even a story? Did she park in some superstar's reserved parking spot?


It does appear to be an example of why I tune out ESPN except for the game broadcasts.

Caius
Caius

First I have heard off this.  Never heard of the young lady before this.


I guess everyone has their own idea of what's important in life.

lvg
lvg

Kyle- does your wife know you have been staring at that picture for days?

TicTacs
TicTacs

It's the fake concern with you GOP lovers, just to run someone down ....

AtlantaJournalist
AtlantaJournalist

She's blond and obviously can't read or understand parking signs or she wouldn't have gotten towed. She gets a pass doesn't she?  

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Really, obama's mismanagement of the federal government and hillary's fabricated campaign have taken up too much of my time, I just can't keep up with these fringe issues.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Kyle I am outraged that you dont give a damn!

Hahahha...see where I am going here?

332-206
332-206

Nice opinion piece. 

We're living in a world where click bait equals money.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

I like the dress Britt is wearing in the picture.


I feel the same way about gay sex. Why care about what two consenting adults (not involving me or my spouse) do in their bedrooms?

straker
straker

Kyle - "they can be outraged/counter-outrage about this"


Professional victims of the world, UNITE!!!!!


And, tell that incredibly insensitive college just how hurt your poor feelings are. 

n8diggidy
n8diggidy

Kyle you are a very thoughtful contributor to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I admire how you do more than simply throw red meat to your ideological cohorts. 

UltraElf
UltraElf

@Kyle_Wingfield someone got ticked off about serving mexican food?  Holy PC Batman!  This garbage has got to stop.  How about a law making it a crime to be easily offended? What next, no fried chicken or watermelon if there are black people around? How about they just call it- FOOD! Today's lunch menu-FOOD!

bu2
bu2

@Kyle_Wingfield 


There are a lot of people in this country who need to get a life.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

Video tape? There was actual tape like from 1997?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Rory_Bellows But, considering what I watched was certainly a digital video, whatever the medium of the original recording, I'm going to change that in the post. Feel free to be outraged about it!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Hillary Clinton’s failure to tip at Chipotle the other day.


Did you write about the coffee salute ? I remember that being some sort of big deal as well 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Then I started reading about the blowback against McHenry’s critics, and how we’re so eager to be outraged about things, and how none of us would want our worst moments in public to go viral the way this video did


I would never treat another human being that way. Ever. No matter how they were treating me.


Personally I blame the 24 hr news cycle for a lot of this stuff. They have to fill that time somehow



bu2
bu2

@HeadleyLamar 


So, she's kind of a scummy person.  What does that have to do with her job on the air?  Bill Clinton didn't pay any penalty for being a scummy person and he was the leader of the free world.

straker
straker

Reminds me of the Republican outrage over Benghazi and their strange silence of the thousands of American lives lost in useless Mid-East wars.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @straker Reminds me of the Republican outrage over Benghazi


Maybe not Benghazi itself but Clinton's remark " What difference does it make " was taken totally out of context and created " outrage "

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker There's one in every crowd.

Oh, who am I kidding? You're not the only one.