I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading about that stupid red Starbucks cup. So, because the world is rich with irony, here I am writing about it so other people have to read another take on the situation.
If you missed the drama that went from chatter on Friday and Saturday to a deafening roar from Sunday afternoon into Monday, Starbucks coffee released their annual red Christmas cup, except this year – gasp – it doesn’t say “Merry Christmas” on it, which of course means they are making an anti-Christian statement… or something. Some people got outraged by it. One popular Facebook commentator recommended that people go into Starbucks, order a coffee, and say that their name is “Merry Christmas” so they would have to write it on the cup. Yeah, it’s that ridiculous.
Naturally, other Christians rushed to point out the absurdity of this outrage and protests. The problem is, it got to the point where the amount of people outraged at the outrage was at least ten to one, proportionally speaking. You can find somebody who’s mad at Starbucks if you look for them, but you don’t even have to look to find people who are correcting that small minority. That’s how it happens. A small few people stir up an issue, somebody posts something against them, other people see that person’s post and agree, so they post, and the cycle continues on to the point where the original offenders are nowhere to be found, but a horde of angry people protesting them are everywhere. Where’s the debate? Is it really an issue?
A similar thing happened on Twitter with the #boycottstarwars hashtag after the final Star Wars trailer came out, where some people had supposedly pledged to boycott the movie because it had a black lead character. But, after scrolling through dozens of tweets, those supposed racists were nowhere to be found. Another case was the multi-racial Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad, that supposedly had people up in arms, taking up the cause of nationalism… but that was only an issue because tens of thousands wanted to make sure they voiced their disapproval of the two or three offenders.
The internet outrage cycle is out of control. People want to be seen “taking a stand,” even when that doesn’t mean anything in real life. Those who have criticized the Starbucks protesters have made repeatedly made their case by pointing out that doing good deeds is far more important to Christianity than a coffee cup, saying things like “Why are we outraged about a coffee cup when there are people in need?” That completely misses the irony in that it’s just one step further to say, “Why are you outraged about people who are outraged about a coffee cup when there are people in need?”
Of course, you could look at this article and add another level – “Why are you outraged about people who are outraged about people who are outraged about a coffee cup when there are people in need?” That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out – how can this be addressed without looking hypocritical? For one thing, there is actually something to be discussed here. The “debate” that was created over the weekend is so one-sided by the numbers that it’s become completely unnecessary. There comes a time where it’s just grasping at straws, trying to make sure we’re on the right side of a debate that isn’t really happening. Beyond that point, I don’t know. I just know that it’s something we need to talk about.
The whole point here is that none of this counts for anything in real life. Internet activism (“Slacktivism”) is pointless on any and every level. There is no moral high ground in posting on Facebook that Starbucks is anti-Christmas, just as there’s no moral high ground in correcting those people, and there’s no moral high ground or brownie points for writing articles like this. No matter where we find ourselves on the contrived outrage spectrum, we have to stop allowing ourselves to be carried away by the slightest, most inconsequential issues and live our lives as Christians by our deeds, not by our posts and tweets.
By Jack Wilkie