Outrage Baiting

Earlier today, I pushed a link in twitter to this article in which a woman goes into Trader Joe’s, is offended by the song Under My Thumb on the overheads and tries to complain.

Instantly a friend, and someone I trust, labeled what I had done outrage-baiting. The woman in the article had discussed the music with someone working on the floor, gotten him to uncomfortably acknowledge that the music might bother someone and got him to provide her with the manager’s phone number.

She tried to get the manage of the store on the phone and never did. She did not, as my friend pointed out, go to corporate, who *obviously* runs the canned music contracts. It’s true. She didn’t use all of the handles at her disposal. So, according to my friend, she must not have meant it and I should probably not have boosted her signal.

So…. why did I value the post? Why did I link to it? This person didn’t yell. She wasn’t (near as I could tell) nasty to the clerk she talked to. She just pushed him outside his comfort zone to see why she might be bothered. She pressed him. Ok, he’s powerless. But you know what? He’s going to remember that people care. Maybe next time he does have a choice about a small thing that’s misogynist, he’ll remember the woman who tried to make her point that this is rude and wrong.

Could she have done more about Trader Joes? Sure she could. But in that moment, she did one single very thing right: she calmly stated that something wasn’t right and engaged someone who didn’t want to think about it to move just a little.

Trader Joes…. ok she didn’t change them. And honestly, I don’t care if she failed to make full use of her options and declare jihad on them for their offensive music. It’s true, that corporations can be bullied into better behavior and some of that bullying is going to have to happen. The war to change people’s attitudes doesn’t come out of bullying though. It comes out of patient dialog with thoughtless and uncomfortable strangers. Which is what I got out of that article.

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