It's an Outrage! See? Look How Outraged I Am!

On social media, moral opprobrium is a kind of currency: Shaming one person earns you points with others. But there's always a cost.

Remember when that dentist shot a lion?

Photographer: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Science is starting to shed some light on the curiously continuous cycle of moral outrages. One week, it’s students protesting the use of Woodrow Wilson’s name. The next, it’s Icelanders hurling yogurt at the parliament building. This week, the social media world is aflame over the way Southwest Airlines employees forced a young man to leave a plane after he spoke on a cell phone in Arabic. And just last summer (but many outrages ago), comedian Jimmy Kimmel cried outraged tears over the shooting of a lion named Cecil.

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