If Meghan Markle’s army of digital defenders didn’t exist, we’d have to make them up. Otherwise, the never-ending controversy over Harry and Meghan, the royal-couple-turned-Netflix-show, would not really be controversial — and all the tens of thousands of media articles, such as the one you are now reading, would be not just pointless but defunct. There would be nobody to argue with and nothing to argue about — apart from Trump, obviously.

Markle’s digital army does exist, however. They are, like radical trans activists, a minority who manage to make a lot of noise — chiefly...

If Meghan Markle’s army of digital defenders didn’t exist, we’d have to make them up. Otherwise, the never-ending controversy over Harry and Meghan, the royal-couple-turned-Netflix-show, would not really be controversial — and all the tens of thousands of media articles, such as the one you are now reading, would be not just pointless but defunct. There would be nobody to argue with and nothing to argue about — apart from Trump, obviously.

Markle’s digital army does exist, however. They are, like radical trans activists, a minority who manage to make a lot of noise — chiefly because most of us derive considerable satisfaction from the shared feelings of irritation that they generate.

Occasionally, the Gods of the Media Headings, the great outrage algorithms above the sky, will grant the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s supporters a win to keep us all interested. That’s why Jeremy Clarkson had to be publicly shamed for his silly paragraph (a bad joke, at worst) in the Sun in which he wished that Markle would be “paraded naked through the streets.”

Clarkson’s daughter took to Instagram to denounce him (the most nepo-babyish act any child can do), some 20,000 people complained to IPSO, and the Sun apologized. Over Christmas tables across the country every boringly right-wing uncle or aunt had to be informed by his or her tiresomely woke nephews or nieces that Clarkson had gone too far. This is how “the discourse,” as online people call it, works.

After successfully parading Clarkson naked and ashamed through their feeds, the Sussexites are fired up and gunning for more. They are duly making another fuss about an article in Politico entitled “2022 Is The Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists.” The author of the piece, Joanna Weiss, made the perfectly reasonable argument — expressed more in hope than anything — that “our patience is fading” when it comes to those who use “attention as currency and ego as fuel.”

She included what happened this year to Harry and Meghan, along with Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Kanye West, as well as the tech rip-off artists Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried.

Weiss was hardly venomous about the Sussexes ­— “they seem tiresome, but genuinely well-intentioned,” she wrote. But the fact that she had cast them alongside such dangerous right-wing egomaniacs as Trump, Musk and West triggered an angry weather event on social media. A barrage of media-savvy figures demanded Politico issue an apology for having published the offending article.

Nick Laparra, the founder of something called Let’s Give a Damn — me neither — told the publication to “do better.”

The entrepreneur Christopher Bouzy, a contributor to the Harry & Meghan documentary, said that the article attacked Meghan for having “defended herself while black.”

“These Meghan haters all have something in common,” added Bouzy, a man who doesn’t appear lacking in self-regard. “Meghan got the prince, and you must learn to deal with it.”

Of course, that reaction neatly disproves Weiss’s thesis — though not in the way the Meghan fans think. A lot of people want 2022 to be the year that narcissism lost its influence. We’ve wished the same every year since the social internet began. Pathological narcissists aside, we all want to be less interested in attention as currency and ego as fuel. But we can’t help ourselves and that’s the point. What overbearing egos really fuel is anger and sadly that, as Meghan and Harry prove, is an ever-abundant power source. We all feel it, one way or another.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.