Why So Offended?
I never post anything on social media. I read it. But I never respond. Until yesterday.
After reading a guys rant on why we should all take off our facemask, I decided to post a response. I replied, “Literally, no one cares! If you don’t want to wear one, don’t wear one. If you want to wear one, wear one.” Responses were shocking. Ironically, I didn’t take a position on masks but affirmed the power of human choice. But that is not what people really want, apparently.
Years ago there was a lady in my neighborhood that had this little yappy Yorkie dog. The thing went ape-crap every time it saw me. One day I said, “You silly little bitch!” I didn’t scream it. I wasn’t angry. I was just trying to be funny. My neighbor was HIGHLY offended. Why are people offended?
Lake of Knowledge
When I was a child, my mother had a dear friend named Joyce. Joyce was a dog breeder with a huge farm. I LOVED visiting their house because there was so much to explore. When I was around 7 or 8 years old, we visited the farm and Joyce wanted to show my mother something, and I would really like it too. So we went down to one of the kennels to see some newborn puppies. Along the way, Joyce used the word “bitch.” I had been raised in a minister’s home, and if there was ONE thing I was pretty clear on, it was that the word “BITCH” was a BAAAAAAAAD WORD! My young mind was OFFENDED! So offended, I could not look Joyce in the eye when we departed. I asked my mother about the word, and she explained it to me. For those who are completely clueless as I was, a male canine is called a dog. A female canine is called a bitch. Just ask SIRI. It is not a profane word. It becomes profanity when it is used in a manner that is inconsistent with its appropriate usage. I COULD NOT WAIT to share this new-found knowledge with all my classmates at school, but that is a different story.
The point is, often, we are offended because we simply have limited knowledge or understanding of things or situations. Maybe we would be better reserving judgment until all the facts are revealed.
We all judge everyone all the time. It is a part of human nature and takes some significant effort to not judge. My neighbor is a sweet lady. I have never considered her a “bitch.” Offenses often occur when we make broad assumptions about what others intended or meant by their statement or actions. Maybe my neighbor assumed I was talking to her.
Recently, a superior at work responded to a text statement with “K.” I was furious! How dare he disrespect me like that? I was so irritated about it that I called his assistant to discuss why he was upset at me. After a few minutes, I realized that my “Boomer” boss had NO CLUE what “k” meant in a text. My false assumptions took three years off my life. Maybe, instead of assuming what others meant or intended, I can take the response at face value of meaning only what it says. Instead of assuming there are ALWAYS underlying issues, maybe I can just assume everything is good.
In the case of my offense at Joyce’s use of the word bitch, I was offended because I had brittle ears. I grew up in a social context that taught the word was bad. Therefore, I was conditioned to reject any use of the word, regardless of correctness, intention, or context. As a result, the only person affected was me! People are offended because they want to be offended. They are brittle-eared. We all judge others by standards that are far more rigid than what we judge ourselves. This is because we know our own intentions: “I know I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone,” or “My heart was in the right place,” or “I didn’t mean for it to go that far.” As a result, we judge ourselves based upon the perceived quality of our character, while judging others on the content of their actions alone. I have a hard enough time walking a mile in my own shoes. I don’ have the time or energy to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Maybe their story is worse than mine? Give people a break!
This is probably the most common reason social media blows up. Cancel culture is obsessed with their own viewpoint so that no other viewpoint can exist in their universe. That is egocentrism at its finest. It is also what drives imperialism, racism, and almost every other form of suppression on this planet. Harry S. Truman once said that once people are “committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures until it becomes a source of terror.” Cancel culture is quickly becoming a form of digital terrorism that has the ability to hurt the advancement of all of our global citizenship.
Let’s all stiffen up a bit. We will go further supporting each other than we will by dividing people.