Getting “Offended Over Nothing”

Yet again, I was sucked into the social media black hole, scrolling through a feed of memes when I came across this post from one of my “friends”. I met this person once at a party and genuinely loved talking to them, but this post brings up a lot of questions I wanted to direct to them. I considered typing a response in the comments but figured it wasn’t worth the hassle. This person has far more Facebook friends than I do. I had no doubt a sea of people sharing his views would rush to defend him if I tried to start any form of debate, probably responding before they even fully read my post. However, I still have this blog.

Just like the infamous “triggered’ accusation, complaints about people being “offended by everything” or being “too coddled”, “sensitive” etc. all assume that the people making the accusation don’t have any issues they get worked up about.  So let’s look at the post. Basically, the idea is that people used to have real issues and they still didn’t complain as much as we did e.g lack of child labour laws, wars, friends dying. Today we still have some of these issues, e.g Syrian Civil War, poverty. So the idea is that we need to get over minor issues like “microaggressions”, stereotypes, minority representation in film etc.

Okay, that sounds fair enough. One thing though. Generally, these posts have a target in mind: the “libtards”, “social justice warriors” and so on. Posts like this, in my experience, typically come from the same people who complain about the influence of liberals, in everything from politics to TV. So the people using these posts to make a point also have their own set of issues that you could consider minor ones, relative to wars, famine etc. The guy who thinks society is crumbling because a transsexual could possibly use the same public bathroom and see his penis (for a few minutes at a time) has as much right to hear that he’s “triggered” or “offended by everything”- at least if we follow the logic of this Facebook post. This Facebook post is one of hundreds you can find online that uses the same logic, the logic that collapses on itself because it is built on a double standard that ignores context.

This reminds me of the post I did on the old advertisements, where a series of sexist and racist ads from the mid 1900s are now being embraced by viewers as an ideal that we should strive toward e.g “I wish people could take jokes like they used to.” The reaction that I had was “wow it’s good to see society has progressed since this time”, and there was the odd person who shared my view. For the most part though, people just demonstrated a wish to go back to the social and political mores of an older time.

People who use these type of Facebook posts to make a point also forget that people might just pay attention to more issues as society develops. Yes, we can still be concerned about wars and worldwide catastrophes. Society has also evolved to care about minorities more than it used to, which some people view as an unfortunate thing. Yes, we should all take moments to appreciate the good things in life, like a roof over our head. That doesn’t mean that as long as we have food and shelter, we’re not allowed to care about any other issues. Some people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, they’re more worried about seeing gay people in their favourite movies or TV show. You can also tell them not to be “offended by everything”. Being “offended by everything” is not just a liberal issue, it is a human issue. Don’t try to hide behind the principle of “I don’t get offended” to silence the discussion of issues you don’t care about. Discuss the issue itself. This argumentative technique reminds me of the people who say they don’t like it when actors “discuss politics”. As I’ve discussed before, this is usually just their way of saying “I don’t like it when actors express political views I don’t agree with.” If the same actors they criticize were to preach views they believe in, I doubt people would say actors should stay out of politics. Hypocrisy doesn’t help the debate or create a better society. Hypocrisy is the true cause of our divided society.