Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm Offended....No Offence

I'm a sensitive person.  There, I've admitted it.

But I've come to realise in recent years (along the journey of being a blogger and a Facebooker), that it is ridiculous to take some things personally.  There is a world of difference between a personal insult which you're 100% sure was directed at you, and someone voicing their opinion on a topic online or in a group situation.  I've discovered that I can waste a lot of time being angry about things that were never directed at me in the first place.  To be honest, I'm not sure why I've felt offended at someone merely having a different opinion to myself, or randomly blogging about something that I happened to be going through at that exact moment.

So why do people do it when they know it's not about them?
  • A guilty conscience?  Someone writes or speaks about something that they know deep down they shouldn't be doing.  They know it's a general statement, but they still lash out, using phrases such as, "You shouldn't judge.  You're guilty of..."
  • They're already in a bad mood before they read or hear what's been said?  Maybe some people log into Facebook to take out their daily frustrations on their fellow users.  Honestly the reactions I've read to some statuses (including my own) has been mind-boggling.  I felt like saying, "Dude, I don't know what you're talking about and why you're so angry, but it's got NOTHING to do with that person's status." 
I'll use a few real life examples.

A few months back I read the post File Under: Confessions by Daja from In Other Words.  She was recalling an incident on Facebook where she wrote something along the lines of, I just love homeschooling, on her status only to incur the wrath of public teacher acquaintances.  It's not like she was criticising public schools by declaring that she loves homeschooling.  Being for something doesn't necessarily mean you're against something else.  Here is part of the response I wrote to Daja:

I have some Facebook friends who have very strong opinions on all sorts of things from child-rearing to politics.  They often put their opinions on their status not very eloquently, but I don't take offence because (a) it's not a personal's not like they're writing 'Sarah is an idiot', and (b) Facebook is their place to air their opinions and I know they don't intend to hurt's just what they believe.

I've since realised that some people actually WANT and CHOOSE to be offended so they have an excuse to have a go at you.  Others are already in a bad mood about something else when they log in and are just itching for a fight (sometimes they don't REALLY disagree, they just want an argument or to make you look silly).

What do you think?  Am I right?  Is being offended sometimes a choice?

I really am a bit confused and alarmed at where society is heading with the whole being offended thing.  We should definitely watch our words and Take 5 before we speak to others.  But I think there is a world of difference between personal conversations and expressing your point of view on Facebook or a blog.  I would hate to think that everyone will soon become too scared to say or write anything for fear of backlash.  I thought we were a country that valued freedom of speech?  Sure, you may think someone is a knob because of what they say online, but at least online you have the right not to listen.  That's the great thing about blogs and Facebook - you can tune out if you want to.  This is especially true for blogs where generally the blogger has little clue exactly who is reading, so how can you take a post on the evils of jaywalking personally?  If what they write offends you so much, why do you keep reading?  On Facebook, it is a little more personal because once you set your profile to private, you know exactly who your audience is.  But still, like I said to Daja, I know people with very strong opinions (like I do on some things) and they should be able to have a platform to say what they want, just as I would like to.  If I find myself getting annoyed at something someone has written, I've got to tell myself to calm down and ask why this has stirred me up when it's more than likely I didn't even enter their thoughts when they wrote that status or post.  If they wrote something mean and tagged me in their status, fair enough.  There is a page on Facebook called No My Status Wasn't Aimed At You - But If The Shoe Fits Feel Free To Wear It.

I would hate to think that we need to put disclaimers on all of our posts just in case someone somewhere may be offended.  Bek from Longfur made a good point in the disclaimer she put on her post Give it a Rest.  She wrote There is no one individual in particular that this is aimed at.  If there are any similarities to stories, that is purely coincidental.  However, if you identify yourself in one of the comments/stories...maybe it's something to think about?

Yes, why do people identify themselves in posts that have nothing to do with them?  And why do the ones that some posts have really been aimed at think you don't mean them?
While we are on the topic of offence, can someone please explain this to me?

Why do people say something that is UNMISTAKABLY rude and then hastily add, "No offence," after it?

Ok so misunderstandings happen where no offence was intended but the comment was taken as offensive.  But how can someone possibly mean 'no offence' by saying, "You're offence."?

The Urban Dictionary puts the definition of 'no offence' very bluntly:

An excuse to insult someone.  Anyone who uses this word is a tool.

I don't get it.  Please explain...


bettyl said...

People are generally more self-absorbed these days, I think. They weren't taught to consider others' opinions and feelings or to decide if it's all that important that they voice their opinion.

That's why I moderate my comments on my blog. There are too many people in the world that won't allow me my opinion--so I don't give them voice on my blog.

Things sure have changed since I was a kid!

Sarah said...

That's why I moderate my comments on my blog. There are too many people in the world that won't allow me my opinion--so I don't give them voice on my blog.

Same for me, Betty. Some people make me feel like I'm not allowed to have an opinion in real life so that's why I have my blog.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Didn't see this until just now. I'm so behind on all my important blog reading. :-)

Thanks for the link.

I think some of the reason people feel free to be rude is that this digital age has really caused us to be desensitized. We feel like we are communicating to other computers. We forget that there is a real face and real feelings on the other end. You know?

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts!! I always enjoy your blog when I have the chance to catch up on it! :-)