Years ago I heard this quote that is frequently shared around the LDS community because it is attributed to the straight-talking Brigham Young.
That quote was also attributed to Confucius, so I don’t really know who should get the credit.
The point is, I heard it years ago and it always stuck with me.
I started writing this post several months ago when I found myself on the outskirts of an awkward situation. Someone was very offended by something that, to most of us, was not offensive. Offense was CERTAINLY not the intent of the person who started it all. But, regardless of intent, offense was taken and things weren’t pleasant for anyone involved.
But the timing felt all wrong and I put the post aside.
And then, a couple of months passed and I found myself at the center of a similar situation.
One that is not actually the point of this post, simply the catalyst for finally getting me to finish writing it.
Except that I put the post aside again. The timing still wasn’t right.
And then last week I wrote about Finding Dory and what was supposed to be an observation and rant about what movies are teaching children devolved in the comments section to something really weird.
Someone found my post and commented on it. Anonymously. Because all Important Blog Comments must be anonymous.
Someone (possibly the same person, I don’t know) shared the post on a discussion board.
(Thank you for the free publicity, guys! My page views are looking awesome!)
This, of course, resulted in a short discussion of me and my post.
I actually laughed out loud at the ridiculous statements they made. Because they are ridiculous. And accidentally hilarious. Or maybe not accidentally, but hilarious in a way other than the one they intended.
(It is important to point out the irony that these boys and girls were offended and tried to bully me for talking about bullying.)
(Of course, I’m sure they don’t understand how irony works. Much like they don’t understand grammar or proper usage of the Caps Lock button.)
So, yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about offense, and how easily offended people seem to be these days.
(And I maintain that I am NOT one of those people. If I were, I would have spent the last week crying over those comments and probably taking the post down instead of mocking them back and having a good chuckle.)
We see it all the time. On Facebook, on blogs, among the people in my social circles. Don’t even get me started on Twitter. It seems like someone is constantly offended about something.
And I find it baffling.
I mean, okay, yes, I also recognize that people are much more likely to say/post/share offensive things from the safety and anonymity of the internet. Because they can.
But, honestly. Why do we have to be offended over every little thing? Why does it feel like some people WANT to be offended?
I do not understand. I cannot understand.
One of the problems with being constantly offended over the inconsequential is that it makes it harder to identify when something truly egregious is taking place and when people SHOULD be upset. The message gets diluted.
It’s sort of like the boy who cried wolf.
We need to stop being offended over things. Whether it is intended to be offensive or not.
Because if it’s NOT intended to be offensive, then instead of being mad, maybe try to figure out where the problem is. Are you being overly sensitive? Or is the other person just coming from a place where they are uninformed about why they said something offensive? If it’s the latter, perhaps this is an opportunity to talk with them about it. Getting mad and unfriending them over it is kind of a silly overreaction. And, honestly, what does it accomplish?
If something IS intended to be offensive, that’s a different matter. Some people are just assholes and always will be. And what happens when you let them offend you? You are upset and they are happy. They are HAPPY that you’re pissed.
Do you want them to be happy?
No, of course you don’t.
So take the wind out of their sails. Refuse to react to it. Don’t be sucked into the drama. It isn’t worth it.
Now, I know this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes people say or do things that DO call for a reaction. It’s necessary. Such as the case with Finding Dory. Or basically every time Donald Trump opens his mouth.
But it’s all in HOW you approach it.
Just yelling and crying and stomping your feet isn’t going to get anyone to listen to you.
Calling someone names and making fun of them and acting like your position is the only right one isn’t going to convert most people to your cause. Unless you’re Donald Trump, apparently…
The best way is to calmly, rationally express your opinion. What the other side chooses to do with that is up to them. And how you handle their reaction is up to you.
But staying calm is ALWAYS the best solution.
When you yell and get mad your message gets lost. All anyone hears is your emotion. Not your words.
So next time you come across something that offends you, take a step back. Think about it. Make a plan of how you will respond. Don’t just react. Because, more often than not, your initial reaction will be the exact wrong course of action. Making a plan ensures that you will have the biggest impact.
And isn’t that ultimately what you want?