Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I take offense to the fact that you're offended

Why do we do it?  Why do we personalize every little thing others say and find ways to take offense in each little word they utter?  Are we that bored in our lives that we have nothing better to do than pick apart the comments of others?  Perhaps it's unavoidable... perhaps we have to be offended all the time, about everything... but perhaps we don't?  I'm back on my soapbox today and now, I'm offended.  I'm offended that everyone else is offended.

Our current society celebrates the offensive.  Look at TV ratings and movie ticket sales... Americans (I'm from America, so I'm sticking to what I know) are obsessed with the offensive.  We celebrate the Simpsons, Family Guy, Jerry Springer, etc.  The more offensive they get, the more of us watch.   We create falsely dramatic reality tv shows that cause us to ignore our own reality to run home and watch to see what the most obnoxios individuals will do this week.  We celebrate movies as hilarious that can't offer any form of intelligence, only explicit language and body, sex and fart humor.  I hear a lot of people say show like the Simpsons are extremely brilliant... bullshit... it's writers simply have to look at what will offend the most people on any given day to get them the good ratings.

I think I should clarify here that I am not including myself in this "us/we"... I actually choose NOT to watch these types of shows.  It's not that I find them shocking or horrifying, it's that I simply don't find them funny or entertaining at all.  I also see these types of shows as being a huge problem for our society in general.

Despite the fact, that we should be completely desensitized to this offensiveness with it being thrust in our face at every turn, we seem to be becoming more sensitive to it instead.  It's no wonder the world is in constant turmoil and we are currently going through a global crisis.  Religious groups find reasons to be offended by eachother... usually focusing on a moment in history so long ago that we can't even name a single one of our ancestors that was involved.  Races find reasons to offend eachother... again based on history, although sometimes more recent, and acts that the person you're talking to likely had nothing to do with.  Countries find eachother intollerable and offensive.... it is no longer ok for a country we can't stand to exist in their own space... with the globe being so accessible, we can now offend eachother from halfway around the world in an instant.  Political groups no longer simply disagree, they offend.  Men offend women and vice versa.  Companies whose practices and policies we don't agree with are now offensive to us on an individual level. 

Herein lies the problem. It's not usually personal, and yet people have become so quick to internalize these things and take on a personal crusade to abolish that which they now find offensive.  In a world with so much trouble, do we really need to use every potential catalyst to stir up more?  I prefer not to.  It's actually pretty difficult to offend me.  I try to avoid interjecting things in my life that will cause to me to be offended.  I also try not to personalize things unless they are meant to be personal.  If someone says something offensive to me, I will call them on it.  If they make a comment I don't agree with, I may debate it (sometimes at length), but I will not be offended unless the debate turns personal.  Some things just aren't meant to be personal.  In this time of global interconnectedness, it's usally easy to use cyclical thinking to say that something is personal that really isn't. 

I'm going to give a recent example that many people will probably try to argue with me about.... AIG and their corporate salaries and bonuses.  Many people would say that AIG giving out huge corporate salaries while accepting federal aid is offensive.  They would argue that it is their tax dollars and is therefore personal to them.  They will read into this occurance until they find a reason to be offended.  And why shouldn't they?  The news media told us repeatedly that we should be offended.  Politicians who were against the bail out remind us constantly how offensive these salaries and bonuses are to each of us.  So how can I use this as an example and say I don't find it offensive... easy... I'm not offended.  Yes, I pay those same taxes, but the amount of my tax dollars that went to AIG would probably not amount to 1 dinner for my family.  Plus, AIG is a corporation... one I wouldn't mind working for if they're paying so well.  As for the government officials who made the choice... I'm a registered voter and US citizen and I have the power to vote them out of office, run for office myself, and even to campaign to get someone I believe in elected.  The AIG mess is a definate point of debate.  In my opinion it was not a wise move to loan them money without more restrictions.  It's just not offensive.

If we want this world to be a better place, we need to stop focusing so much on the offensive and focus on not offending.  Let's move towards being part of the solution instead of adding more ammunition to the problem.  Next time something offends you, think about how it personally effects you and if it doesn't, find a way to turn that false feeling of offense into positive action.  Instead of being the one bitching about the problem, be one of the few working to come up with a solution.  Listen to other points of view, debate the issue, and discuss the merits of your agruements.  We have far more potential if we work to understand others instead of rushing to be offended by them.

As I close out this little moment of venting on my soapbox, I would like to say that the title and beginning of this blog are wrong.  I am not actually offended by people who are offended.  It just occured to me that people who are always offended would look for more reasons to be offended and be more likely to read my point of view on the matter.  You control how you respond to any given situation ofr stimulous.  Do you really want to pend your entire life feeling offended by people, places and things?  You get back the type of energy you put into the world... make it happy and positive if you want a happy and positive life.

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