Stop Being Offended
Today’s rant is brought to you by the offended. My view on the childish phenomena is that there is an epidemic of thin skin. Humans are emotional creatures, susceptible to irrational states of mind. Our job as adults is to recognize these states, and channel them into something useful.
People have the right to act inappropriately, behave like children, and make mistakes. We’re a messy bunch, and it adds to the fun. My issue with a vast number who often and or enthusiastically take on the role of being offended, is that they descend too far into the emotional hysteria of the victim character they are playing.
“How dare you?” Over actors. The self appointed victim becomes acting bully, attacking character over ideas, often in the form of thinly veiled accusations. This casts a sour veil over the situation without adding value. Keep a cool head instead. Battle it out in the arena of ideas.
Debate is the act of discourse, a noble engagement where two parties sharpen minds and social skills by working their way through a sort of invisible board game. If the hard line is simply to dominate, the contest loses its luster. Hold your frame, and do not attach your sense of self to the position that you are defending.
Debate does not require that type of vulnerability, so long as the debater maintains his humility. Retain a playful heir, and it will surely be a fruitful endeavor. If no agreement can be reached, rejoice in having taken into account alternative viewpoints, shake hands, and be on your merry way.
Problems arise quickly when this is ignored. Instead of a collaboration of information and perspective, petty emotions hijack the interaction, dragging it toward chaos. To the world of screaming, insults, and bias. To the world of the offended.
“How dare you?” When identity is emotionally tied to an idea, any perceived slight against the idea becomes an attack on the individual.
An easily offended society is a sign of weakness. Of spoiledness. Or perhaps simply, a correctable flaw in the collective thought process. America is built on the principle of freedom. Of the sovereign individual. On free speech. We have the right to be offended, but do we have reason?
The alarming trend seems to be toward collectivism. The idea that speech equals violence, and that citizens should band together to stamp out opposition. It is an abandonment of personal responsibility. Mindless chants at protests, and screaming in the face of opposing sides where discussion is fully available. This type of herd mentality leads to dehumanization, and violence.
We are all on the same team here, like it or not. As humans, and as Americans. The competition that makes us great shouldn’t be personal. Instead of competing against each other, we should compete with each other. As long as we still believe in the power of the individual, and subscribe to the idea of democracy. Let people chase nirvana however they please, and trust that collectively, we will hold things down. For some, a return to civility is required. A refocus on debate club rules.
Give both sides a chance to speak, uninterrupted. If you disagree with a point, make a mental note of it. Accept the person as they are, dropping the expectation of being the prophet who changes their mind. Alterations of belief take time, and your seeds may take root without sprouting immediately. Learn to enjoy the act of debate, and the company of your opponent more than any outcome or reformation. It’s a long and bitter game, while life is short and sweet.
In severe cases involving an incorrigible asshole who provokes for the pure pleasure of inciting offense, let him be. Wouldn’t you ignore a child in a similar scenario? Do yourself a favor, and don’t waste your time or lose your cool. Don’t be offended.