Calm Down Everyone! No Need For All This Outrage.
There’s a new craze that is sweeping the nation. A trend that has become more viral than Ebola, more popular than One Direction and has infiltrated our social media and culture to such an extent that to not follow suit deems you a social pariah. What is it?
It’s the surge of the Perpetually Offended. The sanctimonious army of the How Very Dare Yous and their indignant band of How Could Yous. Everywhere you turn there is a creased brow of outraged horror and a pursing of lips.
Yet again a writer has had the audacity to air their views on a public platform that, horror of horrors, does not reflect the general consensus. A political cartoonist has got too close to the bone. An artist has been too crude. A novelist too explicit. A documentary maker too outrageous. Someone on Twitter who you don’t know, has shared their opinion on a subject that until three seconds ago you had no interest in, and has ignited a three day marathon of vitriolic hate from a million other strangers because…well…they simply didn’t agree.
Before the rise of social media and our new culture of over sharing, people’s views and habits were just that. Theirs. They may well have shared them with their friends and family, who more than likely had the same ideals, or they kept their opinion to themselves. And if you did disagree with them you may have said ‘wait a minute old chap, not sure I agree with you there’…and your friend would laugh and say, ‘well the world is made up of all sorts, eh’ and you would finish your beer and talk about stuff you did agree on. But not now. Now, you have to be offended.
But what does it mean to be offended. Exactly what is everyone’s problem?
Children are told every day that sticks and stones may break their bones but words will never hurt them. Is that true? Do words hurt? Or is it up to the individual to get a fucking grip and a back bone?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I have never been offended. It’s true. I haven’t.
Is it because I have more confidence than others? A higher intellect? A lesser one? Do I have no fear or care less than others? I don’t know and I don’t understand.
Of course I get upset when someone I love says horrible things about me, that’s because I know them and their opinions matter – plus it’s personal. But an article I have read? Or an image I have seen?
The Google definition of ‘offended’ is – “resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.”
So how the hell can an article in a newspaper insult you personally? It’s a different viewpoint to yours, it’s not a full page ad screaming ‘Oi Mr Smith, you are a prick’.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s talk about the F word. Fat. If I were overweight (and I probably don’t need to use too much imagination there) and I read an article saying all fat people were lazy, I would have two options. To disagree, because I and other fat people I knew weren’t, in which case the article is bollocks and not worthy of my time. Or I would look down at my squidgy gut protruding from my sweaty jogging bottoms that had never been jogged in, stuff another handful of Cheetos in my mouth and agree with the article. In which case, what have I got to be upset about if they are right? The same goes for almost everything else in this world.
I don’t understand the waste of time and energy people use by sharing online how utterly outraged they are by a blog or article. Why? If you think the writer is wrong, then don’t read it (and for fuck’s sake don’t go giving them more exposure by sharing it, which is what they do it for anyway). If you don’t like what you see on the TV, switch the channel over. If you don’t like a comedian, politician, newspaper…just choose another. There are loads out there. You want to get offended by something? Get offended by an injustice you can change…not an article about breastfeeding or Union Jack flags.
Imagine a world where the intelligent, creative and expressive were not allowed to communicate outside of the norm. We wouldn’t have Shakespeare or Wilde; we wouldn’t have Dahlí or Pollock; we wouldn’t have Mr Grey or Lady Chatterley; and we wouldn’t have rap, blues or country music bubbling over with lyrical poetry of hate, passion, regret and unspoken love. The world needs to be challenged, and the world needs to listen, respect a difference of opinion and keep its shit together. People need to stop using their valuable time being keyboard warriors and trolling their shriveled little hearts out. It adds nothing of value to the world or your own well-being.
So come on everyone, come and rattle my cage. Surprise me. Make me think. Make me want to have a heated discussion and throw ideas around. Change my mind about something – it’s allowed. Let me believe the world is a fabulous mix of beliefs, faiths, passions, views, opinions and a vast array of paths that we can follow.
Just don’t give me a beige fence to sit on, or I will stop using words and instead turn your fence into sticks to beat you with. And if you are offended by this article and I have insulted your right to be hurt by it, then guess what? I don’t care. So off you trot, my little angry trolls. Fuck off!