I “offend” people, a lot.
I don’t give a shit, a lot.
I’m not a cold-hearted person. I’m actually quite sensitive. But when people write “This offends me” or “I’m offended by this,” the only thing I think to myself is “It is impossible for me to convey how little I care.” Not because I’m evil (though that may be true), but rather because I just don’t understand what the hell that’s got to do with me.
Recently I wrote a post referring to “childless” people. I used that word because I wanted to refer to people without children, and “people without children” is three words whereas “childless” is one. And since I’m into the whole brevity thing, I decided on the latter. If you hop over and read the comment thread, you’ll see numerous comments clarifying that “childless” is an offensive, politically incorrect term. The word is “childFREE.” ChildLESS implies a void.
See now this is precisely the moment where they lose me. Yes, of course “childless” implies a void. In English, when you add the word “less” to the end of another word, it means “without” that thing. Hence, without children, which is precisely what I’m trying to say. Forgive me, but I’m not going to INVENT some new word because you find the actual word unpalatable.
I know there are people suffering from infertility, and this word must pierce them, and that makes me feel sad, but can you imagine if we kept changing up English every seven minutes to accommodate every individual experience ever known to humankind? I didn’t set out to hurt people’s feelings. I was just writing. And I’m not particularly invested in the word “childless.” But the fact is I’m not responsible for crafting ideas that are pleasant and palatable and gentle on every version of human on earth today.
I will always hurt people, somehow, and they will always hurt me.
The reason some words are replaced by others (“humankind” for “mankind” or “artificial” or “human-made” for “manmade”) is that they are inaccurate. They erase women. Women are also humans. And unless you know without a doubt that not a single female played a part in the creation of whatever’s in question, then you are misspeaking to call it “manmade.”
But I wasn’t misspeaking. I was merely pissing people off and hurting feelings.
And really, in the end, as harsh as this sounds, who gives a fuck about feelings?
You, your spouse, the people close to you. Feelings are super useful in indicating to us that something’s wrong, that we need to take some action. Internal unrest is a great indicator that our feet or mouths need to do something: Leave, tell the truth, clean up a past action or wrong. Talk about something. Call somebody. Click off this bitch’s webpage.
But people (whiners) of the fucking internet, your feelings are not sufficient evidence that the world should do something different.
In other words, it’s not our problem you’re “offended.”
Let’s think about this for a moment. You’re offended. You’ve taken offense. You announce that on a website or comment thread (or to a live human being) as if it means something, as if it’s some grand proclamation with relevance and importance, but all you’re really saying is this: “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and we’ve had two totally different lives, but your existence is not validating mine, and that makes me sad, and therefore you should stop doing what you’re doing.”
Do you see how insane that is?
“I’ve had a unique experience of life and my feelings reflect that experience but you don’t, and so YOU’RE WRONG! Stop it! I’m hurt! Wahhhh!”
The problem is not that you’re “offended.” The problem is that you think the rest of the world should care, do something about it, change its behavior to accommodate your inner self.
I hate to break it to you, but your feelings are your own. They’re not mine. They’re not his or hers or theirs or the douchebag writing that article. They are YOURS. Own it, dude. Deal with it.
Every time I hear somebody say “I used to be an alcoholic but now I drink moderately” I want to bash them in the face and my heart sinks into my toes, because that ignorance furthers the plight of actual alcoholics, who of course can’t safely touch alcohol in any form. And there are people dying in the fucking gutters from this disease, and it sure isn’t helping to have people calling themselves alcoholics announcing that they’ve seen the light and “learned to drink reasonably.”
But I know that because I am an alcoholic, because I was dying in a gutter (well actually it was a beige Ford Taurus but who’s counting?). My feelings are hurt because I know – no, I’ve experienced something –this person has not. But that’s not their problem, is it? It’s mine. If I really want to be helpful, perhaps I attempt to explain my perspective, if the opportunity arises. But simply proclaiming “You offend me!” is about the most useless, narcissistic, entitled and meaningless statement ever.
Am I so important that the world should bow and shift and change because my inner self is wounded?
Poor inner child.
Grow the fuck up.
It must be frustrating to troll around the internet endlessly announcing the offense you take to this and that only to find a bunch of unfeeling bags looking at you like “Yes, and?”
But check it out: People find gay people “offensive.” People once found integrated schools “offensive.” People find people of other races, ethnicities and sexes “offensive.” People find breastfeeding in public “offensive.” People find uncovered heads “offensive.” I could go on all day.
Do you see my point here?
The fact that you find something “offensive” cannot possibly mean anything to anybody other than YOU, because if it did, if the world really had to respond to every offense ever taken by every person to ever walk this earth, well come on, you know that’s ridiculous. Nobody would be able to say or write or do anything. The world would turn into some giant vanilla ego-stroking orgy. And there’s no way that’s any fun.
So if that’s true, if quite clearly the world can’t respond to every offended person on the planet, WHAT, dare I ask, makes you so fucking special?
Oh, yes. That’s right. You’re not. You’re only that special in your own head, and possibly your mom’s.
So once again, we’re back to “your problem.”
So please, people of the interwebs getting offended all the time and sharing it with us (and then getting more offended because nobody cares), for the love of logic and effectiveness, move beyond your damn feelings for a minute and look at what’s causing them.
Tell me why I’m wrong.
Tell me what I’m not seeing.
Tell me what you’ve experienced that I have not, leading you to see the world differently, from a different place in a different way, and maybe, just maybe, even an asshole like me will take a moment to think about what you’re saying.
Because to begin with, you’re actually, finally, saying something.
So go you.