self improvement

Why are we so easily offended?

Why are we so easily offended?

I like to say inappropriate things that shock people. I choose my audience well and will only such things in front of those that I know understand my sense of humour.

I think I do this because it seems people are so easily offended at small things. I think to some extent, it frustrates me. It frustrates me how politically correct everyone has to be in this day and age, it frustrates me how we can’t say certain things incase we offend people, it frustrates me how we have to change old sayings, traditions or words because we might offend people.

Oh, that picture is of me as a kid, by the way. I’ve been offending people since 1986.

How far will we go?

Christmas trees are referred to as holiday trees in some American schools. One even renamed Easter Eggs as ‘Spring Spheres’. Anything with the word ‘man’ in front of it has been changed in some instances (manhole, man-made fibres, postman). Santa can’t say ‘ho ho ho’ because it’s slang for prostitutes and the nursery rhyme ‘bar bar blacksheep’ was banned from some nurseries.

Have you ever noticed how embarrassed we get talking about some subjects around certain people? It’s built in us not to say some things incase we cause offence. It’s almost like we don’t know how to react. Like we’re so unsure of what is okay and what isn’t, we just shy away of the subject all together.

For example, an old work colleague was describing someone to me. She described him as ‘black’, then went instantly bright red out of embarrassment. Even though he was black, it was like she was describing him as something nasty. She wasn’t racist, she wasn’t nasty towards him, she was just describing what he looks like.

But we’re so afraid of offending people, of being labelled racist, sexist, homophobic, not respecting religion or animals or God goodness knows what else!

I’m sure the intention behind it all was good – everyone should be treated equality, not discriminated against or made to feel inferior to others, but it seems that it’s all gone a bit pear shaped (no offence to any pears reading this).

I’m offended!

We, as humans, are excellent at pointing out the mistakes of other people. It’s as if highlighting when somebody has done something wrong gives us a sense of dignity, it makes us feel like we’re better than them. Like we’re important and we are right.

I think it’s a little bit petty and immature. It shows a weakness in character as you’re investing too much of your emotional energy and your time in the things other people say and do. We are letting other people control our emotions. It’s not productive and it certainly is not healthy.

Just to be clear here, there are some examples of when somebody should rightly take offence at something – but mostly, it’s a general comment that isn’t personal to a person that offends them.

Somebody else I used to work with called his friend a cunt on Facebook. They were joking and both parties understood the humour. Somebody else saw the comment, took offence and reported it to management. A full investigation had to be completed.

Instances like that baffle me. Instances when a fleeting comment, a bit of banter between friends and something not aimed personally at anyone else could bring up such feelings of rage and disgust, that it could offend somebody to the point of filing an official complaint. This is just on a small scale – I’ve heard of similar situations in the media that have ended in court cases.

Maybe the friends should have refrained from commenting on social media that could be viewed by others – but is it really rational for somebody not within the situation to become offended?

I also remember the instance where a Big Brother contestant was removed from the house because she referred to a black housemate as ‘nigger’. Not in an offensive way, but the way black rappers go around calling each other nigger. Yet, that awful Gold Digga song is around. Life is mental. The black contestant didn’t take offence, but she was still removed.

I just sometimes think that people often look for reasons to be offended, as it makes them feel different or superior in some way.

How not to be offended.

I wrote this post to try and encourage people to stop being bothered by things that don’t matter, not to influence people to go around throwing offensive language at each other! I’m trying to give myself a better view of the world and the people in it and this is one of the lessons I’ve learnt to help me to that:

  • Stop letting pointless things get to me and ruin my day and mood.

Just think of much happier you would feel if you didn’t let those things niggle at you?

Just let it go, move on, don’t over think and waste your energy on something so.. unimportant. Is it really important that some ignorant person said made a vague comment that someone could take offence at?

Focus your time and effort on important things, such as working hard, spending time with your family and friends, improving your knowledge in something. Any time you’re thinking about something negative is time you’re wasting.

Here are some tips:

  1. Think about the benefits of being offended. Is holding a grudge towards somebody who probably isn’t even that important to you worth it? Is holding a grudge against someone who is very important to you worth the loss of the relationship? What positive thing can you think up of holding something against somebody? I can’t think of much.
  2. Think of things from their point of view. Maybe they don’t mean to offend. Maybe they’re having a bad day, they’re tried, they’re stressed, they have an ill parent or family member and their emotions are out of control.
  3. Lighten up a little bit. Use your sense of humour and try to see the funny side if it is a joke. Let go of your negativity and allow yourself to smile.
  4. Have that adult conversation. If you’re still offended by it, rather than walk away with a sour taste in your month – just say you don’t agree with it there and then and explain why. Most people don’t mean to offend and I’m sure they will feel terrible and apologise if they knew you were offended. Someone may say something that is really personal to you and upsets you – try to confront those feelings rather than carry them inside you.
  5. Establish your boundaries. There are some people that might say things to me which others may deem offensive, but I don’t take offence. This is because we know where we stand with each other. If somebody close to you says something that you find offensive, follow point 4.
  6. Recognise the difference between a harmless joke and something that has been said to cause pain. Those that say things to intentionally cause pain are toxic and you don’t need them in your life.
  7. Don’t make it about you. If it’s not about you, then don’t make it about you. Too many people take things to heart that have nothing to do with them.
  8. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Internet makes this so easy – things go viral quickly and before you know it, a million people are all upset over a stupid comment/joke/saying. It’s like that sense of belonging we all have to agree with the masses because we’re decent people and that’s offensive. It can very quickly get out of hand. Mountain. Molehill. Get over it.

There’s a massive difference between a harmless saying and somebody being a dick. If people are being dicks, then yeah, feel free to hate them.

What do you think?


1. noun: a female blogger that writes about her own experiences, observations and opinions. 2. verb: to act like a complete idiot or to do something stupid. e.g: She did a Corinne.


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