the unspoken rule to “not do”

imageI had a conversation with a relative about how a young boy who had done nothing wrong but someone decided to be offended and therefore he got in trouble. This reminded what I have learned as an adult: just do not say or do anything. Really, that is exactly the message society is adopting.

Not many years ago I was a part of an online group where people were constantly sharing stories of being offended. I learned that it was offensive to visit somebody without calling first. How dare you just get the impression to visit someone while in their neighborhood without informing them first. However, it was also offensive to call them. Calling signified you did not care for their schedule and you should only call at certain times. Don’t forget, it is also offensive to not answer the phone because people should be at your ready at all times. They do not have individuals lives.

I learned it was offensive to say just about any word as anything you could say would or could be interpreted to mean something derogatory or otherwise offensive. Even giving cookies to your neighbor has become offensive or wrong because you should know they have an allergy or are on a diet, or you must just want something from them. Don’t forget to keep your eyes to yourself too because looking is offensive.

Children can no longer hug, play, or pretend because anything could be interpreted as bad, sexual, or scary. People at work cannot mention their religion, orientation, or even tell someone they look nice because all those things could be taken offensively. Are you getting the idea yet?

We live in a society where you should not say or do anything and if you do you open yourself up to scrutiny and judgement. Sometimes you may even be sued-because suing is what people do to teach the offender a lesson.

Have we really become that silly and petty as a group of people? Can we no longer allow people to have different ideas and opinions without being offended? Are we really so self-absorbed that we expect everybody to be exactly the way we think our perfect self would be? Really? Really?

This reminds me of what society is teaching my children. Not long ago my daughter mentioned how she was offended because there are not many women in history and women cannot do many things. I was quite taken aback as that is not what I teach her. A few days later I saw a commercial she had seen. One with young girls being offended that there were not more emoticons with girl hair. Really? They made young girls the target of a message that was supposed to teach them about how women can do many things but instead it taught that you need to be offended and girls are not represented enough. This is the message my daughter got. Forget that no one has ever told her she cannot do something because she is a girl. This commercial said so and so then she all of a sudden felt oppressed along with the need to be offended. (As a note: I am not arguing if there really is or is not enough representation of any gender, race or belief.) So, I had to teach my daughter about being offended along with recognizing what she actually sees in her life and actually making a difference in her world instead of becoming angry.

Even though society is teaching me to not do or say anything I must do the opposite. I cannot live a life in quiet and solitude. I share this world with many many people. There will often be times I offend others, I am sure, but I do not do so with intent. Perhaps that is the problem. In a world where we have so much information and technology we expect people to be perfect and forget that they are imperfect humans. With that–it is still wise to not purposefully try to offend. Just stop being offended over everything and let’s bring back common sense.

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