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How Choosing to be Offended is Not Serving You

By Edited Mar 27, 2016 7 10

You read it all the time, “Joe Somebody is offended by racist/sexist/inappropriate remark,” but do you ever stop and ask why is Joe Somebody offended? Or what does it even mean to be offended in the first place? To me, being offended is a socially acceptable form of whining to your mother because your brother/friend made fun of you or said something mean. Let’s face it… you weren’t offended; your feelings were hurt. There are ALWAYS people in this world that are going to say hurtful things and every one of us will be hurt at one time or another. But, does being offended serve any purpose to the offended or the offender? I would argue no.

Offended Baby

Offended Baby
Credit: pixabay.com

Let’s talk about the offender for a moment.  When someone says something hurtful they are either doing so intentionally or accidentally.  If it is intentional, then acknowledging their success by saying you are offended is like giving them an A on their “being an ass” exam.  I personally do not like to give out A’s for being an ass, so acknowledging they hurt my feelings (i.e., offended me) will only help them and hurt you.  Also, if someone is intentionally being an ass, they are likely living a much more miserable life than you and that should be punishment enough for them.

Let’s look at the second category of offenders, the accidental ones.  What does the word accidental mean?  It is the exact opposite of intentional.  You simply cannot be mad at someone for hurting your feelings by accident.  It’s like getting mad at a child for not understanding calculus.  Seriously!? You call that a derivative?!  But, this is not to say that you cannot do anything.  This scenario provides you with a very big opportunity to educate!  Not to yell or name call or demean them, but simply to educate them.  Lead this discussion by talking about your HURT feelings.  And yes, you need to use the words hurt and not offend.  To be honest, using the word “offend” is only going to make them defensive and you will get nowhere (most likely).  But, people turn into little balls of mush when others talk about their feelings.  Don’t talk about facts, talk about feelings people!  Why did they hurt your feelings?  Are you willing to forgive them?  Are you willing to truly listen to them?  We all come from different backgrounds/cultures/parents/etc. and if you really listen to what someone else has to say, you may learn something.  They may learn something too.  Most people aren’t trying to be mean, sometimes they are trying to be funny, but usually they aren’t trying to be mean.  If they are, then they are in that other category and they aren’t worth your time.   

By simply being offended, you are serving no purpose except sitting and whining about your feelings.  Yes hurt feelings suck, but what are you going to do about it?  Do you even want to do anything about it?  Do you just want attention for being hurt?  If so, you may have to do some growing up.  Or worse, do you want to hurt the other person?  If so, you are doing the EXACT same thing you are accusing them of doing and you are no better than them just because your feelings were hurt first.   Be the bigger person and do something constructive with your feelings.   

Let’s look at this another way.  The word “offend” requires an offender and an offended.  The offender is like the plaintiff; they are the one to blame while the offended is like the defendant or the victim.  The problem with this scenario is that it requires the offender to read the mind of the offended!  If the offender does not know the other person is offended, then how could his words be malicious?  To me this is an unfair accusation because in many circumstances, a person becomes an offender unintentionally.  And by saying you’re offended, you are now placing the blame for YOUR hurt feelings on someone else.  As far as I know, it is not possible to cause someone else to feel something.  Yes you could hit someone and cause them pain, but we’re only talking words here.  Do I really have to be responsible for everyone’s feelings around me?  Can I never say a blond joke even though I have blond hair?  Can we ever laugh again?  Or are we all simply going to be offended all day long and never get anything worthwhile accomplished?



Apr 8, 2015 12:40pm
Sheeple are indeed stupid, and these days everyone is "offended" by something (whether real or imaginary, whether they are truly offended or not; I think most people who claim to be "offended" are just trying to selfishly draw attention to themselves, or pretending to be taking some imaginary moral high ground). Good slam! Thumb.
Apr 9, 2015 5:03am
I like your point about the offended selfishly drawing attention to themselves. If only people knew how to draw attention to themselves for something positive! Unfortunately, our society doesn't seem to think hard work, success and intelligence are worthy of attention anymore, so they result to childish antics. (By the way, I also love the term "sheeple")
Apr 9, 2015 11:12am
I use the word "sheeple" a lot ( most recently in a thing I dis about the fraud involving chocolate diamonds) because that's how I tend to think of the bleating, unwashed, and unintelligent masses.

Also, these days, people seem to think they have a "right" to be offended. They do not: what they have a right to is reasoned discourse, not merely to be "offended" for the sake of being offended.

I get people all the time who take "offense" at some things in my material--their failure to take such things in the context in which they are presented says more about them than it does me.

Keep writing!
Apr 10, 2015 8:06pm
This article is pure gold.

There are people in this world who are never happier than when they've just discovered something they can act offended about. Those people should be avoided at all costs.

Keep up the great writing!
Apr 11, 2015 9:46am
Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me.

There is no happiness in trying to become a victim. You may gain sympathy, but only from the kind of people that will bring you down in life. Misery loves company :-)
Apr 13, 2015 7:08pm
It's true that getting offended serves no purpose at all. It's hard to understand why some people get offended easily by the simplest things. These days, even a children's fairy tale movie (such as Cinderella) can offend some people.
Apr 15, 2015 1:54pm
I agree. Taking offense is like a reflex some people have. They make everything personal when it's not. Everyone has their feelings hurt from time to time. We often fail to realise that this big old world doesn't dance to our tune. It is well and good to have opinions, beliefs and and even feelings but when we become one with them, we lose sight of ourselves. Whether a mind or a parachute, keep it open at all times. This article is a great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. Thank you!
Apr 10, 2016 9:19pm
Interesting. I have never used the word "offend" in this kind of context. However, it seems to be a U.S. thing. I just got back from a 2 month stay in Arizona. I got into a discussion with somebody down there over I can't remember what. I was really taken aback when they later apologized for offending me, which they hadn't at all because I really enjoy a good debate. What did they mean? Was it actually they that had been offended? Were they implying that I had expressed my opinion too strongly? Were they saying that people shouldn't go around disagreeing with other people's opinions? The whole incident put a damper on what I had thought was a free and open discussion of ideas.

Apr 11, 2016 5:42am
I had a very similar situation where I got into a really interesting debate with a friend and later received an apology text for "getting out of hand" and that they had hoped that had not "offended me." Honestly, I had a great time and really appreciated their willingness to express an honest opinion. Now I feel uncomfortable engaging that person in a discussion because I'm afraid it will be misinterpreted. It is unfortunate because sharing ideas and opinions is how you get bigger and better ideas!
Apr 11, 2016 10:17am
Another argument to support the point of your article - if everybody in a society worried about offending other people they would never challenge the status quo, so it would become a sort of tacit censorship.
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