Why Are We So Afraid Of Being Offended Or Offending Someone When We Speak?

Why Are We So Afraid Of Being Offended Or Offending Someone When We Speak?

What makes someone feel offended?

When you're offended, you are responding to an event that is disproportionate to reality. For example, you may feel some emotions if you're going on a first date, or if you're starting up a new job. This mindset seems to be changing for Americans.

Unless you have been living under a rock the past couple years, you will notice an increase in the number of people being offended — on the internet or off of it.

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Why is that? Why have we turned into people who would rather be punched in the face than be called a name that offends us? Why have we turned into people who have utter hatred for anyone who makes fun of a politician we’ve never even met? Why does our day immediately change from good to bad if someone cuts us off or flips the finger at us in traffic?

Whether you have seen or have been someone who took part in an “offensive” activity, then you know America likes to encourage overly sensitive people to stop all such activity.

This isn’t just about politics. This about a fundamental human right that we need in our society.

Here’s a little history lesson: Back in World War II, Hitler controlled most of Europe and the Japanese were raiding most of Asia. There was a sense of hopelessness. How did the democratic nations come together? Through comedy. There are countless pictures mocking Hitler and making a fool out of a person who was a major threat at the time.

These pictures allowed the oppressed people to laugh and feel joy in a world that was otherwise filled with darkness and despair. Comedy played a huge role in giving morale to the men who felt hopeless, and to the British citizens who were bombed every single day.

I tell you this to show why comedy — and offense — is important. My generation didn't grow up in World War II or any major war. We haven't experienced a lot of the worst things that humanity has faced in the past, so that’s why, when we do experience a tiny piece of it, we immediately collapse. That has led us to believe that when our feelings get hurt that it truly means something.

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People can take offense to different things  to anything. Trying to avoid offending others will cause you to walk on eggshells in any conversation. It will cause you to avoid topics that some people may find interesting or important, and it will lead us closer to the dystopian world of 1984.

The Nazis were known for censoring a lot of speech and comedy, so the issues we faced then are still prevalent in today's society. Thanks to the wonders of globalization and capitalism, we haven’t experienced famines or dictatorships, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still issues we need to address that people might find offensive or irritating to discuss openly.

No matter what you are talking about, there will be someone out there that will find what you are saying offensive.

A lot of comedians from every race, gender, and sexual orientation are being censored and limited in their topics of discussion because of the fear of being called insensitive. However, this leads comedians like Bill Burr to be even more offensive in their comedy, trying to make more of a public outcry. Instead of focusing first on making people laugh, comedians lean toward focusing on making people feel offended or “triggered", or polarize the opposite way and miss out on opportunities to say something important through their comedy.

We shouldn’t hate when we get offended — we should love it. Heck, we should proactively go out there and trigger ourselves — start to understand those fears inside of us that we need to conquer.

We can't let the fear of offense stop us from expressing ourselves, and we shouldn't have to hold back from talking through the issues at hand. When we face our fears, we begin to start asking, “What next? What else can we accomplish?”

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Steven Hall is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.