Don’t be offended–or do? Offensive Topics and Unmarked Lines
By Shaciah Lee
Being offended is a natural part of human mental function. Feeling contempt because of the words or actions of another person is a human trait that leads to one very important thing: change. But are we too easily offended?
When it comes to offending people, There’s an unmarked line that we aren’t supposed to cross, but it’s just that: unmarked.
We can jokingly make fun of normal events and occurrences all the time but the instant a semi-controversial topic is brought up, suddenly there’s an enemy and a pro side and a con side. Sometimes it turns into full-blown war when simpleminded people can’t sit down and calmly discuss their problems. The unfortunate thing is, everything in our society seems to be semi-controversial.
At what point do we just need to spritz water into someone’s face and tell them to get some perspective?
Americans act like 5-year-olds who can’t get what we want. A 5-year-old might cry over not getting the kind of candy they want, but a 15 (or 50) year old might throw a “mature” temper tantrum over the fact that “America’s Favorite Coffee Place” changed the color of its cups.
People are starving in other countries. There’s poverty all over our country–including the fact that our country itself is in debt–and you’re focusing on the color of a cup because it offends you.
They’re disposable cups. Get. Over. It.
Environmentalists will tell you to stop buying them to save the planet anyways.
Other topics, though, have lines that are harder to define. Ugly Christmas sweaters, for example. Recently, Target has taken a lot of flack for selling a Christmas sweater that says “OCD: Obsessive Christmas Disorder.”
OCD, which actually stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a legitimate mental illness that should be taken seriously, just like depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and autism. We as a society do need to focus on these things, so people have a right to be offended by this. If people are offended and say something about it, we can raise awareness and hopefully achieve some sort of societal change. It is a legitimate issue that people need to take seriously.
We, as a society, have a right to be offended by certain things. There are certain topics that should not be glazed over. Fretting over the color of a disposable cup is silly, and while being offended about a sweater that jokes about OCD is OK, joking about it should be OK, too.
Along those lines, we know that making fun of alcoholism itself is offensive and bad, but we have no problem making fun of the way people act when they’re drunk. We don’t know whether or not someone who is drinking out-of-control is suffering from alcoholism. That person may be undergoing some serious struggles, but no one cares to think about that because they’re too busy thinking about how humorous it is when we imitate the way they act.
This is societally acceptable; but being light-hearted about using the term OCD is bad? OCD and alcoholism both are problems that bring a lot of suffering to people. It should not be socially acceptable to joke about one but not the other.
Yes: they should be taken seriously.
But our society has a tendency to joke about serious topics so they are easier to handle.
OCD should not be different, as long as we are able to recognize what it really is and take it seriously when it needs to be taken seriously.
Besides, the people who suffer from OCD and alcoholism are still normal people. OCD isn’t a very well known problem, but maybe these sweaters will spark conversation. Maybe they’ll increase awareness in some form, even if it’s only a baby step.
We have a right to be offended by things, but many people take that too far in both ways. Some get offended about everything, while some are overly rude and offensive, because the line between offensive and socially acceptable is undefined.
Solution: look at the big picture. Is the issue still relevant? If so, maybe it’s worth being offended by. But think again before you start a big fuss about something like the design of a disposable coffee cup.