For my teenage years and until about the age of 23, it offended me when people mocked my accent. I have a deep Southern drawl, and that particular drawl is most often associated with stupidity. Some people made fun of it because they're jerks, others did it thinking they were flattering me or trying to be like me. Either way it made me bristle. So did other things, but making fun of my teeth (they're pretty ridiculous) or accent was a surefire way to get me angry for days. It almost ended mine and Madi's friendship once.
Then I found this infamous quote by Stephen Fry: "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what." I was floored, because I agreed 100 percent with this statement (and still do.) Offense isn't given. It's not handed out by people in masks to unsuspecting victims. Offense is taken. You must take offense to something to be offended by it. In a way, it's your own choice.
Once I realized it was my choice to feel offended by something, the world seemed a lot less cruel and aimed at destroying my life. So here are my tips on how to not take offense and why it helps:
You can't change people's stupid as shit actions, only YOUR reaction. Someone may say or do something completely asinine--for example, let's say you're not okay with rape jokes, MANY people aren't--and you see one on Facebook, or overhear it at a party. Cue defensive chemical brain reaction and anger, frustration, indignation, loss of pride, shakey hands, the works. What exactly are you going to do about this? You might confront the person and have an argument, one that no one will probably win. You might splash a drink on them and feel better about it, but what have you solved? You might punch them in the head and then spend the night in jail listening to a wino sing about Vegas.
It's a Waste of Time. Or you can choose to shut out whatever distasteful, flaming, hateful, stupid message people are sending. Chances are, they're saying it to get a reaction out of you or push limits (don't give them the satisfaction) and you'll never change their viewpoint anyway. I choose to be annoyed at skinny hipster kids who wear war bonnets (why Lana Del Rey? Why...we had a thing...) but being offended at them is a waste of my time and energy and won't change the outcome of anything in either party's life.
Don't Surround Yourself with Idiots. It's hard, actually. Lots of people are utter garbage and they're stupid. But I see so many people being offended with racism, sexism, and so on when the people who are spouting off whatever offensive bullshit ARE NOT NECESSARY IN THEIR LIVES. We keep a lot of clutter around and that clutter includes asshole people most of the time. Even after I found the Stephen Fry quote and worked on not being offended, certain people would still always manage to get under my skin. It was hard in a few instances to cut those people out, but doing so made such a difference in my outlook on things. I'm not saying ban anyone from your life whoever said something stupid, I'm talking about the level 10 morons that always upset and/or offend you. Let 'em go. Real friends and family don't treat you insensitively.
You Can Believe in Causes Without Being Offended. For example, I believe strongly in abortion rights. I know there are people who don't. They call people who are pro-choice a lot of awful things including, and starting off with, baby killers. Wow, pretty offensive. But why should I take offense? I feel strong in my belief and nothing can challenge it. It may be the same with you--and the reason we get offended in the first place. We feel challenged. Again, that's something that is totally under your control. Don't let it turn into a challenge, just accept that not everyone agrees, be mildly annoyed, and then get away from whatever person or source is offending you. You and your beliefs will exit the scenario intact and you won't even have to cause a scene.
Being Offended Never Solved Anything. So you want to stop homophobia, a worthy cause if I do say so myself. When someone says "sup faggot" you get pissy. I don't blame you. But really look at the details; you can't police the internet or the world or what people say. You can go to fundraisers and rallies and you can blog about change and you can actually be a supporter of gay rights. You can even, in this situation, mildly explain that using the word faggot, or gay, as an insult, is not really helpful for human rights and you'd appreciate if it wasn't said to you/at you/around you. Maybe the person will listen. Maybe they won't. All you've done is showcased your belief, kept things cool, and set a boundary. But if you get offended, if you rage or cry, if you call them a grade-a-shit-faced-douchenozzle, not only will you anger THEM, but you'll be angry, and nothing you say will have much merit after that. When you feel yourself getting offended, remember: it never solves the problem.
I hope this blog entry + these tips gave you something to munch on. And join in next time where I talk about my fake parents!!