Being Offended

I find that I don’t understand the desire or willingness to be offended.

It’s not that things aren’t offensive; they certainly can be. S*hole countries! God and guns! Binders full of women! Baskets of deplorables! (… the latter two of which weren’t actually all that offensive, but were purposefully taken out of context for political gain.)

The list of potential offenders is endless, granted.

But what bugs me – what OFFENDS me, if you want to be humorous and slightly inaccurate about it – is that people latch on to these things and hang on for dear life. “Binders full of women? IT IS TIME TO HOWL FOR BLOOD!” … never mind that Romney was actually saying that they had plenty of qualified women in mind for various things, which isn’t offensive at all.

(It’d actually have been MORE offensive had they not had women known to be qualified for positions… and yes, yes, I know, there are those who are now muttering to themselves that SURELY this was segregation by gender and was therefore also offensive.)

The rush to being offended is dumb; it leads us down a path of idiotic tribalism (where eventually every tribe has a single member, making EVERY OTHER HUMAN an “other” and therefore a threat.)

I don’t think it’s necessary to “stop being offended” – but it’s time to really consider whether being offended is worth it. Sometimes it is!

But we need to be very, very careful about being offended – eventually our having been offended becomes the noise with which we’re identified, and our outrage serves for nothing but creating spaces between us and our tribes – and evil lives there.

Needs are often subjective, even if we don’t recognize that

How much pain could be forgotten if we remembered that many of our needs are subjective?

They’re not all subjective, of course… if you take something from the base of Maslow’s pyramid from a person, that person will logically and realistically suffer. Air, food, water, shelter… all critical to human survival.

But love? Self-esteem? The iPhone X? Companionship? All desirable, no doubt… but subjective needs. If I want an iPhone and don’t have one, I have options:

  • Endure (because the need’s not real; it’s a desire, instead)
  • Complain
  • Act…
    • Improperly (steal one somehow, or lash out until my desire is fulfilled)
    • Properly (buy one, choosing the iPhone over other things I might use the money for)

To be clear, an iPhone is a made-up desire for me; I have an Android phone and I’m satisfied with it. Even if I wasn’t satisfied with my phone, I wouldn’t find an iPhone to be a compelling investment; a cheaper phone would do everything I needed.

But you can say the same thing about most desires: they’re subjective. They’re not concrete things to satisfy… and they’re easily replaced. Get an iPhone today, and tomorrow that desire might be for a virtual reality rig instead, with similar intensity.

It’s easy to get confused, to say that your needs (or my needs) are needs and not desires, are concrete and not subjective… and when they go unfulfilled, we get angry, and angry people are stupid people.

What needs do you have? What needs do you have that don’t actually affect your survival from day to day?