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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen this quote from Stephen Fry flying around alot recently..

'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...it's simply 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'm offended by that,' well so fucking what?'

I'll be honest.. I never really thought about it like that until I saw the quote.. Is Fry right? Do you agree with him?

I'm not sure if this was the right place to post this, but basically, what are your opinions on this quote?

For example; On Twitter, I frequently see people 'joking' about AIDS and it's all hilarious, but as soon as someone comes in and says the word cancer, they're the most disgusting person in the world. I'm not saying anything is right or wrong in this scenario, but I don't understand how you can find AIDS jokes funny, but then be offended by cancer jokes. Ideally, neither of those jokes would exist, but they do, so we have to deal with it. But surely, the people who feel offended by cancer jokes have to be choosing to be offended if they find AIDS jokes funny? Probably wasn't the best example, but it's the first one that came into my mind.
 

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Well I tend to have arguments in my mind over whether I should bother feeling offended by something, so I guess I'd say I choose whether to be offended or not. Usually I decide there is simply no point. Really thin skinned people kind of irritate me. Being offended generally doesn't do anyone much good.
 
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I think that we choose to be offended. As an example, I get offended by bad odors. But I could walk away from what is stinky unless the source of the stink sits next to me on the bus. Then I am stuck feeling offended (and a little bit sick), lol.
 

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I've believed this for a long time... and whenever people say "I'm offended by that", I just roll my eyes since it is such a waste of energy to be offended.

My first experience with the emotion was back in middle school where I got really offended by something a teacher of mine said during class at school. It made me really angry and upset for the longest time, but then one day I realized it was stupid to get upset by her to begin with since her opinion didn't matter anyway. I then got mad at myself for wasting so much energy on the "offended" emotion that I decided it didn't really have a purpose. Nothing good came from feeling offended and it was completely unproductive. After that, I chose to stop feeling offended since it's a lot of wasted energy over nothing. It's better to just ignore whatever upsets you since a vast majority of the time, it is something completely harmless. Some people are jerks; so who cares what they think?

Then I hate it when people claim to be offended by something I said. There's other things to talk about... why waste so much on this? It's tiring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I tend to feel the same. It's just wasted energy getting worked up over something stupid. And if it doesn't directly affect you, then why do you even care anyway?
 

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If a person is offended by a stupid joke on the internet, that is their mistake.

That being said, being "offended" has its place. If my daughter was that girl who drank bleach to kill herself and I happened to glance at the poor taste in jokes, of course I am going to be offended. It does feel good knowing that all of those people are just fail trolls who are trying to make themselves feel cool by instigating emotion from an already emotional subject.

On the other hand, if I were to say I disagree with American politics as a whole and feel this country isn't the greatest in the world while a more "patriotic" person says that statement offends them is quite another matter. Opinions should never offend you, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to you. I feel one of the biggest issues in humanity has always been to accept another persons opinion. This stems from their own dogmatic upbringing being drilled into their psyche coupled with the old idiom "different is bad", especially here in America (unless you are famous, and even then you probably still suck.)

In a nutshell, I believe everyone should believe what they want and accept/not get butthurt over all other beliefs.
 

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I agree with you OP, though I think like @Heyoka says, there is a place for taking a kind of offense sometimes ... maybe not feeling directly attacked, but in standing up for what you know is right. What comes to my mind is a video that was in the news and probably a big deal online at some point--it was quite some time ago by now--of a bunch of teenage kids harassing an older lady on a bus, calling her fat and terribly verbally abusing her. Someone could have stood to take some offense in that situation and stood up for that to stop. But it's a qualified sense of "offense" perhaps, in that one need not take it as a personal affront or feel hate or despair, simply that sometimes one has to stand up that something someone is doing or saying just isn't right.
 

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Everyone has things that affect them like that. Which is why, if you don't want your nerves touched, don't go poking around your neighbors' ones. Besides, in comedy, either everything can be made fun of or nothing. There are no middle grounds; which is what most people don't seem to get.
 

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Whenever someone says "I'm offended at what you just said" I just say "I'm offended at you for being offended".
 

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Some people certainly can be offended easily. Just post something about "gender", "feminism", "PUA", "cheating" or "racism" here and a couple of people will attack you vehemently without even trying to understand your opinion.
Some words and/or subjects apparently trigger a strong emotional response in many people.

I think the example of "AIDS" vs. "cancer" in the OP was pretty good. Both are potentially deadly medical conditions but both words trigger completely different emotional reactions.

Me, I don't get offended easily. At least not by something some idiot writes on the internet or by what some dickhead politician says. I'm somewhat more sensitive in my professional surrounding but yes, I think we can always "choose" not to be offended, just sometimes it's more difficult to make this choice.
 

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When I say "I find that offensive," I consider it an expression of feeling.

Sure there are people who are like, "well why express feeling? I don't care. I don't want to hear your feelings." But then, there are probably people who are all, "why wear that kind of shirt? I don't like it....I don't like blonde hair..." blah blah. I suppose that could be a little like being "offended," which I'm sure that many people who claim to dislike offendedness experience.

Expressing this feeling is not as important as examining it, IMO (usually). If something offends me then that tells me something about my values or perhaps something I'm repressing. Or maybe even something I'm intuiting, but not accepting. Since most of my arguments and even a lot of my interests are fertilized by emotions like anger, I think it's useful to be offended sometimes. If something really offends me, then it is a call to action--that someone is doing something seriously wrong (and I must argue with it or attempt to stop it).

But "I'm offended by that" does have meaning, if it is said honestly. Not that everyone will care about that meaning. It sounds like Stephen Fry gets offended by people who are offended. Oh well, so fucking what? lol how dare he talk about it?

Maybe he means that if something is really offensive, there is no need to say that--just to act. But I think that sometimes people would rather hear "that offends me," than be slapped or severely verbally attacked (or any other manner of action that offended people might feel inclined to perform).
 

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I wonder if "I'm offended" takes the place of actual vulnerability somehow. Seems to me that people (where I live at least, speaking here of the US cultural context) don't say things like "that really hurts/freaks me out" - not in a fake victim-positioning mode but with genuine vulnerability.

So I'm thinking maybe this "offended" thing comes along to fill in the void where such vulnerability would otherwise be. And it doesn't do a good job because it's not honest. When used as a substitute for vulnerability it lacks a depth and genuineness, and when used by someone who isn't really affected, it also lacks genuine-ness.

But here's the thing. When I was a kid, I really believed that if someone was hurting me without needing to do so, and if I told them they were hurting me, they would stop. I applied this logic to some bullies on the bus and came to learn that actually, you're "not supposed to" show vulnerability because showing that is as likely to get people more interested in causing you pain as it is to get them to stop.

So we have all this fake stuff that goes on instead, and I suspect that "I'm offended" is occupying a space that would, in a saner and less violence-permeated cultural context, be occupied by simple communication of vulnerability and the hopefully unintentional effect of people's actions - with the goal of reducing the unnecessary hurt people cause each other.
 

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I wonder if "I'm offended" takes the place of actual vulnerability somehow. Seems to me that people (where I live at least, speaking here of the US cultural context) don't say things like "that really hurts/freaks me out" - not in a fake victim-positioning mode but with genuine vulnerability.

So I'm thinking maybe this "offended" thing comes along to fill in the void where such vulnerability would otherwise be. And it doesn't do a good job because it's not honest. When used as a substitute for vulnerability it lacks a depth and genuineness, and when used by someone who isn't really affected, it also lacks genuine-ness.

But here's the thing. When I was a kid, I really believed that if someone was hurting me without needing to do so, and if I told them they were hurting me, they would stop. I applied this logic to some bullies on the bus and came to learn that actually, you're "not supposed to" show vulnerability because showing that is as likely to get people more interested in causing you pain as it is to get them to stop.

So we have all this fake stuff that goes on instead, and I suspect that "I'm offended" is occupying a space that would, in a saner and less violence-permeated cultural context, be occupied by simple communication of vulnerability and the hopefully unintentional effect of people's actions - with the goal of reducing the unnecessary hurt people cause each other.
Yeah--that's really insightful.

I think that for me, if I were to say "that offends me," it would probably be in place of something more like, "what the fuck are you thinking, dipshit? Is there something wrong with your brain?" (I would never say that.)

Or, it could be in place of something like "that makes me really sad--I wonder if this person is trying to hurt my feelings. Too bad things didn't turn out as they could have" etc.

And I agree--statements that are technically "true," but are devoid of the emotional expression behind them can feel very sterile.

Maybe in situations where vulnerabilities are more acceptable, like (hopefully) in a relationship between close friends or lovers, the expression of those vulnerabilities might lead to something more creative. I would hope that people in intimate relationships would embrace the goal of "reducing the unnecessary" harm to each other.
 

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It sounds like Stephen Fry gets offended by people who are offended. Oh well, so fucking what? lol how dare he talk about it?
:laughing:



I wonder if "I'm offended" takes the place of actual vulnerability somehow. Seems to me that people (where I live at least, speaking here of the US cultural context) don't say things like "that really hurts/freaks me out" - not in a fake victim-positioning mode but with genuine vulnerability.

So I'm thinking maybe this "offended" thing comes along to fill in the void where such vulnerability would otherwise be. And it doesn't do a good job because it's not honest. When used as a substitute for vulnerability it lacks a depth and genuineness, and when used by someone who isn't really affected, it also lacks genuine-ness.

But here's the thing. When I was a kid, I really believed that if someone was hurting me without needing to do so, and if I told them they were hurting me, they would stop. I applied this logic to some bullies on the bus and came to learn that actually, you're "not supposed to" show vulnerability because showing that is as likely to get people more interested in causing you pain as it is to get them to stop.

So we have all this fake stuff that goes on instead, and I suspect that "I'm offended" is occupying a space that would, in a saner and less violence-permeated cultural context, be occupied by simple communication of vulnerability and the hopefully unintentional effect of people's actions - with the goal of reducing the unnecessary hurt people cause each other.
Yeah, if you tell someone that they hurt your feelings; you leave yourself open to them telling you that they don't care. I look at it this way: If someone wants to be in any kind of friendship/relationship with me; they had better damn well care about my feelings and vice-versa.

I think that people who seem to have excessive problems with other people being offended by them; might want to examine why they are going out of their way to annoy others. It all depends on the context of course, Jim Carrey made a hilarious video for Funny or Die that "offended" the gun nuts. I'm sure that he isn't losing any sleep over it.
 

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Yeah--that's really insightful.

I think that for me, if I were to say "that offends me," it would probably be in place of something more like, "what the fuck are you thinking, dipshit? Is there something wrong with your brain?" (I would never say that.)
So basically in this version it would be some sort of battle mode cloaked by an "I statement" that is actually a "you statement"?

Random tangent about "I statements" from the Honest Lesbian Personals (satire):

(and for the last goddamn time, “I think you are an asshole” IS an I statement! Stop acting like you understand this shit better than I do!).
Anyway, back on topic:

Or, it could be in place of something like "that makes me really sad--I wonder if this person is trying to hurt my feelings. Too bad things didn't turn out as they could have" etc.
Do you think situations might go differently if you actually said what you were feeling directly?

And I agree--statements that are technically "true," but are devoid of the emotional expression behind them can feel very sterile.

Maybe in situations where vulnerabilities are more acceptable, like (hopefully) in a relationship between close friends or lovers, the expression of those vulnerabilities might lead to something more creative. I would hope that people in intimate relationships would embrace the goal of "reducing the unnecessary" harm to each other.
*struggling with vulnerability in my relationship, marking this as worth reflecting on for connections*
 

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Well, this is an emotion we are talking about...people usually don't choose what to feel. Sometimes we can't force ourselves to feel a certain way, even if we wished we could. That being said, we can also choose to bite our tongues, take a look at the situation and decide if it's really worth playing the "offense" card. Even when it is worth it to speak up (defending a certain value for instance, or challenging a harmful tendency in society/people) I would never advise saying "I'm offended" to people's faces. It can sound sort of trivial and whiny nowadays, even in situations where it is really appropriate to take issue with someone's behaviour - blame the overuse of the expression.

And it should never stop at "I'm offended". It should be "you should not say/do that because...", and list the negative consequences. And you should understand the other person may have a rebuttal, perhaps a thoughtful one, and you should be open to that.

Now, I don't think offending people is a nice thing to do when it is just for fun (friendly teasing not included obviously). I don't enjoy poking at people's nerves and don't like it when people poke at mine, not better than shooting spitballs at someone in my opinion. But that isn't always why people "offend" people. Often the primary intention is really not to hurt, and in some cases there may indeed be no other way to get the thought across.
 

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My younger sister went through a stage where everything offended her. Extreme PC Police. Everyone tiptoed around her to avoid her going off like a fire alarm. For years she seemed to think she was higher on the food chain than the rest of humanity. I'd bet even Mother Teresa offended her at some point. It wore everyone down to where we all just tell her to f*** off now. Even her kids were learning to be PC police. But, seems that her pride is giving way to possibly having friends again, eventually. I actually saw her laugh once this year. A sign of change. Sometimes choosing to be offended is an alternative to thinking. I'd rather think. Most would, I'm sure. We're all better served. There are things that offend me but I don't try to be offended or use it to abuse people.
 
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So basically in this version it would be some sort of battle mode cloaked by an "I statement" that is actually a "you statement"?

Random tangent about "I statements" from the Honest Lesbian Personals (satire):



Anyway, back on topic:



Do you think situations might go differently if you actually said what you were feeling directly?



*struggling with vulnerability in my relationship, marking this as worth reflecting on for connections*
I don't really see a huge difference between the ultimate meaning behind "I" statements and "you" statements. The main difference is how they are received by another, and how much we've gleaned by sorting through raw emotion and tangled feeling to be able to produce an "I" statement.

Also, I find that expressing anger is often just a cloaking of other vulnerable feelings. I think that when we experience anger directed at another person, we can process that anger and what it means to us.

Lots of time, IMO, anger just shows us that something is happening that we don't like (and something needs to change). We could be doing this to ourselves and projecting it onto another, or it could be something that someone is doing that is affecting us. Examples of what we can learn from anger include learning where our boundaries are (indicating that we need to work on peacefully expressing and maintaining them), or (in situations that aren't really confrontational) learning what our values are (also, what we are repressing).

And then, also, a lot of anger is just covering up vulnerable feelings of desire, sadness, worthiness, fear etc.

Saying "this offends me" is the easiest, laziest way to express feelings. But if I felt like the other person was interested, I would elaborate. When I do express this (at least online), it tends to diffuse hostility and sometimes people even come to see my side of the issue, and I come to see theirs.

I'm adding this to comment on Fi/Fe relationships:
My ENFJ (I think) ex and I used to get into it at times. He would vent his feelings, and I would get upset at the way he said them (it was pretty extreme and un-edited with a lot of accusations and hurtful stuff).

I would clam up and he would accuse me of being "civil" and talking like a "robot." He wanted me to express feelings in a way that could be hurtful. But all that unedited darkness really hurt me a lot. He seemed able to bounce back from it and focus on the positives, and I could for a while...until I finally broke. Like a rubberband (I hate that analogy), I couldn't come back to him--he was, in a way, more flexible with his feelings and I was more brittle.

I always wanted him to see how much his expressions were upsetting me. I don't know if he really understood--but I read it that he didn't really care.
 

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I've been doing reading about this and it's not like we should just "ignore" or "accept" what other people are doing...but the actual response to allow the person to make you feel hurt, angry, or otherwise negative ...apparently a person can learn to control that, if it's looked at as giving the person your power.

Feelings can point to us what is wrong or needs to be changed. It does no good to ignore feelings or be apathetic. In fact you'll find that even the most devout Buddhists will enact peaceful social change against cruelty, oppression or violence for example.

So the feeling can still spurn us to take action. But the trick is learning to choose what we allow to make us feel overwhelmed, hurt and angry by acknowledging the feeling and choosing to set a boundary against allowing ourselves to get carried away by that feeling, because in doing so you're actually giving the "offender" more power.

Like some people have said it's a waste of energy, but the answer isn't to completely ignore the feelings. It's to learn to choose to stay centered or re-centered in the face of all of the negativity in the world because it's not going to do you any or anyone else any good to walk around drained.

Most yogis talk about this, and Max Strom discusses this extensively in his book A Life Worth Breathing. He points to Mother Theresa who managed to stay kind and positive even when surrounded by the sick, the dying, and terrible poverty. Then gives an example, say you're in a terrible car accident and you're laying on the ground mangled or bleeding, do you want the EMT to rush up to you and say "OMG this is an outrage! This is so terrible! What are we going to do!" Or do you want them to calmly take charge of the situation, saying "it's going to be okay" so they can actually help you.

He says it's the same way with allowing yourself to stay in a state of constant offense, hurt or anger by the negativity in the world. You're not going to be very good at helping the "mangled" if you're freaking out yourself.

One thing I saw advised in another yoga book was to take a break from politics. To remain away from things like debates and news programs for a time, so that the small tree is surrounded by a fence until it can grow into a large tree to give shade. Meaning stay away from "offensive" or energy-stealing things until you can learn to stay "centered" while facing them, so you can actually do some good.

I'm in the process of doing this, because I'm a very offendable person. The good news is that someone like me who is extremely limbic or violatile or easy to offend actually has great power to become a very strong force of good in the world if I could learn to stop controlling my reactivity or feelings of rage or pain.

So sometimes I just avoid forums, or stay away from debates or politics topics, and I often take breaks from watching television or the news.

You have to control the darkness or it will control you, and apathy isn't the answer either, and neither is repression.

This theme runs not only through yoga, Buddhism, and Penn and Teller...it actually is present in Christianity. Take the idea of an exorcism for example. You don't want a priest there so vulnerable to the insults or proddings of evil that it will overtake him during an exorcism. You want someone who can just be like "shut up foul beast" and drive out the demon.

Maybe that's not a good example for Christians who aren't Catholics, but Biblically speaking, think about the verses where it instructs Christians to think of and speak of whatever is lovely and is pure and always keep their mind on faith hope love peace.

It's all the same idea, and it's the same idea behind CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy.

People who naturally deny or repress emotions don't have the right answer either, though. It's more complex than that. You still have to acknowledge the feelings or even express them, without allowing them to overtake you.
 

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Only if it is directed at me with mal intent do I choose to be offended. Otherwise, I just consider the person stupid and/or ignorant ... smile like a good ISFJ and go along my way. I really have a great ability to remain objective in the most extreme circumstances (emotionally), but the minute facts are thrown my way I will solidify by opinion on a matter. Too many people are influences to believe one way or the other without regard to all the options and understanding available.

We're all stupid.
 
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