I posted on Facebook recently about a meme that has been bothering me as it makes its way onto my timeline about five or six times a day. Unsurprisingly, those who have loved or shared that meme jumped to defend it and labeled me as "too sensitive" or "too easily offended."
It's a sentiment I see a lot, the idea that "people nowadays" are so easily offended and just need to relax. I do think that most of the people who claim this can probably also be offended if the right trigger is hit; they're just lucky that their triggers aren't as popular online as some others ;-)
So why is everybody (myself included) so danged easy to offend (or hurt, anger, etc)? Why do we have such strong reactions to things we see online?
Social media saturates us.
If I had seen that meme just once, I probably would've rolled my eyes and moved on. If the idea behind it wasn't one I see hashed and rehashed on all platforms frequently, I probably wouldn't have such a tender spot over it. But it's frequent. Constant. The issue is never not in front of my face. Chances are, if something you say hurts someone, it's not the first time they've heard or read it recently.
Social media emboldens us.
We've all seen Internet trolls... they make up fake names and post deliberately provocative comments on articles or posts, and they feel safe in their rudeness - and sometimes flat-out hatefulness - because they hide behind the relative anonymity of their keyboard. But what about us normal people? Do we still say things online that we probably wouldn't say in real life? Or do we approach subjects with less tact and caution than we would in person? Could it be because we can't see the faces on the other side of the screen and how they are hurt, confused, angered, disgusted by the things we say?
Social media widens our circle.
Social media makes us offensive.
Do I think social media is bad? Of course not. For one thing, that would be a stupid thing for a blogger to say ;-) But also, a widened circle has meant more support for me when going through rough times. Being braver behind my keyboard has allowed me to process my experiences and disseminate some pretty helpful information (if I do say so myself) in a way that I may not have felt free to do without social media. And it has given me the chance to "talk" out some of my thoughts about this current phenomenon :-)
So what do you think? Are people this generation more sensitive, or is that an artificial construct due to the changing ways we interact with each other? Or some other thing I'm missing? :-) I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!