Friday, January 15, 2010

'Feeling Offended' Phenomenon

Now it cuts like a knife
But is feel so right
--Bryan Adams

Statements about 'feeling offended' by someone or something seem more numerous over the past couple of yrs. My sense is that it's a symptom of darkening social mood.

What I find interesting about the phenomenon is that the individual (or group) that feels offended usually state the situation in a manner that makes it appear that the offending individual (or group) 'caused' the offense (e.g., "I am offended by your remarks.").

Subsequently, the offendee often demands an apology or some other form of restitution from the purported offender. The demand often calls for the offender to do this publicly.

An interesting situation if one thinks it thru.

First, being offended is a personal choice. Human beings are different from other animals in that they possess self-awareness which allows them to control their responds to stimuli--particularly social stimuli. We can choose to be part of herd-like tendencies of a crowd, for example. Or not. We can choose to let someone's harsh words offend us. Or not.

So a statement of "I'm offended by your remarks" could be reinterpreted as "I've chosen to let your remarks offend me."

The offendee's subsequent demands for a retraction is also curious. Why would a retraction be necessary if the offender's claims were untrue? Perhaps the offendee worried that others will accept the offender's claims as accurate. Or perhaps there is some truth in the offenders claims.

Either way, how does a retraction change alter the situation?

Juvenile, playground are words that come to mind.

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