I recently heard someone say that they were "opening a can of whoop-ass" when they meant to say they were "opening a can of worms." The best part was that they didn't even know they said it wrong. I am opening a can of worms here. Not whoop-ass. Probably a boring can or worms, but I find it interesting.
There is a great talk from the October 2006 LDS Conference by David Bednar that encourages us not to take offense or not to let ourselves be offended to the point that we hold grudges and allow it to hold us back in life. Unfortunately, I have heard people use this the other way around.
"I don't need to watch what I say. She just chose to be offended by what I said."
I don't think this was the point of the message. Elder Bednar wasn't giving us permission to say whatever we want and then blame it on the other person for "letting themselves be offended."
The reason I bring this up tonight is a recent Facebook discussion. (Oh, the drama that can arise from the lovely land of public forum discussions...) It seems everyone in the discussion disagrees with me, which actually surprised me and made me a little sad for the future of mankind (okay, not that last part). So I'm bringing the discussion here to see what you all think.
I'm 100% positive the comment that spurred the conversation was not intended to offend. The intent behind it was sincere but was just written in a way that could be misinterpreted. It just served as a lead in to a bigger discussion. Also, the person who made the initial comment was not part of the ensuing conversation. The comment in question was that of a thin person wondering why so many people gain weight after high school. My gut reaction (my own misinterpretation) was that many of the people reading this person's Facebook post were probably old high school friends--many of whom had gained weight and probably inspired the comment in the first place. Even if those specific friends didn't inspire the comment, they will probably think it was about them once they read it.
The discussion itself occurred on someone else's page and covered the more general topic of being sensitive to what we say out of respect to those whom it might make uncomfortable. I tend to worry a lot about people's feelings. I try not to post anything that will make people feel bad about themselves. If it will probably hurt someone's feelings and doesn't need to be said, then it probably doesn't need to be put up in a public forum.
Turns out no one agreed with me. The overwhelming opinion (of the few people in the discussion) was that if we point out obvious stuff, it's not our fault if the other people "allow themselves to be offended." If the information is accurate, it's okay to say it. No questions asked.
I believe the choice not to be offended is ours to make, but it shouldn't be a free pass to dismiss other people's feelings. Perhaps the least we can do is be more careful about the way we say things if we really think they need to be said.
Am I alone on this? Does it make anyone else uncomfortable to think that we don't need to take other people's feelings or sensitivities or struggles into account when we talk?
I'll bet some of you don't agree with me. And that's fine. You probably have thick skin and expect that everyone else does, too. Or you're just a meanie. :)
By the way, if the people in the Facebook discussion are serious about what they said, then I don't need to worry about offending them with this post--since they are of the opinion that it's their own fault if they let themselves be offended...Right?
3 years ago