There's a lot going on that I normally would have made comments on my Facebook account as it came across the news or in life, but since I've deleted my account (and I'm not missing it at all), I talk a lot with my wife on these things, but haven't sat down at the keyboard to put these feelings to the vast ether of the Internet. This is such a nebulous topic to try to wrap your head around, because it encompasses so much with everything going on today, so I thought I'd tackle it from a different angle, and I think some of you will be able to relate, while others will see this as more of a history lesson *Well back in MY day...* *groan - Grandpa is off his meds again...*
So in today's society (2021) you cannot turn on the TV, go online, or even be out in public without encountering a story or a person in real life that feels emboldened to tell you that what YOU did offended THEM, and that YOU need to stop. Whenever I see stupid human actions like this, I try to take the time to think how this could have started. I think that I got dealt a lucky hand in life when it comes to being able to observe humans in the wild, especially here in America, because I was living overseas for 16 of 20 years during my Air Force career (that will be another topic "fer shure" (as the Coloradians love to say for some reason)), and when I came back to the states, I saw changes that smacked me in the face that most Americans won't notice because they've lived through the middle of these changes, and they were very gradual, almost unnoticeable to them over the years.
Growing up, I remember when the Shock Jock Howard Stern was on WWDC out of Washington DC. I was primarily in middle school during those years, going into high school, and all our friends were talking about the things he was saying and doing on the radio. He was funny to us. But there were some kids that didn't know what we were talking about, and that's because their parents didn't approve of his style of humor and wouldn't let their kids listen to him. BUT, because the power of social networking in the 80's (school), most kids learned anything they weren't exposed to at home through the other kids, or a corrupt, older cousin. We didn't have the power of the internet to look up cheat codes - we had to figure them out or they were passed down like ancient lore through the generations. We didn't have self-proclaimed critics on the Internet telling us how they hated George Lucas' visions of Empire Strikes Back - we had Sci-Fi magazines and meetings during homeroom or lunch to talk about it ourselves. We didn't have PornHub or OnlyFans - we had polaroid pictures.
Are you offended by that last comment? Are you going to stop reading this out of fear that this may not be for you, or are you going to try to have this banned from the Internet? If you are in the first group, then I wish you well, and live your best life. If you are in the second group, then this "Thoughts on..." is definitely about you. If you weren't offended, look me up if you are ever in Colorado and let's have a beer, because you are probably the type of person I'd like to have a beer with... but I digress...
So as I said, there were parents that, believe it or not, were actually engaged in what their kids were exposed to, and would either allow or restrict it. I wasn't allowed to watch R rated movies until HBO was kind of a standard in most homes and only AFTER my parents saw the movie and deemed it ok for me only because it had a few cuss words. Other parents didn't care what their kids watched, but that was their choice and how their family would live. And for a while, that seemed to work. But then, when I got to high school, I heard of some crusade to have Howard Stern removed from radio by a small group of mothers who didn't approve of him. I wasn't even 16 yet, but I could remember thinking to myself, "Why don't these people just, I don't know, NOT tune in, NOT watch him? I'm not a fan of Westerns, but I don't write the TV stations to petition them to stop showing them." Now here is where today's Social Justice Warriors - the evolution from the very group I'm talking about wanting to have Howard Stern removed, would say "ThErE's A bIg DiFfErEnCe BeTwEeN a WeStErN aNd A dOuChE", and yes, you'd be right (if you are in that second category I mentioned earlier and still with me). But that's YOUR opinion - there are families out there that may think Westerns had too much violence for their kids, and wouldn't allow them to watch them. And while John Wayne may have a wholesome message at the end of the day, him being in bars and fighting could be the equivalent of horrendous over the air sex acts performed by a guy only doing it to get ratings.
But back to the group trying to get him banned (and as history has shown, was successful - yes, there's WAY more to the story and he brought some of it on himself by pushing the envelope, but the action still happened...) This is what I mean by thinking back to when I first saw a type of action that is observed in society - this is as far back as I can remember where people tried to sway public opinion to have something removed for EVERYONE, instead of just living their own life, staying in their own lane, and just not tuning in. That is what I have a problem with. Just because a person says something, does something, or acts differently from how I would, doesn't mean that I have the absolute right to have them removed simply because "it offends me". The hard rule I live by is this: Does it directly impact my life, does it threaten the safety of me, my family or my friends? If not, then who cares what someone else does. I'm sure this mentality has happened long before my example (Rock & Roll music first coming on the scene, the free-love era of the 60's... I'm just providing an example that was impactful to my time frame that still shows the example I'm getting at.)
A lot of how I've been viewing the world around me lately has shown me that there is a balance in everything, and our actions are no different. Based upon my writing, you'd think I'm of the camp where people can do whatever they want and if you don't like it, you need to sit down and shut up. Not necessarily - like I said, yes, stay in your own lane, try to adopt a "live and let live" attitude towards things and worry about yourself and your own family/friends, and do what's best for you, but yes, if others are being hurt and unable to live life freely then of course you would interject - through legal action, law enforcement, etc. But the flip side of that is, others shouldn't take their "freedom" and be in the face of those that don't agree with them, simply because it's their right. It truly is a fine balancing act and both parties need to be respectful towards each other. An easy example of this would be on public transportation - you like listening to that shitty rap music that's out today (yes, it sucks and rap should get back to how it was in the 70's & 80's, but that's just MY opinion and if you like it, then you do you (see how easy that is?)) Then wear earbuds instead of playing it loudly from your phone - because you know damn well that others won't like what you do. You still get to enjoy what you like, and others get to enjoy not being exposed to it if they don't like it. On a side note - I actually dig the beats, remixes, and samples in a lot of today's rap, just the actual talent of the artists are a dime a dozen and not unique anymore, but again, I digress...
It all comes down to respect - respect for yourself first and then for others. Some of you may be thinking that it's bending to the wills of others and not being able to do what you want, and you are only viewing it from one perspective. If the people who would be "offended" by your actions took on the same stance, and just looked at it as "that's their thing and I don't like it, but it's not impeding me ability to live my life", then there would be no confrontations in your local Walmart because today's "Karen's" or "Kyle's" wouldn't feel the need to tell someone they are wrong, simply because they don't agree with them. To sum this up, I've included a few examples of things I see today that could be handled differently (again, in my opinion). You may or may not agree with me, but guess what? You'll still be able to go out and hit a pub, go shopping, relax to a movie, eat lunch, eat dinner, clean your house, play video games, go to sleep and wake up tomorrow completely unaffected with my personal beliefs. And if you disagree with me and feel the need to tell me I'm wrong, that doesn't affect me whatsoever, because while I probably won't agree with your method of telling me how I'm wrong (unless you engage in civil discussion), I recognize it as YOUR opinion, and I wouldn't be offended by it, because my life will still go on as well.
How Not To Be Offended (a small sample of today's observed "triggers")
Social Action Emotional Response Recommended Response
Someone wearing offensive Telling that person what you Simply shutting the fuck
clothing think loudly in public up and continue on your
Someone walking with their Yelling "pull your pants up Report it to management
pants below their ass or physically doing it for them or local authorities for
public indecency, or
Hearing a comedian say Going on Facebook to create Block their page so it isn't
something that offends you a petition to have them on your newsfeed or get
cancelled up and walk out without
making a scene
Someone doesn't follow the Tell them the error of their Try to respect them for
same religion you do ways and try to convert them who they are as another
or publicly ostracize them human being or simply do
not associate with them on
a social level
Someone posts something Snapshotting it and sending Block their account on
you don't like it to their job in the hopes your feed so you don't see
you get them fired and ruin their offensive content.
them financially because If you were to have no
that is what they deserve source of income and
struggled to survive, you'd
want help - why would you
intentionally do that to
You see a person only Screaming at them in public Stop and think back to
wearing one mask when you and taking video to post on how you used to say "My
have 3 on social media to virtue signal mask not only protects me
how good of a citizen you are but protects you" and take
note that they are at least
wearing one, and even
though they aren't up to
your standard of being a
decent human, you are at
least doing what is right
and can sleep at night