It’s hard to say anything these days without offending a lot of people and being lynched. I suppose that’s probably been a problem for a really long time. The puritans killed witches for strangeness, the Nazis killed Jewish people for being Jewish, the KKK killed black people because they were black, and, frankly, the earth has been killing humans since the beginning of time with old age, grumpy grandparents, and an unfortunate series of earthquakes, rainstorms, and volcanic eruptions just because it can.
So is it really that weird that words are so offensive now? No. Not really. I mean, back in the puritan times you could probably get away with some questionable stuff, what with the carrier pigeons lugging gossip on their wings and the mail horses galloping around to deliver the yearly post, but I am quite sure that there were people who would have found out eventually. The only reason it seems any different now is because of… you guessed it. The internet. Really, that’s why a lot of stuff happens. We can talk to our best pals three thousand miles away at the click of a button, and more than that, we can see farther into the reaches of space than puritans could have ever thought. But because of our instantaneous feel of life, everything becomes instantaneous. This includes making judgements of people.
It’s not that much different that puritan times, because you could walk into town and people would either like you or not. That’s pretty much the same. The difference is that now you don’t even have to walk into town to be judged. It’s not only instantaneous, but this judgement is passed over anywhere from ten doors to the other half of the world. Is it fair that someone on the other side of the globe can judge you with the same harshness as some kid on his bike who lives down the street? I don’t know. Why should they care?
I don’t understand. I find myself doing that a lot, too. I realize half-way through a post something to the effect of, “I really don’t agree with this, therefore I hate them”. Since that realization I can stop myself and think, but I’m very certain I’m not the only one who has ever faced this issue. In fact, the probability that someone is doing that to me right now is more than I should probably like to believe.
Of course, with this instantaneous sense of judgement, we forget about an individual’s character. We forget that they have lived their whole lives. Without a doubt, we forget that the person we disagree with right now would likely feel the same way about our opinions. That barrier of beliefs is already built before we even have the chance to meet the poor soul. Of course, this leads to a harsher dislike towards people we don’t agree with because we would never allow even a slightest bit of their decency to be detected by our tunnel vision. Of course we are going to be offended. We’re offended because we forget that everybody’s human. Not just me. Not just you. Everybody. And we forget that they each live lives similar but opposite ours. As a nation, as a continent, as a world, it’s going to tear us apart.
How do we fix it then? I don’t know. Maybe turn off that seventeenth social media app, or give in on a pointless argument with a random stranger you know nothing about. Maybe try to remember that, though we each have our own opinions, that doesn’t make any one right or wrong. Live by your opinions, but don’t stomp out everybody else’s. Maybe then we could use the instantaneity of the internet for our benefit instead of the constant and unrelenting dread that it is now. We could connect with each other and learn to accept one another despite our differences. Maybe someday we could collectively just be happy.