Offence Junkies

You are a massive twat.

Did you just feel your gut tighten a little?  Perhaps some retorts that you could offer popped into your head; retorts such as “you don’t know me!”or “fuck you buddy, I’m writing a damning comment without reading the rest of your article”, or even “that’s probably not aimed at me, but at the more general Yack readership of which I am not a member”.  Either way, the few seconds you spent reacting to my opening statement were probably not pleasant.

This feeling – the feeling of being offended – happens to us all, no matter how cynical and jaded we think we are (and I consider myself to be extremely cynical and jaded).  It is impossible to completely suppress stimulus-driven emotional responses, whether it’s the gut-wrenching terror of watching some animal being abused; the moderate annoyance of listening to a Man United fan crying about only finishing 7th in the whole fucking country this season, or the gut-wrenching terror of the latest Nicolas Cage film being shat onto your face via your television set.  Offence will always be present subjectively – what matters, then, is how we deal with it.

One enormously popular way of reacting to offence is to publicly communicate your offence to others.  Now, before I trash this hideous behaviour pattern, let me make some concessions.  Firstly, reacting physically or verbally to being offended may once have had some evolutionary advantages.  It might therefore be ingrained in our biology to react in such ways, and I therefore do not blame people who presently act in this way.  Secondly, there is a subsection of offence that translates meaningful notions which we should worry about.  For example, the animal abuse video mentioned earlier might encourage you to help correct said injustice (see http://www.dailydot.com/crime/4chan-b-facebook-cat-throwing-abuse-video/ for examples).

Animal on Animal abuse. Fucking Animals.

Animal on animal abuse. Fucking animals.

So what am I trashing?  I am trashing what I like to call ‘offence-junkies’.  Those vile, reactionary characters who post about how unspeakably outraged they are at racist-woman-on-tram or cat-bin-lady that, judging by their use of language, one could be forgiven for thinking that they are gearing up to march on 10 Downing Street.  What follows seems to be a “who can make the most ignorant comment”competition in the comments section – usually the winner is some atrocious human with, “her children should be tortured and/or deported, that will show her!!!”.  To cap it off, and also to illustrate the transience and pointlessness of this unattractive, attention-seeking ritual, within five minutes the initial ‘awareness-raiser’has often moved on to another story (and is apparently equally outraged by it) or posted a video of a cat physically interacting with another cat, with all that offence instantly dissipated.  This happens not only on the internet – you will likely encounter verbal analogues of this kind of discourse down your local pub.  In these instances, is there any other conclusion one can draw, other than the obvious?  These people are exploiting something bad happening in the world for social gain, an act beaten in depravity only by the culprits directly involved in these happenings, and Hitler.

My advice is to represent the exact opposite end of the spectrum to these specimens, and to publicly criticise them where possible, in public and on the internet.  As mentioned earlier, we cannot blame people for acting in this way, but we damn well don’t have to comply with it.  By challenging people who constantly spout about how much they are crying because shit things or even meaningless things (e.g. the downward spiral of Nicolas Cage’s career) are happening, we can either get them to shut the fuck up, or better, coax them into actually doing something good (if their emotion is real, of course).  Over time, we may be able to reduce the prevalence of this ugly character trait.

Note:  I realise the utter hypocrisy of writing a meaningless article whining about people who meaninglessly whine.  My hope is that this article will produce a net reduction in whining, and will therefore be justified from a consequentialist perspective.  If you have an absolutist moral perspective, you can fuck off.

Words by Yack! Magazine

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