I came across this meme on Facebook and it immediately made me cringe, so I thought I’d explain why it’s so damn stupid.
- Literally no one is offended all the time. In the last 2 months I’ve had two friends on Facebook accuse me of being angry all the time. Big Pharma needs to invent a pill that can cure confirmation bias. I don’t expect people to pay attention to my FB status all the time (few people probably have the time for that), but if you’re going to make statements about how I’m angry all the time, then try to ensure that you’re correct. If anyone takes a look at my Facebook page, in any given day, I do post a lot of stuff that I find frustrating or anger-inducing. I do get outraged on a regular basis. But posts about the injustices of the world are not the only things I put up. I also include cute memes, nifty works of art from artistic sites, funny cartoons, comic book related material, and more. So no, I’m literally NOT angry all the time. Now, if the argument were “you frequently express anger and outrage on your FB page”, I’d cop to that-because it’s an accurate reflection of how I feel.
Similarly, this meme treats people who get offended about things on the internet as if they’re always offended. That’s just not true.
- Even if it were true that I or anyone else is ‘offended all the time’, we have just as much right to use the internet as anyone else, and should not have to change out habits because other people are assholes. In this day and age, the internet has become essential for many people, whether for social or professional reasons. If someone gets offended all the time, is it really reasonable to suggest they get off the internet when it has become so important for so many people for so many reasons?
Further to the above point, if it were true that I or anyone else is ‘offended all the time’, ‘get off the internet’ assumes that one wouldn’t get offended in meatspace. I hate to break it to the people who like this meme, but there are plenty of things that cause people to get offended offline. In fact, all the reasons people get offended online exist offline too. Getting off the internet will not shield anyone from sources of offense.
Why are the people being offended the ones who should alter their behavior? Why not suggest that the people who are doing the offending moderate their behavior? A more reasonable meme would say “If you’re saying things that offend people or causing them to get outraged, take some time to understand why, and then moderate your behavior to avoid doing so in the future.”
- People respond to being offended differently. This meme presents one “solution” that might work for some people, but not others. Some people respond to offense by indeed avoiding it where they can. Others choose to respond to the source of offense. Others choose to ignore the source of offense. Still others choose some combination of those options. ‘Get off the internet if you’re offended all the time’ attempts to be a one-size-fits-all piece of advice that simply won’t work for everyone.