Thursday, 29 May 2014


Do I have your full attention? Good.

You know, I don't actually enjoy navel-gazing, I don't take myself that seriously, but it's happened again. It probably wasn't you. It might have been you, or maybe not. No I think it was you, over there.

I write assuming that somebody other than me reads it. That applies no matter where I write it (except my shopping list, I guess). And I hope whoever reads it enjoys it. If you don't enjoy my stuff, there's no pressure. I'm not offended.

I'm NOT OFFENDED. I'm really hard to offend, and this is the point.

In a world where people are regularly offended by the least little thing, I am a rarity, apparently. You can say just about anything to me and my hackles won't rise. You can hint, cast aspersions, ridicule, nitpick, and accuse. I'll give as good as I get, but 99.99999999999999999% of the time I won't be offended. I won't be hurt. I won't hold it against you.

I may be sometimes annoyed. That's not the same thing. I'll get over it.

But chances are, I won't be emotionally affected AT ALL. I'll just correct you, and carry on.

For example, in a post on a friend's FB page this week somebody referred to people with Asperger's as "crazy". As I have a son with Asperger's, who is, as a matter of fact, one of the sanest people you will ever meet, and far, far saner than most "normies" I run into, I had to correct that. I explained that people with Asperger's, for the most part, at least, are not crazy. Eccentric, certainly. But not mentally ill. It is not a mental illness. In some unfortunate individuals it may exist right along with one or more mental illnesses (depression and anxiety are common) and in a few cases it could be a serious psychopathy, but Asperger's itself does not mean "crazy". That's not correct. So let's get it right.

I'm not offended, and neither is Tom, He's heard it all before anyway, and he smiles because he knows he can outsane any critics he gets. Does he occasionally, still, as an adult, have a meltdown? Yes. And who doesn't? HMM? That tosspot with the road rage, or the boss who turned purple and slapped the desk, or the hockey player...yes, adults sometimes do lose it. That isn't crazy, that's human. So, meh.

So we explain it, and carry on.

But some people have hot buttons. It may be a political thing. It may be to do with something personal. It may be something nobody knows about, it may be from childhood trauma, the list of possibilities is simply endless. And instead of acknowledging that it's an issue they have, they get offended.

I had a friend growing up who was unfortunately wise beyond her years in some ways. I say unfortunately, because the reason for it was a tragic homelife. It was like having a much older friend. I was bright for my age, but rather naive, because I'd never known anything but kindness and happiness at home. I'm not suggesting this is a disadvantage you understand, it's what all kids should have, but it does mean you have a lot to learn.

So one day, my friend had a falling out with another friend, and I tried to play peacemaker. I suggested to my wise friend that she had offended the other girl, and she said "Well, that's HER problem, isn't it."

I was shocked, I was horrified. I had been raised not to cause offence. I still did, obviously, because kids are gauche, they don't mean harm, but it's a learning curve. So I knew that what you did was apologize, and try to remember not to do it again. I didn't understand this attitude of complete dismissal of guilt.

It was years, seriously, before I got it. Isn't it funny how some lessons are like that. Profound enough to be remembered, even if not fully understood at the time. Over time I realised that no matter what I did or said with some people, on some occasions, somebody would get offended. And I came to realise it was a choice on their part. It really was their problem. And quite a big problem.

Now, I am naturally not very sensitive, but once I realised that being offended was a choice, I chose not to be. Because I didn't want it to be my problem. By turning it around, by not being offended, it's somebody else's problem. I would simply consider the source when somebody's words were putrid. And I even had a solution for the tiny minority of people who were so deliberately offensive that even my attitude couldn't work. I didn't have anything more to do with them. END OF PROBLEM.

For the rest of my communication with people, I am not generally deliberately offensive (exceptions are made in high ethical situations, if you are a racist I'll call you an arsehole, for example, fair's fair), and I generally don't take offence. There's a lot of balance involved, and not taking offence doesn't mean you don't retort. You just correct and carry on, no harm done.

And I think I get it right, most of the time. My sense of humour often gets me into trouble, but that's (all together now) not my problem. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but there has to be some fun.

But OH waily waily waily, if people aren't STILL worried about offending me. Convinced they will, or convinced they have, or just not seeing that I'm being funny.

I know I write a lot of serious stuff. Stuff that matters to me. I think it's fairly obvious what that is? Which is the serious and which isn't? Some stuff is serious, and some stuff SHOULD be taken seriously.

But I don't take myself seriously. And I don't know how to get across that I don't expect anyone else to.

Should I pepper everything with even more smileys?

Should I use a disclaimer - WARNING: The following comments should not be taken seriously. I'm having a laugh, why don't you join in.

Should I give up caring?

Should I say, "yes I'm horribly, deeply offended, now I will have to kill you," and watch people squirm?

I already list my religion as Monty Python, I mean doesn't that give you a CLUE?

And you know what? If I say "Hey, there's no need to take me so seriously" you know what happens? They say "Oh I'm sorry...................."


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