Has everybody seen this photo? It's sparked a bit of a debate on one of the forums I frequent. This photo, along with another conversation that's been happening on a different thread of the same forum, has gotten me to thinking about how sensitive we've all become.
But first, the photo. I'm okay with it. I'm really okay with it. Here's my response:
Personally, I thought the response in that photo was hilarious. I've read so many awful submissions from students over the years that I can completely understand where that professor was coming from - whether or not it was real. By the time these kids get to college (and I'm just assuming from the context that this kid was in college) there's absolutely no excuse for not being able to write a research paper at least semi-coherently. Not to mention that this was an end-of-the-semester thing so he or she would have had plenty of time to approach the prof for help if necessary.
The second conversation was born of one person making the comment that they'd be okay spending $(large-ish sum) to make a move in a series we all enjoy in order to get 'ship confirmation for a couple we're all shipping (it's a 'ship thread). There was a response that basically boiled down to, "that's probably a waste of money most people don't have". A true enough statement if I've ever heard one. I think the trouble was this line:
What's the saying again? Fools and their money are easily parted or something?
Someone took offense to this because he/she felt like the quoted person above was being offensive.
Since when is using an old turn of phrase offensive? Since when do we live in a world when an opinion contrary to our own is offensive?
Am I the only one who doesn't think this is okay?
I said it before, but I'm saying it again for emphasis: I think we live in a world that has gone lily-white in an effort not to offend people. Sanitation of our opinions is self-censorship of our ideas. We're not okay when other people censor things we've said. Why are we lying down as we do it to ourselves in an effort to keep from offending people who are, quite honestly, likely going to be offended anyway.
The internet has made the big world a very small place. We can now band together with groups of people who like the one very tiny corner of whatever universe we like. That's awesome. It also means a false sense of camaraderie is established. There's this idea that we all like the same thing so we must think alike. It's just not true. I've found just as wide a variety of personalities in my own little corners of the universe as I have when I've had to barge smack dab into the center of parts of the universe that don't make much difference to me.
But somehow, because of this belief that other people who like the things we like must think the way we think, we've also become so easily offended that, for the most part, people walk around with their white flags already out and waving. We couch things we say with "IMHO". (I swear, I'm going to puke if I see that one more time...everything you write down -- unless it's a fact from a cite-able source -- is your opinion. I don't need to know if you offer it humbly or honestly. I don't care. It's your opinion, I get it, lets move on - you're wasting valuable real estate on my screen.)
I'm starting to be offended that people are sanitizing their speech in order to not offend me. I want to know what you think, whoever it is I'm talking to. I want you to treat me like I'm a friend (especially if we spend any amount of time trading words online). If you're worried you've offended me (because of my reaction to what you've said) then let's address that. But don't automatically assume you've offended me (or even that you have the power to offend me). I'm a big girl. I've got this.
Here's the lesson: If I, a stranger you've met in cyber-space, am so important that my mere opinions cast out onto the web can offend you, then I am severely underpaid.