‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so fucking what?’ – Stephen Fry
We’ve all been there, somebody has said something that causes your stomach to twinge and your head to spin a little bit. But don’t let it fool you, they haven’t poisoned you with words, you’re merely offended, and that’s totally fine.
Unless it’s not fine, and you make it somebody else’s problem, most likely offending them in the process and causing a wake of offence in your anti-offending path. Does that sound like your kind of thing? Well thank god for social media, where you can overreact publically.
If you’re like me, you probably get most of your news through sites like Facebook, and if you’re also like me, you instantly lose faith in society after reading the comment sections. People straight up believe they have a right to be offended and if that is infringed, then someone needs to do something about it, and fast.
Probably the largest social media outcry in recent memory took place following the November 13 Paris attacks last year, in which 130 people lost their lives and a further 368 were injured.
Except people weren’t so much offended by the most fatal attack on French soil since World War II. People were offended because news sites were spending too much time covering Paris and not focusing on other atrocities around the world, such as the Beirut suicide bombings that took place the day before.
The main contention was that the media was focusing too heavily on one attack whilst disregarding the other, resulting in complaints that media organisations only focused on single issues… coming from people who were focusing on a single issue themselves instead of the tragedies.
I totally understand that people may be frustrated about the media not presenting everything they want, but here’s the kick, that’s probably more down to the media organisations you follow and the medium in which you get your news, rather than some conspiracy.
Undoubtedly social media was going to be presenting more articles about Paris, it was a shocking and tragic event that was on-going with active shooters across the city, whereas the Beirut suicide bombings, whilst equally horrifying, wrapped up relatively quickly as suicide bombings tend to do.
Of course news organisations were posting a lot about the Paris attacks on social media, but if you actually visited their websites you could find everything you wanted to read about the Beirut attacks. If they didn’t have that on their site, then find a better news source. There are so many out there and they don’t write just for you and what you’re interested in.
Facebook was showing more of the Paris attacks because the algorithm that dictates news feeds, assumed it was more relevant to users based on social media history. And not to compare tragedies, but the events in Paris were undeniably more newsworthy to a lot of people, considering the scale of the attacks and the status of the city as a tourist hotspot.
All of that aside, the comment sections on articles about Paris soon became a sniping match as many social media users took it as their right to let people know they should feel bad for only being shocked by Paris.
In a video the BBC posted showing a one minute silence across Europe for the Paris attacks, the top liked comments read:
“If we had a minutes silence for all victims of terrorism we would stand silent every day! #itsnotjustparis!”
“Why not silent for other countries?”
“White peoples falls silent for white peoples…”
Am I the only one who finds these insanely disrespectful? It’s not like having a moment of silence for one thing, means all other things aren’t also tragic. What we have here is a bunch of people choosing to be offended by what they perceive as disrespectful and then deciding to detract from, and disrespect, the actual story by posting their opinion for all to read.
Let’s look at another recent case involving 579,007 Britons vs. Donald Trump. As he tends to do, the straw-reality-diva-presidential candidate offended a bunch of people, resulting in a petition to ban him from the country. I totally understand that not everybody likes Donald Trump, and with good reason, but do you not think it’s overkill to have him banned from entering an entire nation?
Aside from the petition, it’s commonplace to read comments on articles about Trump calling upon news organisations to completely stop reporting on the man. Remember, this is someone who is just won the New Hampshire Primary and could very well be President. Of course the media will be reporting on what he says.
We shouldn’t just blindly ban stuff because it offends us, I understand with Trump it comes from a good place, the guy has spewed some hate speech, but does that mean we should start a culture of censorship?
As I said before, it’s okay to feel offended, it’s part of life, fighting that feeling to the bitter end is not.
If Trump came to your house and forced you to have the exact same hair as him against your will, you’d be well within your rights to have at him, but to act just because he said a bunch of stuff, who cares? Don’t listen to him and don’t read articles about him, it’s that easy. You don’t own the media.
To wrap things up it’s probably best to say that I apologise if I offended anyone in this article, but to paraphrase Stephen Fry, so fucking what if I did?
*Follow Charlie Braithwaite on Twitter.