• Alison

“Offendeditis”... when everyone is offended by everything!

I actively try to avoid negative people, attitudes, places etc on a daily basis, and especially try to avoid those who like to tell me stories about their aunties, uncles, cousins who had what I have; they usually die at the end of these stories, so I really should tell more people to “feck off” when I hear these stories unravelling. But I don’t, because I’m nice, well relatively speaking. But in these cases, I can walk away smile, nod in appropriate places and let the negativity wash over me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some Zen being who never passes judgement and anyone who knows me will know how much I love a good rant, usually about important things like the ever-increasing price of takeaway coffee in Dublin. But aside from these such clearly troubling questions, these days it’s getting to the point that everyone is just offended or annoyed by everything and everyone!

I literally cannot keep up with the many ‘issues’ that seem to offend or divide and it seems to me like the global ‘offendedness’ barometer is about to explode. I actually read recently that it’s getting so bad in some universities, they are calling ‘silent tutorials’ the new normal, as students are so worried about offending anyone with their views and opinions they are saying nothing. We’ve got the scourge of virtual and sometimes anonymous offensiveness online (I’m looking at you in particular Twitter ). And meanwhile in real life, everyone is paralysed by PCness to even express opinions. What the hell is going on?

It’s a great time to be a woman they tell us; a global spotlight on harassment, pay inequality and gender issues, but is it really? It’s like a battle has commenced between the sexes and now I’m seeing women are even starting to be more unsupportive and downright critical of other women, bitchiness 2.0! We can’t even seem to agree what we are offended by more – too much male attention or not enough! I recently read an article about how amazing it is that women are getting ‘angry’. Why is this good? Yes, stand up for yourself, yes, demand equality and respect but this can all be done without getting ‘angry’ I think.

I feel like we are in a world where it’s now all about ‘me’ and not ‘us’, or even ‘you’ anymore. I’m beginning to to think that in an effort to reach equality for all we are losing a love for each other. I love Instagram, I could spend hours flicking through carefully-curated pics of other people’s lives, but I’ve been so confused lately by the amount of well-known Instagramers who are either deleting their pages or posting big long diatribes about negative comments they receive. Having read some of the things so-called ‘followers’ write, it can be shocking. What’s more shocking to me though is how incensed and offended people can get over someone making a few quid by promoting soft furnishings!

Is it jealousy that is igniting all this offendedness and nasty commentary? And, does the anonymity of social media give people permission to bring out their worst personality traits and spew them all over the Internet. I’m pretty sure most social media ‘trolls’, as they have become to be known, would never be so brave as to have a cut at someone ‘IRL’ aka in real life. But, somehow these keyboard cowards think it’s perfectly fine to tear down someone else online for really no reasons other than their own amusement.

Before I got sick I worked in the incredibly fast paced image and brand-led world of PR, where it was my job to be informed of political and cultural news, trends, people etc. As a result I’m generally known for having an ‘opinion’ on most things and I’m never afraid to share it. But this type of banter has progressed to a new level in the last few years to an epidemic of people annoyed by everything. It’s like everyone is on high alert to call out a personality flaw or tear down some parenting decision someone might make.There is a lot to be annoyed about to be fair; incompetent governments, pointless celebrities and don’t even get me started on Donald Trump. But surely all this critique and opinion shaming cannot be good for our collective mental health or sense of purpose?

Instead of tearing each other down, why can’t we build each other up? Why can’t we be happy because some gal has figured out if she shows her beautiful home online brands will reward her entrepreneurial skills and give her a free couch. High five to you my lady! Swap a bit of annoyance and the likes of parent shaming (apparently this IS a thing by the way) and stop judging a mum for leaving their precious offspring in a car chair for over the recommended two hours because she’s finally got them off to sleep despite the fact there’s a possible chance the child might ‘die’ in front of your eyes for exceeding the two hours! Instead we should be thinking: “have that extra flat white love, you deserve it” and remind yourself your mum actually carried you in her arms in the front seat of a car on a long journey to Kerry, and you survived!

I can’t help but think all this offendeness is turning the milk of human kindness ‘sour’, and although we all love jumping on whatever local or global cause looking for us to change our profile pictures and support, it’s easier to do this that spread a bit of kindness on a daily basis. Not that everyone needs to run around opening doors and hugging each other, but instead of getting annoyed by someone else's life choices, choose to be kind, have a caring and optimistic thought instead.

Before I got sick, I may have fallen in to the angry, opinionated, annoyed crowd, but now I’m definitely convinced it’s better on the head and the heart to think kind thoughts and spread it around as liberally as I can, and now I’m a big fan of the ‘if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all’ school of thought. People, can we just try to see the good before rushing to judge and post a ranty comment after someone posts a picture of dog sitting the front passenger seat of their car, without a seatbelt?

With ever increasing levels of anxiety and depression, I am really beginning to worry about what kind of society we are are all creating with this ever-increasing need to criticise, analyse and dole out unsupportive comments on everything from parenting, clothes, recycling, political views, anything really and I can’t help but worry what it’s actually doing to the overall mental health of the communities we live in.

Last night, while I was considering how I would wrap up my rant about rants, I turned on my phone and up popped two fantastic posts that I have to share as I hope they support my plan to stop everyone from getting annoyed at everything and think kindness first! One post was of an amazing sister who was charging her pals to watch her get her hair shaved in empathy (not sympathy by the way) with her 12-year-old sister who is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumour. She wants to raise money to buy her a laptop, go sisters! The second post was from a family I know who’s youngest son underwent a lung transplant last year due to chronic cystic fibrosis that he has battled with his whole life. The lung transplant seems to have given him, and his family a whole new lease of life and they all climbed a mountain in Kerry together to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his transplant. Again, NICE. Hurray for family and hurray for celebrating life!

So, please try and not be so annoyed by everything and not let this ‘annoyeditis’ spread. People, their lives, the world and even politicians are not that bad really! Except, maybe, for Donald Trump.

Rant over...and drink in that beautiful sun....

Alison xx

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