50°F & Clear 7 day forecast Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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No offense, but you’re easily offended

Quirks are wonderfully entertaining. These routines that continue on, frequently along with an unaware individual, are hard to be rid of.

Personally, whether I ask what the weather is like outside (my god, we live in the tundra) or what the heck happened with Manti Te’o, I cannot help but start with “I have a weird question,” regardless of whether it is truly weird or not. Another phrase that has become well known and widely used is “no offense,” and you can bet your bottom dollar that if someone starts a sentence off with these two supposedly harmless words, there will be offense. It is as if by stating the intention not to hurt any feelings right off the bat, telling a friend that she smells like rotting meat will go over well.

Ironically enough, when talking about offending people, some people might just walk away feeling a bit offended. There are so many instances in which our society gets bent out of shape.

Celebrities are expected to not only deal with the paparazzi but to treat them kindly, as if they are friends, never creepily lurking with cameras, and couples eating at romantic restaurants are not seen as “ideal customers” if they raise their voices. There is a level of expectation that has been handed down to us over time, taught through both culture and everyday experience.

At what point does being offended become hypercritical or humorless? If you were told as a child not to put your elbows on the table, it might be a little over-the-top for a date to throw his or her plate of food at you, making a scene if you did so. As it is with everything, too much of anything is usually bad: that includes taking offense. As perfection-seeking-students (some of you are probably thinking “yeah, right”), or rather, as humans, we strive to do our best. But when criticized, given the silver or bronze metal, we usually and collectively think that some mistake has been made, or that someone has been bribed (I swear that is how tests always seem to work…).

Expectant of the highest standards, it seems as if we all assume the bad will prevail, therefore picking at tiny and hardly visible details, paranoid that they might just lead to bigger and badder things. Car horns used to be friendly gestures, and team names as well as a multitude of other things were not analyzed and changed for their supposed offensiveness. If it could possibly-maybe-kind-of be taken the wrong way, it must be wrong. Our minds are challenged to find the utmost offensive idea or implication not second, but first, before anyone else can catch it. No offense.
sschoch@lanthorn.com



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