8 Reasons Everybody
is So “Oversensitive”
By Tim Henares
It isn’t uncommon to see an article that begins with the words “Netizens are outraged by…” anymore. Whether it be something as horrific as the disappearance of the cats of BGC, or something as mundane as the killing of Kian delos Santos, it seems that everyone is always offended by something nowadays. And if you think I have the horrificness and the mundaneness of those two things backwards, try asking yourself which issue you’re more familiar with at present. ‘Kian who?’ Yeah, that’s what we thought.
Whatever happened to the good ol’ days when we could just make casually homophobic jokes, casually racist jokes, casually misogynistic jokes, and get away with them? Why do we have to worry about telling raunchy jokes in the presence of our women co-workers when just a decade or two ago, we could slap our secretary on the butt for a job well done, and all she’d say is, “kayo ha, sir!”
That might be because those good ol’ days were only ever good for the people who weren’t on the receiving end of these daily transgressions, forced to put up with them quietly because they didn’t have a platform or a support group that would empower them to call this shit out. So here are the 8 reasons why people seem to get offended by everything now.
These things were always offensive
Did you think organizations like GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League came out only in 2015 or something? How about movements like Civil Rights and Women’s Lib? Heck, no. These issues that we trivialize have always been a big deal to some sectors of society, and these things we trivialize end up having a profound effect on these sectors over time, while the rest of us are completely oblivious to what they’re going through.
The only reason we didn’t think any of this stuff was offensive was because, more often than not, it wasn’t us who was on the receiving end of the offense. And if we were, a good bunch of us have been resigned to never having our issues addressed, so we just shrug it off as an inevitable part of daily life for the woman/black/PWD/person on the autism spectrum/LGBT/whatever person. Meanwhile, our oppressor doesn’t even think any of this behavior is oppressive, because why would they? To them, it’s just a joke, it’s not a big deal. To us, it’s every freaking day of our lives.
Now, these offended people can no longer be silenced
Social media is the great equalizer. Back then, if, say, people were outraged by a prenup photoshoot featuring a fair-skinned couple flanked by Ethiopians being turned into human props, the few people who realize this is at least problematic, if not outright wrong and dehumanizing, can only talk about it amongst their inner circles, and most likely only amongst like-minded people, at that.
This time, though? That stuff won’t just fly. Yeah, people can freely debate the merits or lack thereof of such behavior, but in the end, people need to understand that these people who are offended or feel that wrong has been done always existed. And just like the minorities and marginalized people we don’t think about when we make jokes at their expense, their existence discomforts us, because we don’t like being told we’re bad people for being so “insensitive.”
Because they’re done playing nice
People always insist that if we’re going to call out people for being insensitive and horrible, we should be “nice” about it, which is tone policing 101. Let’s face it: denying gay people the right to marry legally (obviously, not in church) is denying them the same rights that every other person enjoys: the right to mutually commit ourselves to each other as two consenting adults for a lifetime, and all because we don’t have matching genitals.
You know why they’re not so nice about it anymore? Because they’ve been nice about it for centuries. And it got them nowhere. If we were “nice” to our Spanish conquerors instead of engaging them in bloody revolution, do you really think we’d have declared independence from them in 1898? Heck, no. We’d probably still be a colony of Spain to this very day, all because we were being “nice” about it.
Whenever we insist people are taking their outrage “too far,” let’s remember that some of these things they’re outraged by happen to be murder, rape, or rampant corruption in the government. When that stuff reaches a critical mass, you know what used to happen before Twitter (and during Twitter, if the Arab Spring were any indication)? Freaking revolutions. And not kumbaya-hand-holding ones like EDSA I. The type that get people killed. Riots. Looting. And yes, maybe even beheading the former oppressors. Just ask Marie Antoinette.
We should all be so lucky to just get a Twitter callout for following in the footsteps of these people.
Because people do go overboard sometimes – but it doesn’t invalidate them when they’re right
Of course, not everything is cultural appropriation. Of course, expecting Bagani to live up to the lofty ideals of Black Panther is ridiculous (have you even seen Bagani? Sherlock Jr. suddenly seems much more tolerable, and you know we’re not even fans of that.). Sometimes, people do get too worked up over things that they’re passionate about. Sometimes, other people are just ambulance chasers, and they want to feel better about themselves by condemning something, because that sanctimony gives them an emotional high.
But you know what? That doesn’t make what they’re fighting for any less right, if it’s right. An overzealous LGBT advocate may be grating on one’s ears, and might even call out their own allies who still make Piolo and Sam jokes from time to time, but just because that seems to be overdoing it doesn’t mean that making Piolo and Sam jokes isn’t indicative of casual homophobia.
Because nobody should be left behind
Minorities and marginalized people are often invisible to us – that’s why some of them were in the background of a fair-skinned model on a men’s magazine. The thing is, this offense is what brings them to the fore and makes us aware that hey, these people are people, too. They not only exist, but have every same right as we do to share the space we inhabit – and if they can’t, because they don’t feel welcome, that should be on us.
Because that’s how progress is achieved
Progress never stops. That’s why it’s called progress.
And if the opposite of “pro” is “con,” then the opposite of progress is… wow. That sure makes a lot of sense in the only country that still doesn’t have divorce in the entire world.
There was a time when we had to fight for the rights of women to vote. Then, we had to fight for black people. Then gay people. And now, we try to equalize all of that even more, to take away the tools that were used in the past to hurt these people – specifically, slurs and words and actions.
That isn’t being “oversensitive” so much as it is the natural progression of things. It’s supposed to get better, and if it’s not, the open marketplace of ideas will often correct its course on its own, because let’s face it: everyone is offended by something. While your homophobic buddy couldn’t care less about gay jokes, he just might raise a stink if you make a joke about people with autism, since his brother happens to be one. And it’s in that moment of empathy when people realize that yeah, triggers for people are different, and we should at least respect that.
Because they just want to make someone else’s day a little brighter
You will notice that not everyone outraged is always directly the subject of the outrage, such that when someone drops a racist slur about black people, not a few of the people calling out such chicanery are even black, to begin with. Why is that? Are they so oversensitive, they ran out of stuff to be offended about that concerns them?
Well, two things. First, it’s called “empathy.” You don’t need to be black to feel bad for them when they get shot just because cops are more scared around black people. Secondly, they know that by calling out these daily injustices, they are making things just a little better for the marginalized, and are making an immediate difference in these people’s lives, no matter how small.
That’s not such a bad thing to want, is it? To make other people’s days a little better by not calling them the n-word, or the r-word, or the m-word, or whatever other offensive word there is. It’s not a big deal to us, but it’s a big deal to them. And let’s face it: if getting to say these horrible words is not a big deal to us, then maybe we have issues.
Because we, the offenders, are really the ones who are oversensitive
For decades, gay people have mostly allowed themselves to be called names, and considered sub-human stereotypes. When Manny Pacquiao outright said that gay people were “mas masahol pa sa hayop,” the backlash was so immediate, Manny had to backpedal and tell everyone that oh-so-classic comment that he had a bunch of LGBT friends. You know, his friends na “mas masahol pa sa hayop?”
So what happened? Suddenly, people are defending Manny, saying we should consider his feelings, being an 8-division boxing champ and all. His feelings? You mean like he considered the feelings of every single LGBT person he called “mas masahol pa sa hayop?”
The real reason we are whining about people being “oversensitive” all of a sudden is that in reality, we are the oversensitive ones: we don’t like being reminded that some of the crap that we do is just that: crap. We want to pretend it’s all okay, and not be discomforted by the realization that we’re not the only people in the world, and our freedom to say whatever crap we want does not mean people will withold their freedom to say whatever crap they want if they don’t happen to like what we have to say. We now live in a world where equality is coming in a way we never thought possible: equality by us giving up some things, instead of everyone else just gaining something everyone else already had, and that sometimes includes something like “making rape jokes.”
What was it about that old saying that when we point one finger at someone else, three other fingers are pointing right back at us? Yeah, that’s pretty much us and our inane demand that people stop being offended all the time – because it offends us. Because really, at the end of the day, our days of being jerks to other people without any consequences are numbered – and some of us are not comfortable with relinquishing the privilege of being jerks.
That’s the hill people who say “I hate it when everyone is so oversensitive” choose to die on: the privilege of being a jerk. Between that and “I think it’s nice if we can make things just a little better for people who aren’t like us,” it should be easy to see what the more worthwhile pursuit is.
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