“Can someone please explain to my why these days everything is so offensive??? No one knows how to take a joke anymore. Jeez.”
I have seen a many versions of the above sentiment over the last few years. I don’t even know when it started? When the newest generation got internet access? Before? During my time as a teen? Maybe every generation has a similar sentiment for the younger generation.
Lately, I have not seen any of those that are passive aggressively called on in these statements chime in. I do not blame the newer generation for not stooping to the level of social media defender for educating the older generation for why certain things can/are/could/would be offensive or triggering.
When statements start off with in the ‘someone please explain why’ in most cases that I’ve seen that they aren’t actually looking to have a conversation about it, OR if the speaker themselves would be open to the conversation, there are super extremist keyboard warriors on either side of the argument waiting in anticipation to strike down the opposition. Unfortunately it seems to be the older/est generation that is clinging dearly to the ‘way it was’. They’ve retired, and frankly, have nothing better to do than troll Facebook and other social media to write about how it was when America was Great on their grandkids, nieces, and nephews’ social media posts.
Is it so hard these to have a civil non-condescending conversation with someone in the younger generation? NO.
The other day I took my kids to the park after school. There were a good amount of kids and a few young teens around hanging out before their rides arrived to collect them. I have a toddler and a kindergartener, keeping them together at a large playground is impossible for more than about 45 seconds. Bear (kindergartener) was trying to do a wobbly balance beam and wanted me to help her. I am trying to nudge her into being a bit braver/less dependent on me as she is a DID (see Of Superheroes and Princesses). Just as she was starting to place a shaky foot onto the beam, Roo (the toddler) climbed onto the play structure and sprinted off to the other side of it. Well. I don’t know what the right thing to do in this is. I have a kindergartener that feels she needs me (only me, if Husband were to take her she would play fine for hours without wanting to demonstrate any skills and be happy playing with the kids present), and a toddler determined to explore the world as fully as she can. I had to go off after Roo. She’s too young to come when I call her. If I lose sight of the toddler real panic would ensue. One of the teens saw what happened and she immediately jumped up and helped/showed Bear across the beam while I ran off to make sure that Roo didn’t get out of sight. After that the teen was nearby as we played.
Eventually the teen and I started talking tentatively… I honestly hate talking to new people. But I was thankful for her help and the kids liked her well enough so I talked a bit. I also remember being her age and preferring to talk to adults rather than my peers. We got to talking about where we grew up. I told her that I was a military brat and grew up in a few different places. Instantly she bristled at the term ‘brat’ and asked me about it. She asked me quite plainly if I felt offended when someone called me a military brat. I started to tell her that it was just a turn of phrase, nothing offensive was meant by it; and then I faltered. I put myself into her shoes. I looked back to the first time I heard the phrase when it had be directed at me. Then I knew what she meant. It is offensive. It was offensive. It may not be something that people inherently say to mean offense, but it is so casually offensive that you almost don’t see it. No, it wasn’t meant as a bratty child. Brat wasn’t an adjective. Brat was a noun. A brat is a child that doesn’t deserve the acknowledgement of being a real person. Just the unfortunate consequence of a night of too much drinking or some such. That’s not me.
She was right. I let the teen know that I agreed with her. It was offensive after giving it a real thought. I had just been accepting of the fact that it was a ‘normal’ term. Now I feel ridiculous for calling myself a military brat for years and years.
For generations, children have been taught to think for themselves. When that happens, they are ridiculed for having a view that is different than what came before them. It is the responsibility to learn from each other. The older generations have the responsibility to imparting the knowledge they have to show why certain things are done and why they are done. The newer generation has the responsibility for showing how current events and new ways of thinking can improve or add to previous ways of thinking. Certain matters need to have the old school of thought maintained a little more strictly. While most societal matters the newer thought needs to be adhered to. It is balance. We all need to stop being offended by something that isn’t necessarily what we believe so that we can see the other side. So we can find comradery and peace. We do not need to all agree, but respect must be mutual.
(Featured image is a certain example of many I’ve seen. Took from Facebook so I’d like to give credit, but I have no idea where it originated from)