I recently read an article that gave some statistic that the number one reason people are "defriended" in social media outlets, such as facebook or twitter, is due to offensive comments. The article, and many others I heard comment upon the phenomenon, chalked it up to people thinking that they had immunity behind a computer screen, and thus, could write anything offensive that they liked. If put in front of those they were offending, they would be much less likely to do so.
But I want to take a different trajectory in why I think people are offended and why people offend over social media outlets, but perhaps, not in person.
First, I want to go back to discussions during the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I find the candor in debates, discussions, talk shows, etc. to be most illuminating. People spoke very bluntly to other people. They didn't sugar coat anything, and just said it like they saw it. And the amazing result of that was that many of the people to whom they spoke weren't actually offended by it. They were used to that sort of interaction, precisely, because families often spoke that way to one another, and the larger community was seen as an extension of the family.
Fast forward to our time. People are offended at the drop of a hat. Hence, they don't speak candidly to one another. But suddenly there arose a different form of media that was not bound by these social shackles, and because of this, people began to say what they really thought, regardless of who was offended.
The problem with that? Our society has become ever increasingly narcissistic; and when you offend a narcissist, whose whole life is spent on seeking approval and praise from his or her followers, oh I mean "friends," then he or she can no longer stomach even a hint of criticism. It becomes offensive and rude to the narcissist. Hence, having dared act in such a way, the offender is defriended in typical fashion.
Now, I don't care for stupid comments that center on just abusive language. However, I do think that people saying what they really think is a good thing when it comes to articulating beliefs and criticisms, not a bad thing. I also don't care how they say it all that much, as long as they express their ideas to let me know where they are coming from, and it's not done in some foul manner.
I do care whether people are going to set down an argument rather than pure assertion of opinion, but at least I am getting what they really think.
Chalk it up to the postmodern in me. I just think people should be real and that you should hang with them until they give you evidence that they have no intention to be real with you, or continue any sort of conversation that makes up a worthwhile relationship.
The younger generation is even worse than mine. You can't criticize a single thing about them or their arguments without them thinking you are the devil. It will only get worse as we let our kids think that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
What this really tells me is that, in our face to face lives, we have lost all sense of community and family, and are simply existing side by side as individuals who have very little meaningful interaction with one another. What may actually save us, despite the protests from the cult of the nice, is being forthcoming and direct on the internet.
It exposes the darkness within. It allows for the sword of the Spirit to swing at the right target. You cannot slay a lie you cannot see within another. People pretend in day to day life because they, as narcissists, want to save the image of themselves that they wish to project to others. They are likely online because it gives them an even greater ability to project false images. Yet, it also allows the critic to knock down that image and expose the narcissism of the individual being critiqued.
In essence, I don't think people should just be rude to be rude; but I do think that people should be real. And if it's rude to be real, I say the rude path is the only one worth taking. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. If your friends don't wound you, then they are not your friends. I suggest you defriend all of them and keep all of your offensive friends instead.