Hot on the heels of my last post about offending people I know by mentioning their exploits or my thoughts of their exploits on this blog, I’d like to cast a slightly wider net and consider offending people I don’t actually know.
I often wonder whether there are people out there who stumble on my blog, read it and are so offended by it that they are too apoplectic to even write a comment telling me how my seemingly innocent post has offended them.
I’m not talking about your everyday troll, the warrior king of the keyboard, who thinks I am a dickhead and tells me such; I’m talking about people who are genuinely upset by the balderdash that pours forth from my keyboard.
Recently this has been another cause for concern. There are a lot of subjects I want to air my opinions about but have stepped back from the brink because those subjects are controversial and may cause distress to over-sensitive souls.
I have touched on subjects like religion but held back because I have known that some readers will genuinely dislike what I write – not that my opinions are extreme – they’re not. But I have had debates with religious people who have stormed off in disgust because I have questioned their belief system.
There is a line and I have never dared to approach it, let alone march up to it and stomp over without a care for the casualties of my words.
Once again, it’s “Nice Guy Syndrome”.
There are some subjects I am passionate about, such as music, and I will quite happily pour scorn on musical genres I hate, the general state of the music industry and the dumbing down of the masses with insipid pointless commercial crap that is making arseholes like Simon Cowell incredibly rich at the expense of a person with a great voice who will fall by the way side and never be heard of again.
I have even written about things I think are rubbish, like Shakespeare, opera and reality television. Yet these supposedly controversial posts have been relatively mild and offer a carrot to anybody who is willing to engage me in a debate about them.
The truth is I can’t imagine anybody getting upset because I have dragged the name of opera through the mud; at worst most people will laugh and consider me to be a blinkered buffoon unwilling to expand my horizons.
I don’t care. I have a thick skin and am happy for people to think that.
Yet if I were to turn to politics, say, and express my views in a similar way to some Americans do on their blogs, I fear that I might genuinely make an enemy or two out there; likewise with religion.
I have skirted around both subjects in the past but fallen way short of expressing my true feelings about the state of politics in Britain and other countries. The closest I’ve come really is a post about Margaret Thatcher, a woman who is seen as a hero by certain parts of the community but who I actually despised.
Again that post was relatively mild and my feelings were masked behind light-hearted observations and stolen jokes.
I have read posts in America where the author has written some truly horrific things about their politicians, particularly Barack Obama. One time, I was so stunned by what I read that I left an innocuous comment and ended up on the receiving end of a troll-like attack.
I am not sure whether if, say, I wrote a post praising the work of somebody such as Obama, whether my comment box would be full of comments from pissed off readers accusing me of being a communist.
It’s the threat of such comments that keeps me back from the line I have drawn.
Mrs PM has suggested that I air my views more and discuss controversial topics in order to attract attention to my blog.
I’m not sure whether that is a price I am willing to pay. I want people to read my posts and have a smile on their face at the end of it instead of a look of pure ferocity that makes them want to vent their fury in an enormous vitriolic comment.
Anger turns people into keyboard warriors and I don’t like keyboard warriors.
Hence I have backed off.
Nevertheless, I am in a dilemma because I really do want to court controversy. I want to express myself but I don’t want to offend people or turn mild mannered readers into raging trolls.
Despite all of this, part of me wants to say:
“So you’re offended, are you? So bloody what? Just because you are offended by my views doesn’t actually mean you are right and I am wrong. Just get over it!”
However, once again, “Nice guy syndrome” kicks in again and I find myself resisting the desire to push forward and challenge people about why the things I am saying are so offensive. For some people, the phrase “I’m offended” seems to put them on the moral high ground and they look down on you as if you are some sort of snivelling demon intent on upsetting everybody.
For example, if a man was outraged because I used the word “PHHARRK!” in front of him, I would laugh and say:
“For God’s sake get a grip, man! Everybody swears! Get over it.”
He might then chastise me for using the Lord’s name in vain.
And do you see what these people are doing to me? I use the word “PHHARRK!” in my blog instead of the real word – simply because it might be offensive to somebody.
How about you dear reader?
Do you like the thought of being controversial?
Are you willing to court controversy and offend people, even innocently?
Do you care if you offend people?
It is yet another blogging dilemma that is haunting me.
I will stay on the safe side of the line for now and keep people happy – with the exception of Simon Cowell lovers and those who think the X Factor is the future of music of course.
Those people are fair game in my opinion.
And perhaps I might just stop saying “PHHARK!” instead of “FUCK!”
BUGGER! That’s the first time I’ve used the “PHHARK!” word in my blog.
SHIT! Now I’ve said “BUGGER!” as well.
Please carry on reading - and please don't become a troll.