Friday 11 October 2013

No Offense

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.

And “SHIT!”

I’m doomed.

No offense.

Please carry on reading - and please don't become a troll.


Grace said...

Someone said something like "You should start the way you mean to continue" - You seem to be of a humourous bent - and sometimes you can make more of a point that way.

I'm not sure what the attraction is of controversy. Or arguments just for the sake of arguments. Of course 'preaching to the choir' isn't always satisfying - you get to say what you want to say but you're saying it to people who agree with you...

If I read a blog post that I disagree with I often whip off an tasty reply and then don't publish it - what's the point? I know what that person thinks/feels and I disagree. Neither of us is going to change the other's view. I don't need the negativity.

All in all - personal blogs - I like the ones that make me laugh.

Elephant's Child said...

There are some things I feel strongly enough about, that I don't mind offending people. And really why are they offended? They don't agree - fine. But putting a different viewpoint isn't (usually) offensive.
Insisting that I, and I alone can possibly be right is Offensive I mean. And silly.

JahTeh said...

It's your blog Plasman and you can do anything you want to especially rage over the current music(?) crap. I know it's crap but I don't know enough about music to really go to town on it, I need to read an expert view, fire away.
As for swearing, it's a way to vent without actually stabbing someone with a carving knife but every second word is just laziness, our language is rich in alternatives including quite a lot from Shakespeare.

River said...

Controversial? I don't think I even know how. I'm pretty sure I've never been offended by anything I've read here. I know this blog is aimed at the world in general not at me personally and everyone has their own views on everything and those views are not necessarily the same as mine. Which is a good thing, if ideas and opinions didn't vary, the world would never move forward. I don't really understand why people would choose to pick on any particular statement or idea and be offended or outraged, as if you are picking apart their personal lifestyle and beliefs. Don't they have the sense to know that you are merely stating your own views, your own likes and dislikes?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grace,

I can see your point. I started the blog off as a light-hearted observation of life's foibles and, largely, it has remained that way.

I'm just asking myself whether it should evolve - maybe the answer is no.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Some people are offended because they don't agree and are so sure that they are right that they try to make you feel bad for having the cheek to go against the grain.

To be honest I wouldn't mind offending those kind of people. But whether or not to provoke a reaction for the sake of it?

Not sure.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi JT,

Wise words indeed. I do swear in the flesh so to speak and laugh when people are offended - but these people are usually slightly strange anyway. Just about everybody I know swears.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

You're right. I am quite opinionated but I am willing to listen to anybody who challenges my view on life.

Taking music as an example, I discussed the merits of hip hop, a genre I despise, with a DJ friend who loves it but hates rock music.

You would have thought that we fought like a couple of mad buffoons - but what actually happened was that the two of us gained an insight into the merits of each other's tastes in a very amicable way.

That's the way it should be - no offense anywhere.




drb said...

I am not religious but I do resent people swearing infront of me - 'f' and 'c' particularly, unless your naked foot has stepped on a huge thumbtack or similar situation.

Why? I despise people whose vocabulary is some limited that they can't express themselves wthout resorting to vulgarities.

It is true that just because I am offended does not mean I am right.
However, I can choose with whom I will interact.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

IMHO swearing doesn't mean you have a limited vocabulary necessarily - in some cases it does I have to admit. I know that my vocabulary is quite large.

I tend to swear only to emphasise what I am saying, to reinforce my annoyance for example. I don't use swear words in everyday conversation.

And I am not a big fan of the C word at all.