When did we become a nation of spineless wimps, unable to emotionally cope with perspectives different from our own?
Was it when social media became so popular? Maybe now that we see so many differing perspectives, we’ve shut down mentally and cry “that’s offensive!” at every turn. No, people were offended before Facebook.
Maybe, then, it was the invention of the internet? Connecting with people outside of our usual circles exposed us to things we’d never even heard of before. No, television and newspapers accomplished that long before the World Wide Web.
Was it in the middle of the 20th century, when people were frequently admonished with, “those things aren’t polite to talk about in mixed company!”? Maybe that was the start of it. But no, that admonishment is much older than the 1950’s.
Perhaps it goes all the way back to the start of our country? Clearly people were getting into serious trouble for speaking their minds back then because it conflicted with the powers that be, making the 1st Amendment necessary. No, people were getting into serious trouble long before then!
Maybe it’s not just our nation, but all nations! We have the Puritans, and before that the Spanish Inquisition, and before that a thousand years of medieval times to show us that different viewpoints were often met with harsh punishment. Before that, we have the biblical times, and the ancient Roman civilization, and the ancient Chinese dynasties.
So maybe the question isn’t ‘when’ but ‘why’. Why do people become so troubled about information that doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas and ideals? Why are people so uncomfortable with different political or religious viewpoints that they figuratively (and sometimes literally) stick their fingers in their ears? What is it about pointing out differences that makes people so angry?
Why do people get so offended by things that they’ll cast aside a longtime friend or family member who doesn’t agree with them? Why are there a hundred psychological diagnoses for people who just can’t deal with things that aren’t familiar, or who can’t cope with experiences that are outside of their realm of reality? Are we really so mentally fragile and emotionally stunted as a species that we can’t speak our minds without someone crying foul?
Difference of opinion are what progresses us as people. If we never heard anything that challenged us, we’d still be living in caves, grunting at each other. If we didn’t speak up when something was wrong, we’d never change for the better. If we never questioned anything, we’d never learn anything.
Speak up! Allow yourself to be challenged. Question everything! And when someone whines because you’re offending their delicate sensibilities, tell ’em to grow a spine.