In this current technological and political age, the public is expected to put up a tough facade to bear the front of insults, personal attacks, cruel sarcasm, and more, unless they want to be labeled as an overly sensitive person, but is it right to do so?
Although the word "sensitive" is related to good qualities, those on social media have adapted it to entail someone with a bad trait rather than the opposite. To be sensitive is to care for other people's feelings and to recognize the change in someone's behavior or catch up on signals based on their regular mannerisms.
To be sensitive is to be properly human, and yet, now we criticize other people for it. The right wing politicians and supporters adapted the word "sensitive snowflakes" to refer to people who are offended by others who insult them, and then the word spread to be used by everyone. Where did we go wrong with recognizing the value of sensitivity?
I believe our culture, in general, used the word incorrectly so much that it became commonplace that someone who is sensitive cries about everything, rather than acknowledging that someone who is sensitive is someone who is in touch with their own feelings.
For example, someone who is sensitive will not necessarily complain to another individual (or cry to them) if their feelings got hurt, but they do acknowledge at least to themselves the impact of whatever was said to them. Someone who is sensitive will likewise understand that perhaps what they said could have had a negative impact on another, recognize it, and apologize for the unintended result.
In these scenarios, we have people who understand the link between feelings, words, actions, and respond to actions. In essence, interpersonal relationships thrive off of being sensitive.
Where the public went wrong was in believing that a sensitive person is easily offended. As stated before, the word "sensitive" refers to being in tune with your own feelings, but if you are easily offended, it means your feelings are essentially impulsive and getting the better of you. Spot the difference? In one case, you understand and are in control of your emotions, but in the other, you are not.
A wide majority of people now coin "sensitivity" to be used in the same scenario that being offended would be and that's incorrect. If you are making comments that can be seen as derogatory but hide it by saying it's sarcastic or just "fooling around," then that is an issue.
It's an issue that because of social media we cannot fully see. Social media has conditioned its users to accustom itself to being criticized possibly 24/7, and anyone who attempts to defend against them is seen as weak because it appears that they did not have the will to endure the offense. We have to stop that. It is not weak to have boundaries for oneself and then defend when those have feelings have been trampled more than once. That does not define someone as being overly-sensitive or easily offended, but rather rightfully offended and positively sensitive.
I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine recently about how it seems that there is now a complete disregard for other people's feelings when they say they are hurt. What ignited this conversation was that another friend of mine addressed how she felt hurt by remarks made about her and how they were beginning to really bother her.
The opposing argument was that my friend did not properly address how she felt earlier on, so she wasn't entitled to being so angry since she never addressed the initial feelings correctly. I sat there thinking that if she had done it sooner, she probably would still have been critiqued for it.
In our day and age, when is it time to say enough? When is it too soon? How can we possibly determine when someone should be mad about remarks that are hurting them. We can't speak for other people, but we can try to be sensitive to their emotions.
This is where I tie it all together. I do not believe that in this scenario my friend was being overly-sensitive, but rather my other friends were acting in a desensitized manner. As said before, our day and age are all about trying to desensitize ourselves from cruel remarks, and because of how digital everything has become, interpersonal conversations have taken a hit.
Sensitivity thrives in interpersonal connections, and without it, all we have is desensitization. Being desensitized is a negative trait, but with my friend, it seemed like that should have been her go-to, or rather it seemed like that's what was asked of her to be so that it could be a positive quality. I refuse this and so should everyone else.
Let's stop shaming people for being sensitive and start asking how we can be sensitive too. If you can't sympathize with other people then there's a different issue at hand, but being sensitive is not the same as being easily offended. Don't act apathetic towards others and learn to be a little empathetic; learn to be sensitive.
- The Easily-Offended Generation ›
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