A few days ago I was standing in line at the post office. A mother and a young girl were standing behind me and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. The mom asked how the child’s day at school was and the little girl (who was maybe 7 years old) told her mom that her friend bullied her. The mom asked what happened and the daughter said that her friend told her that she didn’t like her My Little Pony schoolbag. The mom gently explained that even though it might have hurt her feelings, that incident was not bullying and that it was just a difference of opinion. The mother went on to explain what an opinion is and how it’s okay for people to have different opinions. I wanted to turn around and high five her, because nowadays, we seem to be in the middle of Generation Butthurt.
Anything that anyone says these days (particularly online) causes somebody somewhere to get offended. I have had friends delete me over my blog posts because they didn’t like my opinion. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all had the same opinions? I have no idea where this heightened sensitivity suddenly came from, but it is everywhere. I’ll use a mommy group as an example.
I often see posts in a mommy group where someone asks a question like “My five month old seems interested in food. What’s a good starter food?” And then someone will respond by saying that the recommendation is to wait until six months. Suddenly, people are attacking the person who responded saying things like “don’t bash her, it’s her decision,” or “mind your own business, hater.” But all the person who responded did was state a fact! I could understand if someone said something like ‘you must be terribly uneducated to feed your child before six months,” or “I feel sorry for your child,” then I could appreciate why someone would feel like they were being bashed. But when people are sharing information and stating it as nothing more than a fact, then what’s the problem?
I have no idea why people get so butthurt (I just love that word!) over things that other people say or do online. A while ago I made a blog post saying that ten kids is eight too many for me, and some people were ultra offended. One girl even told me that I was not being sensitive to large families. What I want to know is why does my opinion affect someone else’s life so much? Who gives a shit if I don’t want ten kids? Why does that affect you and your life? If you want ten kids, go for it. Fill your boots and your home. But just because my opinion is different doesn’t mean you should be offended. It’s almost like people look for a reason to get offended sometimes.
Another incident I had online was about an opinion that I expressed. Someone didn’t like what I had said and challenged me on it. She ended up sending me a private message telling me that she was reporting me to the police for cyber bullying. I pointed out that an opinion (even if brutally honest) is not bullying. She told me that it was and she was reporting me. All I could do was laugh and feel sorry for her because of how naïve, ridiculous and uninformed she was.
It made me wonder though, how many people falsely report cyber bullying when it’s actually just a difference of opinion? In Nova Scotia, the courts recently ruled that the anti-cyber bullying laws that were in place were being overruled as they infringed on the individual rights of a person with regards to freedom of speech and freedom of opinion. I’ll share a quote from a newspaper article that recently ran the story:
Privacy lawyer David Fraser said the law was always too broad and had the power to limit people from expressing themselves online.
“People should be able to express their honestly held opinions, particularly on matters of public interest,” he said.
“Anything that hurts anybody’s feelings, if it’s done online, it’s cyberbullying. You can be liable, you can sue somebody for cyberbullying, you can be subject to an order that can cut you off from the internet, confiscate your electronic devices. It’s absolutely Draconian.”
I think that laws that protect people from being bullied are extremely important. No one deserves to be bullied to the point where they are depressed, withdrawn, experiencing mental health issues or are suicidal. No one should have to fear going to work or school because they are being harassed and bullied. And no one should be subjected to repeated and consistent harassment and bullying online. But people seem to forget that there is a massive difference between bullying and honest (and sometimes brutally honest) opinions. People are so sensitive to opinions that differ from their own and I have no idea how or why this happened? I’m all about being politically correct, but I (and anyone else) should be able to state their opinions online without wondering if we hurt someone’s feelings simply because we hold views that are different from others.
So, next time you are online and you’re offended by something someone says, the best advice I know of is to just move on. It’s easy enough to get caught up and start a battle of wits, but it’s also much easier just to move on with your day and life. And if need be, block the person that’s pissing you off. It’s that simple. The thing about opinions is that they are a lot like assholes, everyone has one and sometimes they stink. But don’t let it ruin your day!