COLUMN: Toughen up

MORRISBURG — It is OK to take offence to what others do or say. If you are offended by a person’s beliefs, ethics, writing or business practices, grow a thicker skin and do not deal with said person or business.

This modern age of instant everything has given people an incredible platform of dealing with offensive things, social media. No longer do you go home after something stupid was said to you at work or at lunch and vent to your partner. Now you can log on to your phone and within seconds, a rant or rave about your offence hits the online world, shared by all. It is not just about work, it is everything. Someone screws up the singing of the national anthem at a sports game, a coffee shop chain changes their paper cup, the list goes on and on. Do not like it, go spout off about how XYZ is attacking Christmas or such. Online platforms have become the soapbox for every person under the sun that takes offence, to stand up and shout about it. That can be good thing if used well, but far too often it is not. In most occasions people just need to toughen up.

We live in a world where social media accounts cost nothing and you can register a blog for less than the cost of a meal out, online talk is cheap. If you are “lucky”, people or the news media may check it out and follow along. Now you get to offend. Great for you, a little bit of payback. The consequences of such are rarely ever thought of.

When you vent to your partner or friend about what someone said or did at work, it ends with the person you vented to. Vent online and it is out there for public consumption, including those you may offend yourself. Once posted, it never goes away. The unintended consequences may be the loss of a job for the original offender, or even yourself. The comments you write could impact you five, 10 or even 15 years later. Posting your rant on Facebook or Twitter can cause irreparable damage to a person, group or business. If the comment you take offence to was an off-hand or stupid comment, how likely is it your response will be just as ill-thought out? Sometimes a red cup is just a red cup; a business may actually close due to the owners being religious. A church may actually have good intentions with a policy. Or a business may not want to do business with certain companies based on their own beliefs. A cigar sometimes is just a cigar.

In the end, people need to go back to growing a thick skin and not over-react to offence first, and think second. Not everything needs to be posted to social media or a blog, and always you need to think before you write. It is as important as thinking before you speak.

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