The other day, my mental filter kicked in at work. I was about to say something* that could be offensive, and stopped myself as I didn’t want to upset my more sensitive coworkers. I know they’re more sensitive, because I’ve experience not listening to my filter in the past.
It depresses me often, as I enjoy having real conversations, but the people out there in the world willing to have those conversations seem hard to find. Empty conversations feel exactly as they are described. Empty.
I started wondering when the last time I remembered being offended occurred. No surprise, I drew a blank. Which begged the question: What would offend me? Again I drew a blank. (Outside of the obvious: racism, sexism, unquestionable acts against humanity, etc.)
Of course, this wasn’t a novel realization. I’ve engaged in the “what offends me” exercise before with the same blank and revealing results.
When I want to see this character trait in a positive light, I choose to believe that it’s because I spend too much time observing life rather than directly experiencing it, that learning and being creative requires I set no boundaries. When I honestly acknowledge the negative, I admit that I have an unhealthy desire to see what makes people tick, and how they respond to philosophical challenges that make them uncomfortable.
What was stranger, I realized I wanted to be offended. I look forward to the day it happens (careful what you ask for huh?).
Why? Because if someone succeeds in offending me, and I am paying attention to that experience, I can learn a lot about myself, maybe something I’ve never consciously been aware of.
Still, it got me wondering if this was an intrinsic character trait of those who are drawn to writing. After all, we have to be able to absorb a great deal of criticism. We have to analyze that criticism, validate or invalidate it, and incorporate it, especially when it comes to the stories we tell and opinions we publish. More, in our writing, we also need to be brave enough to ignore the very filters I mentioned above. If we are a slave to who we fear we will offend, we cheapen the very things we write.
I am curious how others who call themselves writers and authors feel about the question. What offends you?
*If you wanted to know what I was afraid would be offensive: I was about to explain that one of my favorite comedies was The Invention of Lying. I find this movie’s parody on the invention of religion hysterical. Still, if I had gone on to explain my reasons in any detail, I’d have come off as purposely aggressive to my more religious co-workers. Hense: not work appropriate