Does our language really matter? Are we just too sensitive now? A lot of the information that is fed to us is exacerbated in the media and sensationalized (ex: Clinton v. Trump v. Bernie Sanders) so apparently that is why Amurica isn’t phased when he grabs her by the pussy. Unfortunately, I am now learning that a lot of Canadians aren’t disturbed by it either.
In a less extreme context, are we being too sensitive when we cringe at words and phrases like: “cripple”; “I’m so bipolar”; “I could just kill myself”; and my favourite (not actually), “I got raped by this exam”?
Cringing isn’t the best description. Cringing simply doesn’t encapsulate all the emotions and history behind someone who lives with a physical and/or mental illness. Especially when it’s roots grow from traumatic experiences such as abuse, assault, and/or rape.
These “words” and “phrases” used casually make us angry, disappointed and may also act as triggers, which in my opinion is the most damaging and consequential.
We forget that it can act as a trigger, thus evoking powerful emotions that can cause a great deal of depression and anxiety. I’m no saint and also plead guilty too when it comes to using some terms and phrases loosely. The obvious problem is that we aren’t mindful of other’s experiences when all of this tumbles from our mouths. The difference is that the individual person needs to have a degree of self-awareness to evaluate the meaning behind our language. So yeah, you may have said it and felt a slight twinge inside knowing that it was wrong. The important question you have to ask yourself is how can you correct it next time? How can you temporarily step into their shoes and empathize for a moment?
There isn’t enough empathy in the world to absorb their emotions because the experience is theirs. However, our language strips away their experience entirely when we recklessly allow this language to continue in our everyday conversations.
For example, Western University (as well as other colleges and universities) have been slammed with serious consequences for holding “culturally inappropriate events”. Unsurprisingly, the response to those who are disappointed, upset, and angry, is that they are being too damn sensitive. I mean how can soooo many people relate to these guys dressed in bamboo hats while holding a guerilla gun? Let’s be honest for a second. This shit happens all. the. time. In other cases, it just slides past everyone’s attention because context matters.
In this case, their representation of these lived experiences are uncalled for because it pays no respect to the story behind their “costume” at all.
So what was the big deal about having guys dressed up with sombreros and orange jumpsuits? The emotional-political tone that Trump has triumphantly declared is the big deal. That costume is not “just a joke” when you have our neighbour’s President vowing to build a wall between “them” and the “mexicans”. A bunch of 20 somethings “partying” is not “just a joke” when you’re inadvertently supporting segregation. And segregation is not “just a joke”. Not that most 20 somethings born in Canada appreciate that because we haven’t had to experience it and we take that for granted.
The next extremist isn’t going to just dress up in a costume to represent a joke in bad taste when we make these statements openly and publicly, thus normalizing them.
That extremist will do much worse because all their values and beliefs have been validated. In their mind, the green light means go. I wonder if Flynna and Tila Tequila understand this when they push forward with their alt-right movement. Flynna was a typo but I kinda like it… so Michael Flynna it is.
I could continue with this blog post but I’m done for now. I haven’t even dove into the “Warning: Everyday conversations contain coarse language and mental health conversations need to be revised.”
I hope that anyone who feels like they’re constantly walking on eggshells because of all the “sensitive people” who “can’t take a joke” will think twice about how they affect someone else with the words that they use. Habits are real and they are hard to break. If you think you’re using “bad words” or phrases in private with your buddies, well guess again the next time you’re at a professional party or with a new group of friends. Know that you are slowly building a habit when inappropriate words or certain phrases like, “I’m so bipolar” or “I’m going to kill myself”, are frequently used. And that, my loves, will discredit anything else you say in the future. You will never know who you meet and what they’ve been through.