When I was challenged to write a blog post, I (as expected) didn’t really know what to write about, since I had never done something like this. Naturally, some ideas came to mind, and I found myself thinking about Design since it is my area.
But then, for some reason, I changed my mind and all the other subjects were looking boring. At this point, I started thinking, “what the hell was my problem? Why can’t I just write about something?” Usually, the true challenge for me is to stop talking. The problem wasn’t the subject, but how I was going to talk about it. Because don’t fool yourself, it’s becoming quite hard to talk and give your opinion nowadays.
Eventually, it became clear that what I really wanted to write about was communication.
Is it alright to call it that? Did I offend anyone? Should I use another word, a more politically correct one? How does the minority feel about it? Did I offend someone using the word minority?
STOP! Just stop… Did all this sound childish and ridiculous? That’s because it is. Unfortunately, this behavior is becoming quite common nowadays and that worries me a lot. Every day we give a step forward (more like backward) in this field, every day more words offend more people in all kinds of different ways, and this is ending in a false sense of free speech, or even the lack of it.
For example, even the word “humus” nowadays can offend people, because it happens that are some who identifies as one! And that’s just crazy! (Noticed that I just offended a bunch of people with one sentence? Great…).
But really, if you think about it, we can’t use that word because we are using it in a way that has a totally different context and meaning than it has for some people, but they don’t realize or don’t want to realize that tiny detail, that has nothing of tiny in it.
More and more there is confusion in the correlation between feeling offended and saying something wrong, often leading to the conclusion that one implies the other. And it’s nothing like that! Just because someone feels offended, does not mean that what the other said is wrong… (Imagine saying to Hitler that he shouldn’t kill Jews, how offended he will be!)
“You have a free speech! You just can’t say…”
I think one of the best examples I can give regarding this “false sense of free speech” is the example of a very known Portuguese humorist, Ricardo Araújo Pereira.
Some months ago, he made a comment about a sketch he did years ago called “Bucha e Estica”. This is translated to something like the “fatty and the skinny” similar to Laurel and Hardy. He pointed out that this wouldn’t be possible nowadays because those words would be considered “offensive”.
Guess what? He was hardly criticized in the social media for using those words considered “politically incorrect”, and had people saying that he was just being a pussy. Which, by the way, I found pretty much ironic and funny. It’s just like saying: “Shut up, you have a free speech! You just can’t say this and give your opinion…”. Which is a brutal hypocrisy.
What were the reasons that lead to this sudden change in the communication and gave birth to this false sense of free speech? Personally, I think we could appoint a lot of different ones.
The sudden access that everyone obtained to platforms that let you state your opinion however and wherever you want – social media. The increasing number of people with lack of life purposes that lead to too much free time (if you are really reading this post, then probably you’re one of them, sorry for the bad news…), the number of people that think they don’t fit in our current society, that are unhappy, for every possible reason…
The Social Justice League
Those reasons lead to the birth of the secret society of the “Social Justice Warriors”: angry and upset people criticize everything they see in the social media, in the hope to find a life purpose. And that’s not good, since they will pass that “negative energy” to everyone.
Suddenly, no one would be able to say “fatty” without offending someone and will have to start saying “a bigger person than usual”, a more “politically correct” expression. This can go on until someone gets offended by that and we will have to change again to an even more “politically correct” one: “a being who can identify himself by the gender he wants, that is a bit above the medium of other beings similar to him, that can also identify themselves as they want”.
Again: THAT’S RIDICULOUS! And the worst is that this goes on in a cycle that never ends.
How can we correct this? How can we prevent it? We are always evolving, and maybe some expressions and notions really need to change. However, it’s no easy task to define which ones, because there are no logical rules that apply.
This isn’t mathematics, it’s not like 1 + 1 = “you can say humus and you will not offend someone”. Is a field where emotions and feelings are King, or Queen, or Neutral (as you want…) and their perceptions change between everyone. But that is no excuse to tolerate this behavior, and we should filter it very well.
Maybe, if instead of taking everything so serious, we should take it with a bit more humor. Instead of giving importance to the upset guy saying you can’t say “fatty”, just give a laugh and ignore him. And if you start doing this, maybe everyone will start doing the same and suddenly nobody would give importance to the “Social Justice Warriors”. Eventually, they will realize their own “emptiness”. Haha, good utopia!
I think the world is going forward a very dark path regarding communication, and a big part of our job and our duty – as “communicators” – is to help the world giving some “steps backward” in this field (maybe, with some laughs mixed in it), even that I don’t really know how, yet.