Are We Easily Offended?

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: “We aren’t allowed to say… anymore”. I’m guessing most of us have said “you can’t say that” (mostly to grandparents and older generations with questionable views), or changed a word we’re going to say to another more ‘correct’ one. But, is it the rules of what we can say that have changed, or simply what people will and won’t tolerate? Just because you “could” say it before, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should’ve.

Society has changed. People have more rights, and people are more aware of those rights. Yes, it’s still a predominantly upper-class white male dominated world (how fab). But people can stick up for themselves more. They know when they don’t have to “tolerate” or “deal with” being mistreated. They know how they should or shouldn’t be treated. For example, I should be treated like the gift to the world that I am. So, people know that they don’t have to listen to derogatory words used about them. They don’t have to put up with it anymore.

I admit, people do seem to be a lot more sensitive in the past, with people constantly choosing their words carefully to avoid offending someone or being labeled as discriminatory in some way. But is being aware of the effects of what we say necessarily a bad thing? Shouldn’t we have to think about what we say and how it will impact others? God FORBID having to think of the consequences of what you do.

Sometimes, people do just seem to want to look for hurt and malice where there is none, or as my ma would say “some people are while easily offended”. People need to be aware of whether the offence is the responsibility of the speaker or hearer. Someone can take offence even if nothing “offensive” was actually said. It’s like if you tell someone they look like their ma – it’s not offensive, but some people get offended by it. Not me though, don’t worry, Claire.

Even vegans are getting involved (how unlike them) with some claiming that phrases like “don’t flog a dead horse” promote and normalise mistreatment of animals. Even though the phrase clearly says not to beat an animal but okay.

There’s always extremists who take it a step further, and say that things which aren’t offensive, are. The problem is that this hides the actual issues with things people say. If you ask people to change words or phrases because they’re derogatory or offensive, then people will change. But if you demand unreasonable changes, then people won’t listen and they’ll not change anything they say.

People need to be more aware of the consequences of their actions. If you want to say something, fine. But if no one wants to hear it, then it’s not fine.

There’s a difference between when something’s unwanted, and when it’s wrong. Will I be offended if you call me ugly? No, because I got 100 likes on my selfie probably. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? No.

Will I be offended if you make a sectarian comment? Oh, honey, yes. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? You betcha.

Let’s be real, we’re not running out of words anytime soon. New words are constantly made up and added to our vocab (my personal fave is “yeet”), so if you can’t use a certain word, find another one. Preferably one that won’t make people angry. Or, better yet: keep your rude opinions to yourself. Problem solved!!

It’s pretty straightforward – if people don’t want to be called something, don’t call ’em it. Drake’s real name’s Aubrey, but he doesn’t like it (wonder why) so wants to be called Drake. So what do we do? We call him Drake. See how easy it is??

Even if you don’t agree with not being able to say a word/phrase without judgement or backlash, why not save yourself the bother and confrontation by keeping it tucked away in that lil brain of yours. Why make controversial comments and then complain you’ve had a backlash?

To sum: stop pissing people off.
The end.

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The “C” Word

Culture. Well, what other word would I be talking about? Tut TUT. Anyway, if you’ve been on social media recently (or Buzzfeed in particular), you can’t seem to scroll far without coming across the word. It seems that every time a song, music video, or fashion photography is released, it comes into play. All this talk of culture and appropriation got me thinking, what actually is culture? Well, let’s ask boy George, shall we?

What a man

Culture is: “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”

These “people” include races, religions, nationalities and ages – just because two people are from the same place, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have the same culture. A Parisien Islamic pensioner and Parisien Catholic teenager will obviously have cultural differences (duh).

So, culture includes what we do, think, eat, wear and how we act and behave. But where does it end? Is burning other nationalities’ flags “culture”? What about shooting people? Colonisation? Fast food? Not saying thanks to the bus driver? (Eugh, imagine) Is this “culture”?

How big do these “people, groups and societies” have to be for their behaviour to qualify as “culture”? Can any behaviour done by these groups by classified as culture?

A group of a certain race, religion, nationality and who support a certain soccer team shout sectarian and racist songs and abuse at matches (hypothetically of course, this would never happen). This is a group which share views and attitudes, and this is a social behaviour after all, so does that make it culture?

People seem all too quick to excuse a behaviour by saying it’s their culture. It eliminates their responsibility and shifts the blame. It’s not them choosing to act that way, it’s out of their control – it’s instilled in them, it’s how they were raised. Headers.

We need to stop using “culture” as a justification. Not only does this skew what people think is “okay”, it also undermines actual culture. If anything can be classified as a cultural behaviour, then it loses its definition. We lose the ability to distinguish and tell the difference between what we should deem unacceptable and acceptable.

As well as this, a group of people behaving a certain way and branding it “culture” creates a stigma and association attached the wider group they’re a part of. This results in stereotypes of nations, races and religions, having them branded and labeled as a whole. Spoiler alert: not all Irish people are alcoholics and drunks, despite what films repeatedly portray. Very badly, and usually with a Scottish accent, might I add (@ Gerard Butler- you brought our country shame).

Good.

Anyway, recently there seems to a rise in people defending and wanting to “protect” their culture. Even if said culture involves discrimination or abusive behaviour. So, why the desire now more than ever to retain it?

Well, we live in a world where cultures seem to be blending into one – shoutout to multinational corporations !! No matter where you are in the world, you can most likely eat the same things and buy the same brands. Globalisation means that sadly, small and local firms are being put out of business by the big dogs.

Don’t get me wrong, these companies allow us to pay less for products, order food despite not speaking the language, and make things more accessible. But what don’t they do? Pay tax, yes. But offer a sense of “home”. They offer it to visitors, but not natives of the country. Nothing screams ‘traditional’ like a Bershka or H&M. That’s the real reason I go on holiday.

Beautiful

You can go abroad, walk down the city’s main street, and feel like you’re home. Same shops, same language (shoutout to English speaking countries for apparently being the only ones not to learn another language !!) and thanks to global warming, the same weather. How FAB.

In a time where everything’s blurring to become more similar, of course it’s important to preserve traditions and culture (ones that don’t harm others, just to clarify). Things that make us unique, things you can’t get or do just anywhere. But first, we have to stop using it as a scapegoat for acting like eejits.

Why Did Azealia Banks Call Me “Ugly”?

Well, I’m sure you all probably know the whole drama surrounding Azealia Banks this week. But if not, here’s wee recap:

Basically Azealia Banks (she’s a “rapper”) was due to perform in Dublin’s Academy, and so was flying over from wherever she was. She got into a dispute with the flight attendant and then left the plane. She was flying meant to be flying with Aer Lingus, so instead of insulting the employee or the Irish air line, Miss Banks had to take it a step further and insult the whole country and its people. How nice.

Miss Banks sporting the native flag of us “ugly” folk

She went on a big rant on Instagram, crying and saying that all Irish women are “ugly”. This is obviously untrue, I mean, have you seen me? My ma says I’m gorgeous. Anyway, she obviously had a bit of making up to do before her concert to avoid being “potatoed” (egged, but, with spuds) on stage as one Instagram user threatened. Way to break stereotypes guys.

After sailing over (she refused to fly), she played to a surprising 800 “fans” – maybe they forgave her, or maybe they just wanted to get their money’s worth – dedicated to “beautiful Irish women”. This girl should really teach a masterclass in PR damage control.

Actual footage of Azealia Banks trying to win back her Irish fans

So that’s that then? Oh, honey no.
For literally no reason, Azealia decided to bash us once more online. This time, she stepped up her childish insults by decided branding the Irish as “inbred”, “barbarians”, and said to one Instagram user “don’t you have a famine to go die in?” What a lovely gal, a true delight.

Anyway, why did she do this? Why be racist not once, but twice to a whole nation purely because of one altercation with a flight attendant?
Because she needs help? Likely. But I’m gonna Louis Theroux it and whack another theory in the mix: she needs publicity.

It’s no secret that apart from her banger “212” – which is SUCH a tune by the way, her other songs haven’t exactly topped the charts,
and she doesn’t get much airtime because of the style and language in her music. When all of this was going on, a lot of users were asking who she even was; I – a former fan, didn’t even know she was on tour (in my own country?)

Her Instagram story went viral, with users flocking to her profile to watch her “rant”. People who didn’t even know who she was or forgot about her went on too, thus (what a word) planting her name back in their minds. People went on her profile, Googled her, talked about her, commented on her posts, giving her a stack of bad publicity. Which is still publicity.

Plus, Azealia Banks gets more exposure and is better known for her “beef”s with celebrities like Lana Del Ray on Twitter than her music. She’s a controversial figure, and she doesn’t exactly have a positive image or reputation, so what has she got to lose? The hearts of a nation, yes. But sure, we’re all inbreds and apparently the rest of the world doesn’t care about us or want to associate with us leprechauns anyway.

So, maybe this was just another little PR stunt to keep her in the public eye, or maybe she is just a header. Who knows?

New Year, Slightly Improved Me

Well, it’s that time again. You know the one, where everyone decides that after 25 years, they’re going to change basically everything about themselves and how they live their lives? Not that I’m cynical or anything. I’m sure this really IS the year you’ll start yoga and veganism, Becky. Not that I can judge, I did spend £40 on a journal in the hopes that it’d fix my life.

you-said-new-87a9xp

Anyway. To get in the spirit of things, here’s some of my new year resolutions. Now, why am I posting this a week into the year you ask? Well, good question dear sir. I’ve decided to post this now for a few reasons: 1) I haven’t actually had the time to write the past week so this is the first chance I’m getting, and 2) I wanted to try out some resolutions before publicly declaring what they were, so I could scrap the failed ones and pretend I never attempted them 🙂

I don’t expect these to magically transform my life and make it all ‘Ferris Beuler’s Day Off’ parade-scene-like, but maybe it’ll make it a wee bit better. Note: Before you think I’m not attempting much, I’m actually doing lil technique called ‘aim low and avoid disappoint’ that I’ve been perfecting for the past 21 years. See, there’s a difference between simple, and deceptively simple, my friend.

1) Join the gym.

HA, syke. Not gonna set myself up disappointment, am I?

1) Be more positive*.

Does what it says on the tin, really. I’m just going to try to ignore the big ugly clouds, and focus on the nice sparkly lining around it. Like a magpie. ‘Think like a magpie’, hmm, I like the sound of that actually.

*I can confirm that I did try this last week but had to admit defeat after life just pushed me a wee bit too far (cheers world). BUT I will definitely try to keep this up. Gonna keep thinkin’ like a magpie.

2) Make the most of final year

This doesn’t really come into effect until September, which buys me some time. Because I’m on placement, I now have a newfound appreciation for freedom university life. I miss lunch dates and lie ins learning and expanding my mind 🙂 and just having a good damn time. So in final year, I’m just going to ignore the fact that I have finals, a dissertation and £15,000 of debt, and focus on the positives and freedom I have before going back to working full-time. What could possibly go wrong?

Edit: I also need to make the most out of my final year of student discount. The uni fees have basically paid for themselves with the amount I’ve saved. Probably.
3) Seize every opportunity

Gonna carpe the ole’ diem. Basically say ‘yes’ to more (things that I want to do) and ask “why not?” rhetorically. I want to seize opportunities like England seized the 6 counties. All too many times we pass on things that we may never get the chance to do again. Got a friend living abroad? Go visit them. Cheap tickets? Buy ’em. 20% student discount? Fill your boots.
4) Travel more

Because I only had 2 weeks of summer before starting work, I didn’t really get a summer holiday, and haven’t had the same opportunities to go away that I did at uni. So I’m determined to get away every chance I can get. I miss plastering myself in Factor 50 suncream and spending all day searching for shade. I miss having to point at menus and say “I’m not from here” with pleaing eyes and GAA jerseys. I miss getting up at 4am for a 2pm flight and paying £2.80 for a cup of tea. Ah, those were the glory days.
5) Cut down on single use plastics

This is an important one. I want to become more environmentally aware and make more lifestyle changes and swaps to help the Earth. Thankfully, a lot of companies are starting to make changes like swapping to paper alternatives or removing plastic packaging which makes it easier for me to do so. Well what’s the point trying to improve your life if you don’t have a planet to live it on?
6) Think less

Oh how big headed of me. I am the modern day Einstein and I want to be more like the common man. Basically I want to stop overthinking and worrying about things. A simple life is a happy life, there’s no need to scrutinise and analyse every little thing. I just want to be more easy going and laid back about life in general. If it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, well it doesn’t. Build a bridge and get over it. Move on.

7) Wear skirts casually.

I’ve tried this one for the past 3 years and it has never once happened. I’m just going to let it go. Just stick to trousers, Niamh.

7) Blog more

Off to a great start as you can see. I do really enjoy blogging, but I admit when I’m really tired at the end of the day, I sometimes can’t bring myself to write. Last year I’d just type them up on my phone when I’d time to spare, and come up with ideas regularly so that I was never stuck for something to write. But life got in the way and I got out of the habit of it, so I’m going to pick it back up again.

8) Be happppppppy

I don’t care what I’m doing, who it’s with or where it is. As long as I’m happy doing it. This year, I want to be more happy and generally content with myself, my life and my situation, whatever that it. I have no idea where I’ll end up or what I’ll be doing, but I’m determined to just smile and enjoy the ride. If I’m going to have to get old and have wrinkles, they better be laughter lines and not frown ones.

happy.gif

There ya go, nothing groundbreaking but I think they’re achievable enough anyway. Just don’t check up on me in December to see how I’m getting on with them. Thanks.