Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me!
Remember that saying? It’s from an old rhyme we used to say in school. Wikipedia says that it “persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured.”
It used to be that it was the responsibility of the person being insulted to work out how to maintain their composure and not be affected by the words being thrown at them. They’re only words, and people on the receiving end of insults do not have to react with aggression or violence, as many seem to think they do.
If I call you an idiot, that doesn’t give you the right to shoot me, although many people (especially in the US) seem to think it does. Execution is not an appropriate punishment for someone insulting your heritage.
As our society descends into the dark and smelly caverns of political correctness, we’re becoming more and more insistent that other people are responsible for hurting our feelings – and they should pay for it! We’re moving away from a level of self-responsibility and maturity that says, “Your insults only show me what kind of person you really are, and I’m not going to lower myself to the same level you’re obviously on.”
Instead, we’re moving towards a level of self-responsibility and maturity that is equal to children on the playground. “Your insults hurt me! I’m going to call the teacher on you! Waaaah!”
By encouraging this blame game and making other people responsible for our hurt feelings, we’re actually teaching people to cry and whinge and moan and complain and blame everyone else for all their issues, instead of teaching them how to deal with life’s challenges with maturity and responsibility. We’re teaching adults that they don’t need to grow up, and that they can keep calling for the ‘teacher’ to deal with their problems.
How we react to insults or negative words is entirely within our control. We can be mature about it and let it go without affecting us, or even make jokes about it to remove its power, or we can cry and run around demanding something be done to stop it.
For a long time I used to say, “I’m not here to tiptoe around your sensitivities.” I think I need to say it a lot more often, and to a lot more people.
Whatever it is you’re sensitive about, you need to deal with that. If you let your sensitivities affect you, it not only weakens your ability to have a positive and rewarding life, it actually encourages bullies to act against you. Saying you don’t like it will have no effect on them in the real world.
Bullies love to have a powerful, emotional and negative effect on the people they’re bullying. The more of an effect they have on the person they’re bullying, the more they enjoy it. They’ll keep on doing it if it gets the results they want. And if the victim runs to the ‘teacher’, it just gives the bully that much more satisfaction.
If you instead react in a way that shows the bully hasn’t had the negative effect on you that they were hoping for, then it deflates their entire purpose for bullying you. If you laugh about it, ignore it, make jokes about it, or otherwise show you’re not affected by it, then the bully loses all incentive to continue doing it.
By crying about bullies and ‘negative words in society’, all we’re doing is showing to the bullies out there that if they use those ‘negative words’, they’ll have more success.
And I believe this is why there are more ‘trolls’ now than there ever used to be. It’s not just because the anonymity of the internet allows them the freedom to be insulting and abusive, it’s because there’s so many more soft and sensitive souls out there that cry every time someone uses a bad word.
If we cried less and instead said to ourselves, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” we’ll start to return to a more mature society that prides itself on not responding to trolls and idiots. And that will also mean there’s less trolls and idiots roaming around, ’cause no one is giving them any attention.
Treat people with care, do not respond to the trolls, idiots and abusers (or respond in ways that show their words have no effect on you), and you start to actively move this society towards self-responsibility.
And I think that’s a lot better than having a cry and demanding someone do something about someone having used a bad word….
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