Taking Offence

The stupidity of seeking and taking offence.

The ease with which you take offence is likely inversely proportional to your intelligence. Exceptions exist – intelligent people who are offended easily and unintelligent people who aren’t, but it’s still reliable.

To take offence is to carry mental baggage, baggage with weight that influences your actions. Whether to mentally nurse a grudge within your head, or, acting it out in the real world, respond with words or deeds.

And that means that I let someone else dictate my choices to me. If someone calls me an idiot, says I write badly or any such thing, and if I’m one of those who ‘take’ offence, I believe I ‘need’ to respond. Which means that I drop everything else and spend the next few minutes now ‘responding’. Whether it’s insulting him back, defending myself, ‘proving’ he’s wrong or any similar stupidity.

Why would I do something as dumb as that? Probably because I am dumb, that I can’t see what’s going on, how I’m no different from a puppet jerked by a string – the string in this case any fool who insults me (and a fool he is, if he has nothing better to do than this). Or, less likely but still possible, and perhaps even more pitiful, that I know all this, yet my life is so sad that I have nothing better to do with my time, and welcome the distraction this joust brings.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

As if someone saying something about me or something / someone I care about has any bearing on what they actually are – as if being called a moron makes you one. Perhaps your environment comes into it, and you feel compelled to respond because other people expect you to – but then why live up to their expectations? The ideal solution might be to not surround yourself with such people. Failing that, which isn’t always possible, I might wonder why I need to give them what they expect. And not just in this situation, but in every situation – do I now stop responding the way I would, and instead respond the way others think I will?

A stupidity that seems to be common is the full-time occupation of seeking out things to take offence at. Whether it’s righty or lefty, someone somewhere in the world says something, fails to say something, draws something, makes a movie or an ad, writes a book – and you have legions of warriors coming out of the woodwork announcing how offended they are.

Of so many billions of people, someone, somewhere, at any point of time, will be doing something or the other. You can, if so inclined, get through life taking offence at some such thing or another without pause. It says a lot about someone if they can drop everything so easily to indulge in such offence seeking – though it’s really just virtue signalling.

Truth & Pride

Let us take anger as an example. If someone calls you an idiot, you get angry.

If someone insults me, what is the reason that anger arises in me?
Not how to “deal with” it. Or how to lessen it. Or how to eradicate it.
But to understand why it arises in the first place.
Anger is not a form of self-defense. It is a manifestation of inner conflict

You see, if someone calls you an idiot, something within you at least partially entertains or accepts the idea that you are an idiot. This idea that you may be an idiot, in turn, causes you to feel very uneasy about yourself. And this uneasiness is manifested as anger.
The person calling you an idiot simply set the stage and created the opportunity for you to examine how you felt about yourself. And when you did not like what you saw internally, you reacted with anger externally.
The anger, in this example, is simply a manifestation of the inner conflict of entertaining the possibility that you are an idiot and disliking the fact that you are entertaining it in the first place.
I will state categorically that if within yourself there was no possibility that you were an idiot, anger simply would not arise.

Atmamun, Kapil Gupta

Why would I take offence? Is it simply because someone says something insulting? That depends on what a person takes offence at.

If you’re talking about the ‘content’ of the message, then simply being ‘insulting’ isn’t itself enough. If I knew something was obviously false, I wouldn’t care much, even if it was insulting. Reacting to being called weak, or ugly, or stupid, or being attacked on a particular front – a bad writer or pathetic artist – hits home when there’s material to feed on. Which is when I suspect there’s some truth to it, even if I won’t like to admit it. Which means either I think it’s true, or I think others might think it true – because it might actually be true, or might appear to be true.

It’s not always that straightforward. Most of the choicest insults you can think of are very evidently not literally true, but you can still manage to get offended. It’s not so much about what’s said than it is about how it’s said, and then what’s felt. Perhaps I don’t react so much to the fact someone called me a ******* than I do to the lack of ‘respect’ and the way I am addressed vis-à-vis the way I think I deserve to be addressed with.


“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being offended on being contradicted is one of the greatest symptoms of stupidity. It’s also a cause of stupidity, because it means you can never change your mind. Which means you’ll never reach beyond whatever you are now, because you can’t entertain any idea you don’t already agree with.

It’s a way to save your face when someone says something you don’t agree with, but don’t have any response to. A good debate tactic when your audience and judges are idiots. Accusing someone of insensitivity, or rudeness, or arrogance, or bluntness. Or taking it a step further and claiming racism, sexism and other ‘isms’. Naturally, you only rely on it when you view every conversation as a debate to be ‘won’, a different view as a ‘competing’ view to be ‘defeated’, and a change of stance as a ‘defeat’.

It’s the difference between caring about who is right v/s what is right. If I think I need to always be correct, my esteem and self-image depend on it, I’ll go to any length to convince myself my stance is what is true, shutting out anything that contradicts it. Of course, suffering for it when I’m wrong, but shielding my little ego in return for it. And if I care only about what’s true, recognizing it’s irrelevant whether it comes from me or someone else, I don’t care whether I was right, so long as someone was. If anything, I’d welcome someone else’s truth into my own – it means I gained something I didn’t have before.

Seeking Offence

If I’m offended easily then, it’s probably because I’m dumb enough to think I need to react when someone does something, letting him play me like a fiddle. Why do I react? It might be because I can’t think consciously, and I am simply a puppet to be jerked by a string by anyone who wants to.

Or perhaps I can think somewhat, and what offends me is that I believe somewhere that what I’m hearing is true, and that thing being true is something I can’t bring myself to acknowledge. Or that I think of myself rather highly, and seeing someone who clearly doesn’t think of me that way is something I find hard to accept. Or it might simply be that I have nothing better to do in my sad life and welcome the escape these diversions bring.