No matter the issue, it seems as though comment sections these days are filled to the brim with people offering their two cents on the question of whether or not we as a society have become too sensitive or too “soft.”
I’ve personally been called sensitive since I was a child. As a male, this hasn’t always boded well for me. While in the past I tried to make a conscious effort to act “tougher” or to hide my sensitivity in certain situations, I am now comfortable enough to accept myself for who I am.
So, here’s my first problem with this current debate. Sensitivity in our society seems to be viewed as weakness, as the above question suggests. This is a fallacy. Our capitalistic values teach us that competition in addition to climbing the social latter are essential in being “successful” and that those who make decisions based on emotions (ew, gross) will ultimately suffer. This mindset doesn’t only cause us to point out the flaws of others; it also makes us lack empathy. This is where our negative perception of sensitivity comes from.
And the next issue. The debate surrounding whether or not we are too sensitive seems to be brought up hand in hand with the first amendment – it seems to be centered on the freedom to express our thoughts. And while that’s all well and good, just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should say something.
As social media becomes more accessible and continues to grow with platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, the anonymity attached to these vehicles has allowed for an increase in cyber bullying and a decrease in personal consequences. Are you free to make those hateful comments? Sure. Should you do so? In my opinion, absolutely not. The growing exposure to hateful speech along with the notion that more and more people are reacting negatively to various content instead of constructively discussing it leads me to believe that society isn’t growing more sensitive, actually quite the opposite, we’re forming judgments quicker and are growing more insensitive.
Of course, as with most things, it’s not black and white. False praise and sugarcoated dialogue can be just as detrimental in ones growth – it can cause similar harm. But again, there is a difference between being constructive with your opinions and being rude or being a “troll” as the kids say. I don’t like when people are bullies. Does that make me too sensitive? I don’t like when people are rude. Does that make me too sensitive? This sounds like some kind of campaign put together by all the bullies in the world – the “Justice League of Bullies”, if you will.
And there are much bigger issues at hand…
Oppression, racism, sexism, ageism, body-shaming, these have all been brought up in recent media coverage ranging from the Baltimore Riots to “Meninist” Twitter accounts to the recent situation with Maggie Gyllenhall, and more. Let’s not kid ourselves, these happen every day and are often (sadly) rationalized with “Can’t you take a joke?” or “Why are you so easily offended?” or “You’re being too sensitive.” Is that what we want? Is it really the so-called attacker’s call to decide what should be taken as a joke or what is or isn’t offensive?
Because we have been witness to an era of activism, I believe people are commonly mistaking standing up for oneself with being overly sensitive. There is a difference. Advocating for yourself DOESN’T make you a baby. It’s not a case of sensitivity when it boils down to deserving equal rights or being treated like a human being or, perhaps on a smaller level, just not being bullied.
So, no, society isn’t hypersensitive. Certain people are simply growing more insensitive, amplifying their thoughts through various platforms, and then reacting negatively to those who are standing up for themselves, for their lifestyle, and for their overall happiness.
It comes down to humanitarianism. Be respectful. Be honest. Be fair.