This post may come off as sort of stream-of-consciousness. More of a few scattered thoughts than an “article.” Sorry about that, but I was just having a bit of inner dialogue that I wanted to share.
Generally, I’m not one to be offended by much.
I’ve always considered something I was told by my mother at a young age — “Take it from the source.” Most of the time whenever something possibly outrageous is said I just roll my eyes (or write a light article!) and move on. While I might not like or appreciate the humor in a joke or the purpose of a statement, I generally just shrug and walk away. While that attitude lets me be a fairly chill and relaxed individual, it also has let a lot of things I’m only now becoming aware of into my personal speech.
It’s never fun to point the finger at yourself, but I realized how much I was using words that were offensive or demeaning to people literally right next to me. Now, of course, I had no intention of malice — but that was part of the problem. I had become so desensitized to the words from hearing them in daily conversation (on TV, online, from friends, relatives, etc.) that I never even considered them twice. Keep in mind that I wasn’t using anything out of the ordinary from “regular” speech in this country (and age group, I suppose), either. I sounded just like everyone else.
It has become socially acceptable to mark things we don’t like as “gay” or “retarded” — and while it could be argued that the very definitions of these words have changed due to modern use, wasn’t it their social association with “negative” things that pushed them in that direction?
Now, I’m not blaming society here nor am I trying to claim the moral high ground. I know I didn’t really consider the impact myself, so it wouldn’t be fair to push that expectation on others — but I do think it is something that we need to think about.
I feel sort of especially close to the issue simply because I’m a gamer. It’s not really a secret that gamers aren’t really the most accepting bunch in the universe sometimes. The young male stereotype hasn’t really helped much either. Anyone who has been on Xbox Live or a game of Counter-strike can tell you the sort of audible assault that tends to go on. While I’m personally proud of a lot of things that have come out of the gaming subculture, there still is a lot of questionable stuff there.
Bringing this post back to the point, there is a whole lot of misogyny, racial and sexual epithets and just general hate amongst the benign comments. While these sorts of things have never directly bothered me, I wonder if there is some malice there? Is it just a way of speaking that is accepted in certain circles, or is there a sort of inner demon that has been constructed by society to defend various forms of privilege? Is it a method for segregation and marginalization?
I’d love to rule all of that out and say that 99% of the time that isn’t the case — but I can’t.
Sometimes even the stale jokes that get thrown around make me wonder. I can’t help but feel a modern sort of “black face” vibe going on. I’d love to believe that these terms and jokes are directed not at the “victim” but at the ridiculousness of the situation but I just can’t.
To be perfectly honest, I feel like this is a perfect segue into an article on the power of words…
Guess I know what I’ll be touching on next — for now though, I’d love to hear your opinions. Are the negative connotations of words like “gay” and “retard” important? Has the meaning just changed? Is there something malicious there? For the gamers among you, do you feel like the gaming community harbors intolerance at times toward certain groups more so than “real life?”