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Over the weekend, I was reminded yet again that our world has become overly sensitive. I've been well aware of that for years, but was mostly able to avoid it in my down time. Until Friday.

One of the ways I relax is by playing a few games on my iPad. For about a year, I've been playing with a guild on the Ravenhill hidden objects game, and we've gotten pretty good, coming in eighth place in the highest league the last couple of weeks. We've weathered troubles and tragedies, and in the process we've become a family of sorts, with all the good-natured ribbing and occasional spats that implies.

While I'm still not quite sure what happened, it appeared something said in jest was taken the wrong way and, in the end, our guild administrator, a kind, funny and usually understanding former police inspector, left and joined another guild. It wasn't until late Sunday that an explanation came from a member who'd spoken to him, saying he was spending too much time in the game, needed to step back and that he knew he couldn't do it with our guild because we were so close.

OK, that I get, because as much as you may love your family, there are times when you just want to tell them to take a flying leap but you don't because you don't want drama. But c'mon, man, none of the rest of us speak enough French to converse with our two French members (de rien, merci and allons y can only take you so far). Make that one; one just quit. Sigh.

Things like that make it hard to escape the stresses of a life with people who refuse to accept reality (I'm beginning to see the need to use the redundant "actual reality" since so many seem to construct their own realities), as well as people who are offended if someone of the perceived "other" tribe so much as glances their way accidentally.

We live in a time when simple politeness (you know, what your mama taught you) or standing up against maltreatment is ridiculed as "political correctness," and each side calls the other "snowflakes" for exhibiting the same behavior they do when it's one of their pet causes, and then becomes obsessed with "owning" the other side, setting out to offend--on purpose--as many people as possible.

Really? This is adult behavior?

Why not just admit to being jerks who want to use their right of free speech to degrade everyone and everything with which you don't agree, all to get a reaction so you can accuse the other side of being too sensitive? Oh, sorry ... did I give up the game?

Political correctness isn't innocent, though, as it can go to extremes (anything can, and does); it's impossible to completely sanitize speech, actions, etc., so as not to offend anyone for the simple reason that someone will always be offended by something, even adorable puppies and kittens. As much as I don't like to quote Taylor Swift, if the slightest thing upsets you, "You need to calm down."

Dang it. I really don't like quoting Taylor Swift. Heads will roll.

I long for the days when we could agree on basic things--that name-calling isn't something serious adults do, that patriotism means standing for your country rather than a party or person, or reality in general.

I really miss that last one. The way it is now makes it hard to get far in many conversations when the participants can't agree on what is factual and not just what you believe happened (sure, we all watched as it was happening, but go on and believe that was fake news). There's been entirely too much of that lately for my taste.

I want to get back to dealing with people without the suspicion that they're just trying to wind me up because they don't agree with me and want me to be "triggered." I want to do what my mama taught me.

Anarcho-capitalist Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University, proposed in 2017 on his EconLog blog at the Library of Economics and Liberty website that the solution to political correctness and the trolling that inevitably follows is simply good manners.

"Every child knows the basics of politeness," he wrote. "Talk nicely. Don't yell. Don't call names. Listen and respond to what people literally say. Don't personally insult people. Don't take generalizations personally. If someone's meaning is unclear, don't put words [in] his mouth; ask him to clarify. And of course, don't escalate. If someone's impolite, the polite response is to end the conversation, not respond in kind.

"Isn't this just 'tone policing'? Sure. People can and should comport themselves like ladies and gentlemen. You can fairly criticize Social Justice Warriors for one-sided tone policing--their failure to police their own tone. And you can fairly criticize them for acting as if there's no polite way to reject their views. But proper tone policing is what makes conversation productive and pleasant. (And of course, the more pleasant conversation is, the more we're likely to constructively converse)."

Can you imagine that? Actual constructive conversation?

It might even happen in families, including those linked only by the Internet. Come home, Inspector Luke.

------------v------------

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com.

Editorial on 02/05/2020

Print Headline: Just calm down

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