Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Choosing" not to be offended

I ran across another example along the theme of "Why don't you just choose not to be offended by that word"
Short answer: Because of how the hippocampus and limbic system work.
Kind of longer answer: Because the meaning of words is tied to contextual memory, identity, stories, and emotions. We can't choose which emotions to shut off without shutting all emotion off (See Brene Brown's work), And threats to Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, or Fairness (several of which will most likely be present if you are offended) are interpreted by the brain in the same way as a physical threat (See David Rock's work).
I had intended to give a MUCH longer answer unpacking all of the above. But, the summary is this - Asking someone "Why don't you just choose not to be offended" is in essence asking them either A) Override millions of years of evolutionary biology or B) Change their identity in a fundamental way by either ignoring the context in which they interpret the world, the groups they self identify with, the status with which they hold themselves, or the protections they feel for others.
So no, it's not that easy to "just choose not to be offended."