An article popped up on my homepage yesterday entitled What Not to Say to Someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Several people close to me have RA so I clicked on it. It was ridiculous. Curious why someone would write such a stupid list, I googled “what not to say…” and the results were unbelievable. Not two million, but two billion seven hundred and seventy million helpful hits on how not to offend just about anyone.
What not to say to someone who is grieving, to someone who is unemployed, to your boss, to a woman, man, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, parent, or co-worker. To a military wife, a veteran, a parent of a Down syndrome baby. To a pregnant woman, a woman in labor, a woman who just had a miscarriage, a woman who had a C-section, a stay-at-home mom, or to “someone who is struggling with infertility.” To a childless couple, whatever that means. To an immigration officer, your insurer, a person with a non-visable disability, a victim of sexual assault, a thyroid patient, a blind person. What not to say in text messages, to someone trying to quit smoking, a marathoner, a Marine. To people in distress, with eating disorders, with diabetes. To veterans, new college graduates, lesbians, or an Amish farmer. The list is endless and covers just about any situation where you might make the massive mistake of opening your mouth. It’s bad enough that political correctness has taken over the western world, now we have to worry about what not to say to someone with allergies.
Every interaction starts with a sentence, and yes, it might be the wrong sentence. That’s how we learn new stuff, and choose who we’d like to get to know—or not. Are we all that clueless that we need two billion articles to tell us what not to say? Are we that hypersensitive that we can’t endure an awkward but curious or well-meaning remark? Do people who consistently say insensitive things ever read articles on what not to say, or do thin-skinned people read these articles to find out how they too can be offended? I better check to see if I have some affliction I can be indignant about. Hmm, how about migraines? My first husband once told me I got migraines on purpose just to ruin his day. There. Don’t say that. Thirty years later I’m still annoyed.
These articles are not intended for flamers, trolls, or miserable shitheads who provoke you deliberately online or in life. They’re for regular folks who are deathly afraid of saying the wrong thing, and I find that pathetic. Why not use some common sense, and have a conversation?