Handbooks to Make Your Life Harder Available Now

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?


24 responses to “Handbooks to Make Your Life Harder Available Now

  1. This is just incredible to me. Common sense is no longer an acceptable part of our world and that makes me very angry. That is definitely one list I’m not going to read. What not to say kind of goes along with zero tolerance. A child takes a small boy scout knife to school for show and tell and gets expelled. Give me a break. And yet this is the world we have to live in. I try to live my life and say things like I would want to be treated and also talked to. That Golden Rule thing. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    • Hi Sandie, it blows the mind, doesn’t it. Homo sapiens have been living for about 200,000 years without guides to what not to say, and now that we have them online are things any better? NO. You got it—the Golden Rule is the most elementary, straightforward, and instinctive guide we can abide by. And if someone makes a mistake out of lack of knowledge on the subject, curiosity, or just plain clumsiness, then there’s your chance to set them right instead of having a hissy fit. I live my life asking ungainly questions. People love to answer if they can because it give them a chance to explain. Thanks for writing.

  2. I’ll bet this book would be good for some laughs if nothing else. A marathoner??? What on earth could one say that would offend a marathoner? “Hey, why a wussy 26.2 miles when some people run 50 and 100 miles” maybe? Look, there are certain phrases I won’t tolerate, “senior moment” being one, “inner beauty” another, and the next person to tell me what a beautiful person I am INSIDE is in danger of being vivisected on the spot. I do believe some things need to have the light shone on them. But reading a book like this would probably render us all silent. I like the overweight women’s organization and dance company (yes, dance company!) that calls itself “Fat? So?” The same with Jayne Williams, author of “Slow Fat Triathlete” who proudly claims the word ‘fat” and can whup lots of people’s butts in her sport. Again, I think some degree of sensitivity is good, but not when it’s fanatic and in danger of making us all mute.

    • Hi Ann, they’re not exactly books, just articles and lists. I refused to read any of them except for the RA one so I don’t know or care what they say. The thing is, people who say stuff like “senior moment” don’t know they’re being offensive, they just think it’s funny and if we don’t maintain our sense of humor we’re screwed.

      Someday we won’t be able to say “fire retardant” because it has the root word “retard” in it. Someday our glorious language will be labeled offensive or obsolete.

      You can’t learn sensitivity from a list, which is why these articles are so witless.

  3. Well Darlin – These lists of what not to say or what to say stem partly from people who fall into the trap of the Dumbing Down of America. There is not nearly as much human face-to-face type interaction in the last couple decades because the media was there to say what we wanted to say to someone else – that way all we had to say is “that’s how I feel too” – which of course was subject to change when the next media outlay proved why it was wrong, or telling us we need to be politically correct when we voice our opinion to others who may take offense to what was said.

    Today, so many people really don’t know how to ‘Talk’ to another person – They do rely on the media to tell them what they should say or as you’re writing about – what they shouldn’t say. This way, there is little discourse among people, thereby creating huge numbers of allies on almost any subject. What good little boys and girls we’ve become ……. Always wanting to say the right thing – which is not always the truth. Almost seems like a methodical destruction and purposeful elimination of the means by which a society educates and enlightens itself.

    Cowboy says what he means and means what he says….

    • Cowboy you hit it. The elimination of the means by which a society educates itself. Fear of offending causes people to stop seeking the truth and leaves us cowering in shame. Who is this ‘force’ trying to do this? Who is putting this giant gag order on us? Who? Why? I already see the “how.” I long for spirited conversation, to ask and be asked direct questions. I don’t mind one bit when people disagree with me, it’s the way they do it—with indignation and fury—even when they don’t have the facts and don’t want them. If I’m the one who doesn’t have the facts, then inform me, convince me, impress me.

      It does seem methodical, you can watch the PC force grow stronger each year, and yes its targets are subject to change. It is largely due to the media, but who are these people and why are they so influential? Who gave this machine the supreme power to decide what we can and cannot say? Is that freedom?

      • Darlin – Your questions are all valid and deserve a genuine answer—now, if only someone would provide it.

        I guess calling it a “machine” is appropriate—no one really understands how it works though. We live in the greatest country in the world with freedoms that people in other countries seek and admire. Part of the problem with our freedom is that we are subject to controls by private entities—i.e; when we post on a website that doesn’t belong to us, we are not free to post what we desire. (Control ?) It’s said we have freedom of press—but we can’t go to any media source asking them to publish what we would like them to… (Control ?) The media controls our free speech—but the Government and politicians control the media—and we go ’round and ’round until we either change our opinions or accept and move on to the next battle.

        I would uphold the beliefs and freedoms of this country at any cost—but are people becoming “Stepford wives”?

        Now I have a headache – so CIAO Bella for now – great post with many great questions.


    When words have failed me as in the death of a friend’s grandson I said nothing but just gave her a hug.
    As for these PC morons…don’t even go there; they look into every comment and twist it into either a racial slur, gay insult blah blah blah. God I just wish someone would call me fat instead of politely asking if my clothes had shrunk. grrrrr.

    • Piglet you are so funny. The thing is that political correctness doesn’t work—it compels people to rebel in other ways, like posting anonymous abusive comments, etc., because they have to shut up all day at their soul-sucking jobs—then they get online and let the insults rip.

      No one should go through their day humiliating people. That’s aggression. But being overly-polite is passive-aggressive. It’s smug. It’s like saying you think people are so delicate or unstable or weak they can’t deal with an honest remark. If someone really is that lame, run, because you’re not going to be able to talk to them anyway no matter what you say. Good to hear from you.

  5. Know what, I don’t give a sh-t what I’m not supposed to say to someone… period. See, I even censored my own comment. Well, sort of. Most anyway can figure out what word I was using, but it’s considered polite to take the “i” out, or the “uc” or whatever vowel that applies.

    When I read this post, I almost thought it was supposed to be funny and then I realized you were pointing out that we really have lists of things not to say. Well, I won’t be reading them.

    I spoke to a woman this morning (I was going to say lady, but that would have been the wrong word, my WordPress spellchecker will tell me that) who hit a deer on her Harley yesterday morning on the way to Susanville. Why I spoke to her is really not important, but I asked some questions that might have been inappropriate in someone’s PC mind. Like, “How is the bike?” She’s okay, and was on some pain killers when I talked to her on the phone, but I’m sure it would be on the list of things not to say to someone who just hit a deer with a motorcycle at 50 miles per hour.

    Good thought provoking post.

    • Leonard, I would have asked the same thing. In fact, I would have asked for all the details. We should all be more inquiring, otherwise we only get part of the story. If a question seems inappropriate, well life is fucking inappropriate. It’s disorderly and sordid and painful, and verbal evasion won’t make it less so.

      I think we can figure out our own questions and comments in life unless we allow ourselves to become brainwashed. The only “what not to say” information I would seek would be from a lawyer. Thanks for writing and for your story.

  6. Who would have thought that there would be that much information available on simply not saying things that could offend the easily offended. There are times where stupid shit has come out of my mouth, but the way I see it is that if you are truly a friend you will understand that my brain farts do not discriminate, and if they are one of those who enjoy holding a grudge over something that was not intended to be hurtful well then…not my problem. Great post! It is both humorous and insightful. I may just have to google this as well – don’t want to go saying anything wrong especially to those with allergies…lol

    • Hi Fresh, it’s shocking and scary. There’s not one person on earth who always has the right words, that is an impossibility. What are we supposed to do, print out all these lists and carry them around in case we encounter a person who is depressed or whatever? Uh, hold on while I check my giant accordion file in the back seat of my car. Shit, I’m depressed—and welcome all comments and suggestions. People should appreciate that someone cares enough to at least try. Thanks for writing!

  7. We live in an age of glorified stupidity; there was actually a Discovery program on the nature of stupidity, and why we truly seem to be growing dumber every day. Political correctness is a misnomer: in my opinion saying nuclear war WITHOUT calling it fucking nuclear war, is politically incorrect. What should you say to someone with arthritis? Hey, I’ve got a ton of non-adult-proof pill bottles you can have. See, when we were kids, people realized that making opening something a challenge was far too akin to giving a kid a dare, so a skull and crossbones sufficed. When I was very young I took some pills of my mother’s that were speckled in all the colors of the rainbow. I didn’t take them all, kids used to know that if you take all of something, there’d be nothing left—it turns out to have been a “fun” drug and I enjoyed it. I didn’t take any more, because my mother would have noticed. Ideally, a drug company shouldn’t make a pill look like candy. We have a real problem with logic these days: there’s a concept called “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”. It means placing the effect before the cause…asking a horse to push a cart only proves that the dumb animal present ain’t the horse. Quote of the day: ” I don’t like country music, but I never disparage those who do. Oh, for those who like country music, disparage means think less of them.” —Bob Newhart. Today, the 18th, is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. In honor of him, do something nice for someone, or forgive ’em for something.

    • Hi Joel, I’m not surprised there are studies on the world’s increasing lack of awareness (that’s the PC term) but better known as stupidity. There’s a new violation of our freedom on the internet called the filter bubble—you may already know about it—it’s personalized search information displayed to the user by major websites gathered by analyzing what the user searches for, thereby decreasing exposure to alternative viewpoints. Many major brands such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Huffington Post, etc., employ filter bubbles with the user’s personal information, giving users less control over what they see rather than more. All this does is continually reinforce what the user already believes. I see it in use on my homepage—and didn’t ask for it. There is an anti-filter bubble movement, thank goodness, but don’t expect much. They’re watching us all.

  8. Whew! Sorry to be the “11th juror” on this thought-provoking post, but you know I stand in the middleground on the PC topic. I saw a lengthy article on Yahoo about Boomers beginning to take down the words “senior” and “elderly.” What the hell took them so long, it made my day. As to “senior moment,” yes, it’s humorous but it also insults my compos mentis, which I will stack against anybody’s except in matters of math and numbers. The brain, like any other part of the body, can be worked, fed and strengthened. The problem with words, which are more powerful than sticks or stones, is that they tend to hypnotize and brainwash. I’m a hard-shelled agnostic but the Bible does say that the power of life and death are in the spoken word. I do believe that, but at the same time I think even the Bible can be overquoted and carried to extremes.

  9. The funniest part of this is that people fall into more than one of those categories. I fall into several. So, to speak to me, you’ll have to compile several of those lists, and many more that aren’t listed. Maybe it’s easier not to speak to me at all! LOL

    And yes, getting this advice from the internet is insincere and false. If you have to memorize a list of what not to say to your boss, then don’t bother. Just be ready to get written up. Or fired. And when you do, take it like a man. Whoops. Guess that phrase is un-PC.

    We must be living in the Age of Sensitivity. Some people are so quick to be offended, sometimes I wonder if they get off on it. I think a lot do – it’s a power trip to be offended.

    We had to participate in mandatory “diversity training” at work a few weeks ago. We had to team off and do a role playing exercise. One role was supposed to be offended at a racial comment the other role said. At the end of the exercise, we were supposed to discuss with the group what understanding we came to. I said aloud to the room, “Why can’t we just have a sense of humor?” You should have heard the silence. The instructors were baffled. And the irony of the situation is, the racial comment wasn’t even that bad. They were even afraid to use a real racial slur in the exercise! They were afraid to be non-PC about being non-PC! I left the training wondering what this world is coming to. Then I re-joined my real team, and we continued our daily good-natured bashing of each other’s race, gender, and beliefs. And we get along better and work better than anyone here.

    • Hi Kay, as we discuss this it becomes more and more ridiculous. Of course we’re all in a position to be offended by something. So man up and get over it! I guess “diversity training’ is de rigeur now. One day soon we’ll be the best-trained nation of bears in the universe as the media stands over us with a whip and the Internet.

      I think racial slurs have been beaten out of us long ago (and good riddance) which is why your group couldn’t bring themselves to spit one out. But the lengths it has been taken does more harm than good. Yet it’s still perfectly acceptable to make fun of white Christians—comedians do it all the time.

  10. I would have answered this post before, Debra, but I was so busy scouring the internet to find the PC thing to say I just had no time! 🙂 Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

    I hear what you are saying and do find it sad that some people feel awkward and don’t know what to do or say in certain situations. I have to admit, though, that I feel worse for them than I do for those of us who can’t understand why and get frustrated seeing all those ‘what to say to someone who….’ articles.
    As always, your post is thought provoking. Hope life is getting a bit better for you. I know you are tolerating a lot right now!

    • Hi Char, I get what you’re saying. I feel bad for everybody and nobody. But these articles are trash, I tells ya, trash. Imagine being told, for instance, that “let me know if I can do anything” is something NOT to say to someone with RA. The article says you shouldn’t say this because “it can be difficult for someone to ask for assistance on top of controlling RA.” Instead, you’re supposed to offer specific help, such as grocery shopping, because simply offering to help “puts the burden on the patient to fulfill.” Yes that’s a direct quote!

      This is INSANE. These articles are making fools of all humanity. But the worst part is that someone who may have wanted to be helpful now won’t because they’ll be too scared they’ll say the wrong thing. Better to clumsily offer help than do nothing. Now that I think about it, these types of articles can actually do damage. I can’t believe this RA article was deemed good enough to be put on a Google homepage. I wish I never clicked on it, now Google’s calculating little algorithms will take note and give me more!

      Arrggghh. Nah, life isn’t much better but I’ve stop crying and am back to being just pissed off. I guess that’s better! Thanks for writing Char! I guess my response isn’t very PC…I’m sawry…

  11. Common sense…something that seems out of fashion in today’s “google it” world. I’m inclined to think if my gut instinct is trying to tell me something, I go with it. Of course I’ve had errors in judgment, but hey…that’s life, I’m human. Lesson learned. Move on. 😉

  12. I think those articles were written by all the Marines, childless couples, allergenics, and immigration officers who got fed up one day and decided to tell everyone off with an article about “How Not To Offend Me.” I don’t think those 2 billion articles are really intended to be required reading for every citizen of the world..

    • I think they meant how to get across a border without saying something stupid to an immigration officer that would cause suspicion. But most articles are about not offending someone, god forbid you should let something slip in curiosity or directness that could result in the ridiculously easily offended person stalking off in a huff, hating you forever, or giving you a beating. It’s all part of our vulgar yet PC culture. We are constantly being made to apologize for simply having a question—making honest communication nearly nonexistent. It’s all about fear.

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