Offend Much? | Giftie Etcetera: Offend Much?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Offend Much?

I offended someone on a message board that I post on. It's a pregnancy board. The woman had a complaint about a pain she was having. Someone else rated the post 3 stars out of 5 possible stars. No other posts were rated, and since she got 3 stars, and not a negative rating of 1 star or a positive rating of 5 stars, I figured a person had just accidentally rated the post (easy enough to do on this particular message board). So I made a comment about how it was funny that someone would give any stars at all for a post about pain. Obviously, pain wasn't positive (I'm pregnant, and it sucks). But the accidental post of stars was ironic.

Maybe I didn't communicate what was funny appropriately. Or, maybe, the person was just having a really bad day. Whatever it was, the poster called me "small minded" and said I was mocking her pain.


Of course, it doesn't matter what some stranger on a message board thinks. I don't value this woman's opinion at all, so she can consider me a small minded whatever, and it doesn't bother me a bit.

But what about when you totally don't mean something in an offensive way, but the person is ACTUALLY offended (as opposed to just argumentative). Should you apologize? Or does an apology somehow suggest that you did intend the offense, and therefore make the offended person feel worse? I never know the answer to that question. And, clearly, I talk enough that, on occasion, I offend, even when what I was actually trying to say would not have been offesnive at all.

I'll probably offend my MIL this weekend, when I tell her that she needs to stay with my mom or get a hotel when the baby is born. It shouldn't be offensive. We want her here. We want her to visit and share in the joy and bond with her grandkids. We just don't want the extra stress of a houseguest, after the horrible time I had last time, exhausted and ending up in the hospital. I don't intend to offend, and saying "hey, this one time in this special situation, we need our home to ourselves" shouldn't be offensive. And if she is offended, I clearly cannot apologize, or she'll think that I am thinking what she probably is thinkging, that she is not welcome, which is NOT AT ALL what I am thinking. I am thinking that I need to focus on my children and breastfeeding and recovery and I don't want to be in the hospital again, just because I cannot rest enough. I'm thinking that not having someone (anyone, including my own mom) stay over will help me, because of the way I am. So there will be no apology. Just a statement of what will happen. But there might be tears...hers, not mine. I sincerely hope not.



Stac Cole said...

Are you going to send Ander to your mom's during the day? I don't know what your initial plans are, but it may be helpful if MIL spends the nights at your house and then takes Ander off during the day to visit your mom??

Alternatively, I offer up my house as a place for her to stay. It's not nearly as far as your moms, we won't be home much since it's the height of football season. although she probably wouldn't be comfortable there, it would be better than a hotel room :)

Mamaebeth said...

what would you do if you accidently hurt someone physically?

i don't intentionally bump into people or step on their toes, but it does happen and i apologize.
if i offend someone, i try to apologize for it if i know about it.

elle said...

I think your reasoning is good--what if you explain it to your MIL in the kindest terms?

Frog said...

I wouldn't worry about the pregnancy board. As for your MIL, you have to do what's best for you and your family. She can stay close by and visit. A few tears may be shed but it will work out!

Beorn said...

I give this post four-and-a-half stars. The griping was well-executed, and your exasperation over the MIL situation was beautifully explained and articulated in such a way that one cannot help but sympathize with your plight. Quite obviously, you're a blog auteur, and these days it's refreshing to see someone avoid a slip into more postmodern approaches when covering such angst-ridden subject matter.

Also, I think that rating personal blog posts or giving "kudos" for them is stupid to begin with.

Brien Louque said...

If I feel that I did nothing wrong at all, I won't apologize in the strictest sense - I may offer some olive branch such as "I'm sorry that you feel that way" because I am sorry that that person feels that way, but note that in that instance I'm not apologizing for my actions. I will apologize if someone misinterprets something I've said or did, but it will be in the form of "I'm sorry if that's what you thought I meant, but...." I don't see these as weazling out - I just think that anytime you say you're sorry, you are trying to explain what happened from your perspective. It may not be a very good explanation, but it helps to let the other person know that you did not intend to offend, or if you did why you did so. On the other hand, in cases where someone is upset with me and I haven't done anything that I feel could be misinterpreted, I will not apologize in any way - there's nothing for me to explain, so an apology just doesn't work for me.