Well, nobody’s perfect. As much as every guy tries to be James Bond or Don Draper, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of us fall woefully short.
What am I talking about? Of course, I’m talking about microaggressions. If you don’t know, here’s the definition:
Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
The classic microaggression that I’ve encountered in my life is the classic Where are you from? question. People have asked me that and I’ve responded with Los Angeles only to see utter disappointment in their faces when I don’t tell them that I’m from the Ching-Chong Orient. Sorry, fellas.
But what I really want to comment on is how everything is a microaggression nowadays. You really can’t say anything in the workplace anymore without fear of someone being offended by what you say.
This year, our company holiday party is being held at a Mexican restaurant. The holiday committee decided to make flyers for the party, which included silhouettes of people wearing sombreros, to which some people said, Nope, can’t do that. Microaggression.
I guess if you really think about it, I can see someone being offended by it. But that’s the thing; since when did it become necessary to really sit down and decide if anyone can be offended by the slightest detail of a party flyer?
A few months ago, our team in the office went out to lunch. We chose a nearby Korean restaurant. One female coworker ordered the oxtail soup. When her soup was placed on the table, she started laughing at her entree because it smelled funny. For a moment, I took her amusement as a mockery of my ethnic background and culture. I don’t hit women (I don’t hit anyone, for that matter) but I knocked her out, in my mind.
What I wonder is, would I have even flinched at all if we didn’t live in a world that catered to every sensitive soul? Have we as a society been conditioned to interpret anything and everything as a slight? Are we teaching future generations to take every comment as throwing shade at someone? Are we soft?
In reality, that hostility I felt towards my coworker lasted about 30 seconds. Why? Because I didn’t dwell on it, and that’s what may the problem with everything. If the ignoramous that asks me Where I’m from from is too lazy and dumb to know the difference between Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, or American-born Asians, then why trip over anything he/she says?
I get being sensitive to others, but what we really can control is our emotions and reactions. If we all became a little less reactionary to every little word spoken about us, then perhaps society wouldn’t be caught in this web of microaggressions.
But we all know that’s not happening. So tread lightly people, because we’re all sensitive nowadays.