How To Know When To Be Offended On The Internet

We've all been there: You spot a trending article on the Internet… you read it… and it fills you with rage. But hang on a minute: Is your Internet outrage warranted? Or are you using your “RAWR, THAT IS OFFENSIVE!” feeling as an excuse to behave poorly to another human being or group of human beings? That's what Jamie Varon's flowchart “How To Know When To Be Offended On The Internet” is all about. It has some valuable lessons for us about how to exist on the Internet—and to be honest? I think it should required reading for everyone. It's important, and as an added bonus it's funny — and as we all know, the best lessons are often taught through comedy.

Let me start out by saying that the flowchart is not trying to tell you you're not allowed to feel how you feel. On the contrary; you are definitely allowed to experience those feels. What stops the chart from being a “YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO FEEL HOW YOU FEEL NOW SHUT UP” kind of thing, though, is this: It's not about squashing your outrage. It's about your behavior regarding it. When you're justifiably offended, the infographic asks you to take it a step further and use that outrage for the forces of good. And when you're not justifiably offended? Well, let's take a look at a few examples. The times the flowchart leads to the “No, you don't get to be offended” outcomes, it's for things like this:

Are you trolling and think you're actually funny, but nobody seems to get your jokes?” If yes, then: “No, you don't get to be offended. If nobody gets your jokes, it means you're not funny. You're probably just rude. Go away.”

And this:

“OK, wait. Be honest: This thing you read or saw that outraged you… did you maybe just not understand it and your default mode when you don't understand things is just to get angry?” If yes, then: “Thanks for your honesty. Here's the deal: You potentially should be offended, but you have to educate yourself first. Get some knowledge to back you up. Then, use that knowledge to make a positive impact on the world. So much better than being irrationally angry about shit you haven't taken the time to understand. Cool. Good talk, man.”

And perhaps most importantly, this:

“OK, wait. Are you a member of a privileged group trying to diminish the claims of an oppressed group? Example: Maybe you are a man who's offended that a woman is offended by something another man did and you are attempting to mansplain to her why she should not be offended.” If yes, then: “NOOOOOOO. Stop doing that! Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Although its title purports to tell us whether or not we should be offended, what the flowchart really does is hold us accountable for our behavior. And that? Is a valuable lesson, indeed. What it asks us to do is to go ahead and experience all the emotions we have whenever we read, watch, or see something on the Internet… but stop before we act and think about it for a second. Can we channel those feelings into something more productive? Something that might do a little good in this world? If yes, then put down the angry words and start thinking outside the box instead.

I'll be honest: I sometimes fall under the “Do you make money from having qualms about things?” tier. I make a point, though, of making sure that I actually mean everything I write; furthermore, I think the writing itself is important. It's how we keep conversations about important topics like body image, bullying, and basic human rights going. But I could definitely be doing more, and this chart just toally called me on it. Yes, I will keep writing about the issues I think matter. But I'm going to try from here on out to get out there in the world a little more, too: Volunteering, participating, and putting my whole self into those causes — not just my keyboard. Maybe if we all do that, we'll finally start to make the change we want to see. And that? That's worth fighting for.

Head on over to Thought Catalog to give the “How to Know When to Be Offended on the Internet” flowchart a shot yourself. Bookmark it. Learn it. Love it. We all owe it to each other to be better than we are.

Images: Giphy (3)