It’s become quite popular for people to identify as a victim. Of course, real suffering and victimhood exists and is unfortunately the situation for a great many. However, there are also a lot of “victims” whose suffering is mostly self-inflicted. Discerning the difference is important if we are to have interactions based on reality and facts.
There are also those who have been truly victimized it he past, but refuse to heal, using their victimization as a manipulative tool for attention and social leverage. There’s big money in victimhood if you know how to market it well.
The problem isn’t so much people identifying as victims as it is people using their victimhood as a weapon, thereby victimizing others. Many treat suffering as a contest. The thing to remember is that whenever you meet someone, you have no idea what they have endured. That they are not talking about their experiences, or that they seem to have their life together doesn’t mean they haven’t suffered intensely. They may have a daily struggle to maintain an appearance of normalcy, or they may have done the hard work of processing and dealing with their trauma and identify as a survivor, not a victim.
They may have suffered worse than you, even if your own victimization was intense and prolonged. You just don’t know.
Many of those who have suffered greatly will openly joke about their own suffering and aren’t bothered by other people’s jokes about it. This is often because, after the actual suffering they’ve endured, mere words can’t possibly affect them. They’ve been through far worse.
Some will get offended if you try to treat them gently or are too politically correct because they feel they are being treated as if they are weak and need to be mollycoddled. People with a dark, twisted and extremely “offensive” sense of humor are often those who have endured a ton of abuse. They can laugh at anything because no joke can possibly be as bad as what they’ve already been through.
Stand-up comics aren’t generally known for being a happy and well-adjusted lot.
No matter what we’ve been through, it is our individual responsibility to choose how we respond when we encounter things that trigger emotional responses. It’s unethical for us to expect the rest of the world to adjust their expressions to avoid the possibility that we might be triggered by them.
How can all the ways we might be affected possibly be taken into account? If we had trigger warnings for all the things different people could be triggered by, every expression would require a trigger warning.
Our emotional state is our personal responsibility, not anyone else’s. When we get triggered by something, we have to deal with that by using whatever coping mechanisms we have, as long as we don’t disturb others.
For instance, if you are in a theater watching a movie and a scene triggers you and your method of coping is to scream, it would be better to go outside and scream rather than disturb, startle, and possibly trigger others. No one is entitled to having public things modified to suit their personal comfort one.
Every year in the U.S., on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, many combat veterans suffer silently as fireworks and gunshots fill the air, bringing them back to horrors that overwhelm them. They don’t ask everyone else to refrain from their celebrations. They just have a really bad night and deal with it.
Those who expect the rest of the world to tiptoe around their triggers forget an important truth. This may be hard to hear and may sound callous, but it’s reality: No one is entitled to never suffer or be offended. Life is guaranteed to contain suffering and offense of various kinds for everyone.
However, this doesn’t mean we should just say or do whatever, whenever. We should be free to express ourselves freely and openly, yet we should also not intentionally be a dick. As in all things, there is a balance.