When is it ok to take offence?

People seem to get offended by all sorts of things. As I was cycling to school today an old man shouted at me from a beat-up old van to get off the pavement. Then he stopped to take my photo. I’m not really sure what he plans to do with my photo. Perhaps he’ll write a blog post and put it on his blog? I preferred the guy who whistled at me yesterday to one who shouted at me today.

I knew it would happen eventually but it still made me feel bad. I felt bad about myself; like I was doing something wrong. After all, most of us just want to do the right thing. But I’ll get over it and will continue to cycle on the pavement most of the time as there’s just no-where else to cycle. I’m very careful when I cycle past pedestrians.

Recently lots of people were offended by a shirt with pictures of sexy women on it; while others are offended by swear words, nudity, gay marriage, the word denier, and even compliments. This has got me thinking about what it means to be offended. Typically we feel offended when someone insults us. But what if someone says they’re offended by something that is not intended as an insult and which we don’t view as offensive ourselves? There has to be a point where we just accept that we’re not going to please everyone and to just get on with our own lives as best we can. If we tried to please everyone we probably wouldn’t succeed and we’d only end up making ourselves miserable.

Update: I was wrong; it is illegal to cycle on the pavement in the UK.