There is a common notion among people about how someone being easily offended is an indication that they just can’t control their emotions. While this is true, another dynamic is being overlooked. When someone gets offended about something you said, what they are really doing is subconsciously signalling their perceived higher status, as the ability to be easily offended and be taken seriously is a privilege only high-status people can possess.
Although one occasion of being offended doesn’t say much, if this trend continues, that person will eventually have solidified their superior status over you in a social hierarchy. And it will show as you are limited on what you can say while there is no limit to what the easily offended person says. If this is just one person, you can disassociate with them; if this is a trend in society, then it becomes a problem.
In feudal times, it was always the aristocrats who were the thin-skinned ones, in comparison to the peasants, who were used to grovelling to their landowners, lest they want to be thrown in the gallows. Aristocrats needed to be easily offended to justify them owning all the land. If you could bring into question their social status without retribution, do they really care that much about maintaining their privileged position in society?
This sort of lax attitude would indicate to a separatist faction that an insurrection to overthrow their rule would be advantageous. Unconsciously, aristocrats gained the easily offended personality type to signal to all the peasants that they are and will always be high-status. They cared about maintaining their high-status so much that they’d challenge anyone to a death match (duel) if they disrespected their honour.
We don’t live in feudal societies anymore, but a great example of this offence-taking being a form of status-signalling is in secondary schools. Good teachers will be personally offended if the students break one of their classroom rules, as students not following the teacher’s rules is an attack on their high-status in the classroom.
Although many students may not have realised this, the act of breaking the rules was never the issue, what they were really mad at was that they were challenging the teacher’s status. Many young teachers don’t realise this, so they don’t make an issue about students breaking the rules, and then proceed to be baffled when students don’t respect them. “I’m nice to my students, why aren’t they nice to me in return?”
80 years ago, a bishop would be high on the list of those who get easily offended, nowadays, a bishop would be on the bottom of the list. This makes perfect sense if you understand status-signalling. A bishop became offended because he was status-signalling that he was high-status; he could inflict punishment on that person if they disrespected him or the Church.
This ability to inflict punishment is no more as clerics are now low-status, so a bishop loses the privilege of being easily offended. In fact, priests seem to be continually denigrated as paedophiles and oppressors, in reaction to this slander, they apologise for being so mean and oppressive in the past. Even though the priest was just slandered, he acts submissively towards the person who just denigrated him because the priest has internalised his low-status.
We all know those who are not to be offend in today’s society: transsexuals, homosexuals, blacks, women etc.; the coalition of the downtrodden. If one of these groups gets offended (or an ally that gets offended on their behalf) about something you said, what they are really saying is “get back in your place, I’m higher status than you”. If you capitulate, you are agreeing with their assessment.
If you disobey their order to apologise, they will hurt you. In a social environment, they will denigrate you as a racist or a sexist and get the people around you to think twice about associating with you. They may even be nice enough to get a twitter mob after you that will harass your whole family and get you doxed. In a work environment, they will report you to HR and get you fired for creating a ‘toxic work environment’. Getting someone fired because they offended you (challenge their high-status) is raw power. Getting drunk on this raw power turns many into cry-babies, which is becoming more prevalent these days as these groups are growing in status.
The irony is that these powerful people claim to be oppressed; and the more oppressed they claim to be (disabled non-binary minority), the more easily offended they seem to be. Can what they view as the most privileged group, the infamous cis white male, exert this kind of power? Of course not. The fact that they can’t exert this form of power shows that they are low-status in today’s society. It is rarely the case that the truly oppressed take offense. The truly oppressed know better than to take offense – unless they want to get smacked down.
This offense-taking which is being used to covertly signal status is just a natural component of sociology, it shouldn’t be seen as something that needs to be stopped. Although just like all things, it should be used for good. For the good to be promoted you must make it politically incorrect for people to challenge your group’s beliefs. A simple example is to promote people getting offended if they challenge an axiom of your beliefs, and conversely, stop giving your opposition the liberty to be offended.