Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Skin Too Few

The other day one of my email pals told me that I have "a skin too few," which is the British way of telling me I'm thin-skinned.

That's not a compliment in today's world. People with thin skin are thought to be overly sensitive to insult and criticism. Apparently, being appalled by bad manners, crude comments, misogynistic and masochistic behaviors and immorality makes you a silly person who should develop a thick skin and get over it.

Why, though, should I develop a rind of callousness when it is so easy to be nice? What is really going on is that people want to be able to say and do what they will without worrying if they are offending anyone. And if they offend someone, they want to put it back on the person offended, not take responsibility for their own behavior.

It is easy to be nice, moral, and kind. I don't understand why people aren't. Instead they have chosen to be mean, cruel and vicious.

This has long been a problem for me, this thin skin I wear. My father in particular was always telling me to buck up, to grin and bear it, to grow a thicker hide. As if being sensitive is some crime, some aspect of my personality of which I should be ashamed.

It is the thick-skinned people who should be ashamed. They should be ashamed of their callousness, their immorality, their cruelty. But our society applauds them and denigrates those like me.

Commentators use the term "thin-skinned" to denigrate people they don't like. Conservatives use it toward progressives with great enthusiasm. Bill Maher calls Bill Clinton thin-skinned; Bill O'Reilly calls President Obama thin-skinned.

I guarantee they weren't calling those leaders "thin skinned" to be nice. Neither Maher or O'Reilly are very nice people.

However, the thin-skinned people of the world make society a better place. Because the thin-skinned people eventually say, stop making me bleed. Stop scraping away at my scabs and wounds. Eventually, someone finds the strength to say, ENOUGH, DAMN IT. And then they set about creating change so that those wounds can heal.

That's part of the social network that many people find so abhorrent these days. Social Security was put in place so that thin-skinned people could see that the elderly survived and did not live in poor houses. Unions came into being so that workers could be employed with dignity and fair wages. Thin-skinned people brought about the 40-hour work week and gave people a life outside of working for meager wages.

Thin skinned people don't accept the status quo because they know, in their hearts, that society and the world could be a better place if the thick-skinned numbskulls who want to be able to defecate in the park without offending anyone would only mind their manners and be more human and humane.

Thin skinned people are thought to be the half of the world that has trouble fitting in. A simple search will bring up lots of comments on thin-skinned people and their need for political correctness.

There's even a psychology about it. Thin-skinned folks suffer more from depression and chronic illnesses. They react more strongly to sensory stimuli (bright lights, smells). They remember more and were greatly affected by the things that happened in their childhood. They have low immune systems and allergies. (This comes from this website called Your Emotional Type. There's an online test you can take at the link that tells you how thin or thick your skin is, and this article at psychcentral.com also talks about the book and being thin-skinned.)

I think the thick-skinned people are the problem, though. Thick-skinned people need to have more empathy and sympathy for their fellow human beings. They need to be less self-absorbed and consider the world around them. They need to realize it isn't all about them and what goes on in their watermelon rinds.

They're loud mouths who want the freedom to ridicule and rub people the wrong way. But you know what? Free speech doesn't mean you have to be cruel. You think I'm P.C.? Yeah. I'm P.C. I don't think you have to be mean to be kind. I think you have to be kind to be kind. I think the world would be a better place if you over there with the thick skin would stop and think before you open your mouth. Thank goodness not everybody has thick skin. Because without us thin-skinned folks to jerk you back from the precipices, you would destroy the world.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Anita. No one seems to live by the "Golden Rule" anymore -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Everyone wants respect and consideration, yet they don't feel anyone else is worthy of the same.


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