I walked into our local comedy club, and mixed in with the promotions that they project before the show, was a disclaimer that the views that are expressed by the comedians do not reflect the opinions of the staff and owners of the club. A local comedian walked up to me shortly after and said, “You see that! These audiences are so damn sensitive now.” That got me thinking: Are people more sensitive or is there something else at play here. Here is my hypothesis.
I will try as best as I can to explain that audiences are not more easily offended, or not more offended then they have always been. I think there are a couple of factors at play here that make it easier to upset someone. Let’s think about technology for now. Social media has made it so you can join people who have shared your experiences all over the world. Now, we are able to hear the voices of those that usually have their voices silenced. Now you can see police brutality and recounts of bullying and sexual assault. Before technology these marginalized groups were looked as as complainers or people that added to their own suffering. Now that you can find people who have had the same experiences as you, those voices become louder and can actually be heard and push things forward as far as trying to correct the ills of society.
So now you can see all of these groups of people getting victimized. If that is the case then there are people that are doing the harm. If women want to get paid as much as men, then there are men that are holding them down. That leaves a group of people looking like the bad guys. Now I don’t know if this was started by corporations or politicians, but someone figured they can use this to their benefit. So then these non marginalized groups started coming out saying that they are getting victimized as well, but by the very people that were accusing them! That is how you end up with men’s rights activist and sayings like white genocide. If you are still following (I hope I did a good job of getting this across), then that means you have a lot of people that feel like they are being attacked, even if it is bullshit. If you believe men are getting their identity taken by women, then when you spot a glimpse of someone attacking your side you will want to get upset. It is easier for these groups to be “offended” then it is for them to explain away why things are the way they are. If you claim to be offended by what someone said about police on stage, then you don’t have to explain why black’s are more likely to be shot (on average) then any other group of people getting arrested.
Another factor that plays into this is that because social media has given everyone a voice, everyone thinks their voice and opinions are as important or valid as everyone else’s. This leads you down a rabbit hole where even things on the fringes before get held up the same as the valid. Here is an example. If you believe in a flat earth, you had only your friends to bother…until the internet let you scream it at every opportunity. If you also see your ramblings about ice mountains on the edge of the earth right along side valid scientifically proven things you start to see yourself as not a lunatic, but someone who is being victimized. So, when you go to a comedy show and listen to a comedian talk about how silly your beliefs are, then you get upset!
Comedy clubs usually serve a vast number of people with different beliefs and different experiences. I think because of technology and social media, a lot of people want to be seen as victims even if they aren’t, so they can avoid or minimize the harm caused to others. Humans are not that good at changing strongly held beliefs and we will defend them even if it make no sense to do so. Instead of coming to terms with how we contribute to certain wrongs in the world, a lot of us would rather feign being one of the harmed so as to keep on believing what we do. That is why their seems to be more people walking out of shows and complaining after shows. I think all of us know when we are just clinging on to something because we belief it is what makes us. I just think most of us are comfortable doing nothing about looking within.