Dear Aggressively Hypersensitive Victims, Shaming Others Does Not Help Your Cause

Posted on April 25, 2016


I’m tired of aggressively hypersensitive victims acting as if the whole world has to stop and change the way they live, laugh, and relate.

Saturday Night Live is not exactly known as a bastion of gentle humor.  It is crass and stupid and cutting and spot-on and hilarious and fun.  So, it should not have surprised anyone that they recently featured a skit for the fictional  “Heroin AM,” the non-drowsy version for users who want to get jacked but “still get stuff done.”

Well, here we go.  Mothers and other relatives of addicts – including an organization that supports those who have lost a loved one to addiction – raised the hue and cry, and took to their keyboards to shrilly demand an apology.  They think it’s “about as funny as genocide,” and “disgusting.”

Okay, I’ll say what no one else wants to openly admit:  even though YOU have had a personal tragedy, people are still going to laugh about all kinds of things – including that thing that traumatized you.

People, get a grip.  Humor is precisely how human beings deal with scary and sad and outrageous things.  It is a way of confronting fears and putting them in perspective, a way of coping with anger, fear, outrage, or disgust – especially in situations where we are otherwise helpless to change things.  There is a thing called satire. And you know what? The SNL skit did folks a favor by raising awareness.  It wasn’t about street addicts, it was about something far more insidious: the over-prescription of powerful, addictive and debilitating drugs straight from your doctor.  As CNN points out, we are a nation of so much over-prescription of opioid medicines that  “Super Bowl audiences were treated to a cutesy ad for opioid-induced constipation.”  How about getting outraged about that instead?

And then, there is Cheryl Burke, who was on Dancing With the Stars.  Apparently she did not enjoy her partner, and said working with him “made me want to slit my wrists.”  Yep, here we go again.  She was the target of a social-media backlash, not for dissing her partner, but for “trivializing suicide.”  She later apologized, saying, “I was out of line.”  Really?  I don’t think so.

Once again:  people, get a grip!  I have heard this phrase and similar ones – “Just shoot me,” (isn’t there a TV show by that name?) or “I think I’ve died and gone to hell,” come to mind – they are just darkly humorous quips expressing frustration.  They are not trivializing anything.  Lila’s family has been directly affected by suicide, but hearing people say “I want to slit my wrists,” is not directed at Lila, and is not about Lila or Lila’s family.  It’s about their exasperation in that moment.  They might also say “it’s like a sharp stick in the eye.”  Of course real eye injuries aren’t funny, but we all know what the speaker means.  Just go with it.

I am sick of people who are aggressively hypersensitive about their particular issue.  Everyone has issues, everyone has had or will have trauma in their lives.  You suffer it, you get a support group or therapist if you need to, you can take it on as your mission in life if that makes you feel like you’re helping – but the rest of us owe you nothing.

Aggression is a turnoff.  When other people are laughing and having a good time, and you burst on the scene trying to shame and embarrass people, and demand apologies, do you think you have won them to your cause?  Have you really made a point?  It’s more likely that all you really did was offend and annoy them, ruin their fun and cow them into silence or an insincere apology just to shut you up or to avoid more criticism.  After all that, how likely are they to want to help you or to care about what you have to say?  …  Not much.