There are two conflicting ideas about being offended: the first is that one should be respectful and not insult others, and the second is that one should have a “thick skin” and not allow such simple things to affect them. In reality, both of these things are two, and they are actually not conflicting.
The first idea is true; one should not knowingly be mean to someone else or disrespect them without a sufficiently good reason. There are many times when the reason for offending someone is justified, such as if they deserve to know some truth which they might find offensive. However, saying something mean to someone with the intent of offending or hurting them is much harder to justify and must have a result that outweighs the malice that it entails. This is much more rare, to the extent that an example that isn’t convoluted is difficult to come up with. There is no reason that one should be inconsiderate and not think of the person’s feelings. This shows a distinct lack of empathy and humanity.
The second idea is also true; when something is said, intentional or not, that could be interpreted as mean, it is one’s choice as to how to take it. This is not necessarily an easy choice for some people, as it is hard to learn to control your emotions and the way you think, especially if it does not come naturally to you. However, things that offend people are ultimately harmless. There is no insult that is harsh enough to cause actual damage to anything unless someone allows it, which again might be difficult for some people. This is because insults are simply specific words which have been designated as harmful arbitrarily, and in reality are just sounds. The idea that an idea or message can be so harsh that it is unacceptable is completely arbitrary. This is how societies currently work, certain ideas and words are taught to be bad, and people are taught to take offense to them.
Consider person A, who is being insulted by person B. Person B constructs a message, and willingly or not it is perceived as insulting for a specific reason. Person B says this message in words that travel to person A in the form of sound waves. Once person A has turned these sound waves into a message that they decode into English and analyse the meaninging of it, they compare the message to a list of known insulting phrases, words, and meanings in their memory that they have learned throughout their life. If the message contains one of those things, person A’s mood is suddenly changed to feeling hurt, because of a word that someone said. To change your mood because you heard a word makes no sense, this is just letting yourself be influenced and controlled by others who might not even be trying to hurt you. As such, this is a decision to be hurt, for which there is no justification.
When someone insults someone else’s mother or ancestors or someone they care about, this is often considered the worst type of offense. People often insist that they must fight back to defend the person who was insulted, or to defend their honor. This is illogical because in reality there was no harm done to that person. Consider two reactions, the first being that the person “defends” the insulted person’s honor. This leads to more hatred among the two fighting and prolongs the fighting. The only “victory” that can be gained from this is that one of the two feels good because they defeated the other, or that they defended the “honor” of the person who was insulted. Now consider the second option, the person does nothing. The fight does not continue, and they both go their separate ways. In this option, there is no damage done, the insulted person will not need medical attention or be damaged. The only thing that one could claim is damaged is the person’s “honor”. This is a fabrication of the person’s pride, which ultimately does not exist. To be offended that this imaginary thing has been “damaged” by some arbitrary definition of damage, has no practical aspect to it. The only effects of pride, offense, and damaged honor, are ones that a person chooses to do, because there are no other effects. This is not the same as choosing to ignore offense or damaged honor, it is realising that these are fabrications that are not justified by moral or logical grounds.
The only reaction that is justified to when someone offends you is to be concerned that they are trying to be mean, which as the first idea stated, is not justified. They should not be doing that, so you would be justified by trying to figure out or trying to solve why they are being mean to you. Another situation though is when someone accidentally offends someone else, they might say that they should not be responsible for being careful to avoid everything that can offend others. This is somewhat true, but can be a very selfish idea. Everyone should be considerate of others, that is not a matter of doing more than is necessary, it is a matter of empathy. This of course though has limitations as to the time they have to construct their messages and the amount of effort it takes. It is fairly common for someone to expect others to carefully use semantics to avoid a large list of words and topics, which can become impractical and unreasonable. If no one were to take offense at silly things, and people tried to be kind to each other, then no one would be offended and no one would have to work too hard not to offend people, they would simply have to be considerate and empathetic.
People should neither offend others nor take offense.