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Frank Rothstein

Coast to Coast Video

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Get a thicker skin.

It just seems that whenever I turn on the news or read an article someone is highly offended by a comment made. Our acces to every last word has expanded and our sense of humor has waned.


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    Jul 8 2013: It's a delicate subject. On one hand, it's difficult to be around people who are easily offended - filter vocabulary, adjust tone, facial expression, "jump through hoops", and "walk on eggshells" to avoid offending them. On the other hand, telling other people to "get a thicker skin" and to put up with our hate speech and insults is, well, insensitive.

    On one hand, "Easily offended" appear to be a kind of bullies. On the other hand, if we completely disregard etiquette, feelings of others, etc., we turn into bullies ourselves.

    The way to find balance is, perhaps, to listen. When several people rebuke us for being harsh and insensitive, especially when the criticism comes from the peers, it may be time to reflect.

    E.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism
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      Jul 8 2013: Hmm.
      How about asking the right questions? What is it all about? What happened? I agree that it's complicated, it definitely is and it is time to reflect and involve everybody in the dialogues. I hope this comment will not be misunderstood.
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        Jul 8 2013: Anna, yes, your points are understood. Really wonderful.

        And haven't you experienced that there is a fine art to asking questions as well?

        It is very complicated.

        Face to face is so much easier than online.
        But even face to face in gets challenging.

        We ourselves are very complex individuals.

        There is so much humor throughout this conversation......and some has been mistaken for something else.

        Good communication enriches our lives so much......that it is worth it to keep trying.
        Don't you think?
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          Jul 8 2013: Agreed. And I wish everybody would think and actually do the same that is - ask questions, communicate and, well, I'll keep trying. Thanks! :)
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        Jul 8 2013: Yes, asking questions to understand the context, the motives, etc. "Giving the benefit of doubt" before we get offended as it was mentioned in the second article I quoted earlier.

        This works when we are about to feel offended ourselves. My comment was more related to the situation when we may start offending others when our own skin gets too think.
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          Jul 8 2013: I hate it when people get offended without asking questions. The question remains - what questions should we ask? I still agree with Dawkins and Harris that being raised/brought up in a certain community of religious fundamentalism changes how you respond to the world, what you share, what you do, how you respond to the questions you are being asked, if you dare to respond in the first place. I'm basing this on my own experience, hours of reading, communicating and watching youtube. Some things can really open your eyes.
          Personally I was raised/brought up in a cloud of conflicting ideas, troubles in the neighbourhood, looming system-change, family with problems of food shortage, bad housing, prob lems with sanitation, Czernobyl as both a memory and reality, priests getting killed, then - priests getting revered that led to misuse. A lot here to tell.

          EDIT - just to expand on this - one of the most popular priests drives an Aston Martin while preaching on hs own radio. Senior citizens, mostly old ladies over 70, are willing to give all their pensions to this man, saying that he's holy, that's how weird all this can get. Brainwashing and misuse. That was just an example. There are stories to tell about other countries as well and the whole faulty idea of morality.

          I'll say one thing again, I said that before - preaching guilt to kids "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, therefore I beg holy Mary..." and so on, is not good in a education system. I do understand other cultural issues here.

          Please see this:


          I don't think the kids mentioned in this talk should "get a thicker skin" when faced with threat of corporal punishment. It's the education system that should be made better.

          Best wishes.
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        Jul 8 2013: Hi, Anna,

        I believe, I created my TED account to comment on Sam Harris's talk you quote. If I remember right, it was the first TED video I watched. I then read several on-line debates between Sam Harris and Sean Carroll on the topic (e.g. http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/05/04/126504492/you-can-t-derive-ought-from-is). I tend to be on Sean Carroll's side. Science may help us understand HOW we make moral decisions or provide us with information that may influence our moral choices explaining why we feel certain way from evolutionary, neurological, or psychological points of view (I can agree with Harris in this limited sense), but science, imo, will never tell us what moral decisions to make. There will never be a litmus test for "right" and "wrong".

        I believe, it is impossible to say a moral teaching directed to others without hypocrisy. When Jesus said, "do not judge", he added "you, hypocrites", thus judging those who judge. The author of the article I quoted before http://blacksheepreport.com/for-those-who-are-easily-offended/ seems to be offended by the "easily offended". As Peter Higgs mentions, there is a lot of the same fundamentalist attitudes in accusations directed against religious fundamentalists.

        We cannot tell others how to feel. "Have a good day" is hypocrisy. "Get a thicker skin" is hypocrisy. "Don't take it personally" is hypocrisy. "You must forgive" is hypocrisy. "Don't get mad at me", "Cool down" is hypocrisy. Try saying "don't get so sad, it was just a dog" to someone who has lost a pet or "you will get over it" to a woman who found out that her husband is cheating on her.

        One of my favorite sayings which I myself don't follow (which is hypocrisy) is "Having opened your mouth - think, and having thought - close your mouth." Just saying it is hypocrisy.
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          Jul 8 2013: Thanks, I'll watch and read and get back to you later.

          I agree that that there is a lot of idol-based, internet atheism out there, but it is there for a reason. How can you keep calm and cool down knowing what's going on...

          For me, before watching and reading the links you're directing me to... Let me say this:

          Don't be a hypocricy fundamentalist. All points are important. If they come together, there may be something new and good that can come out of it (as I counterhypocritically say, this is what discussion should be about, I think and hope...)
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          Jul 8 2013: Hi again,

          Here's a link:


          That's just one of the many links. What I'm trying to say is this morality should not have a religious foundation, there is not one good religion. There are a lot of points there that are important, a lot of good questions.

          I scanned your links, re-read your comment. Hypocrisy when communicating is one thing but "don't take it personally", "you must.." and so on are sometimes needed to cool down. But when acting, planning, thinking, being moral, living your life, just speaking is sometimes not enough. Having a discussion though is needed, open discussion with the right people, maybe that's why I'm writing this right now.

          A perspective here:

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        Jul 9 2013: Anna,

        This video of Sam Harris is good. Although, he employs the jaded Epicurean paradox, the reasoning is solid. Yes, there is a problem with religious morality. Here is a hair-raising example of what religious morality can do

        Religion is a tricky thing. There is a fine line between righteousness and self-righteousness, between "not judging" and condoning evil, between "giving to poor" and encouraging idleness and supporting bad habits. The trick is to find this line. I believe, this line cannot be detected by a scientific experiment. I don't believe, Bible tells what's right and what's wrong. Bible just lays things as they are and leaves the decisions to the reader also providing some tools for discovering it - such as self-reflection in form of prayer or meditation, etc. Only in this sense, morality can be considered to come from religion. But, in fact, it comes from our own hearts.

        One may see the Bible as a manual on genocide, cult of human sacrifice, etc. But it makes a few good points. One of them is that there is no moral authority or power without the cross. Unless we are ready to die for what we say, the words aren't worth much. In this sense, what this reporter is doing is, definitely, not hypocrisy. But if anti-corruption rants come from a politician or a priest driving Aston Martin, it's a different story.

        I hope, it makes sense.
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          Jul 9 2013: I know there are horrifying things done in the world. This is not hypocrisy on the writers side, this is "show me, help me stop, make me understand." Religion is a tricky thing, I agree. Culture is even trickier. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, it encourages tribe morality, not just morality.

          There is an old story by a Polish writer everybody had to read as a child in the eighties/early nineties. It was about practices in one of the villages. Long story short - a story about a village in the XIX century. A girl gets sick. A witchdoctor comes to the village to help, decides that what's best to do is to tell her parents and the rest to put her in the huge bread oven (a stone one used in those days) while telling prayers. The girl opens her eyes and shouts out "What are you doing?!". The witchdoctor, that was actually a crone in this story says "See? She's already waking up and better!". They put her in the stove, get her out, burnt. She never wakes up, obviously.

          Everybody had to read that, that was a warning sign - embrace illumination, embrace the science, learn about it, read and explore, otherwise you'll be in that village and nobody wants that. There are still villages with such practices and worse.

          I do agree and it comes from our hearts. I did read the books, the apocrypha, learned about it, I had to learn some of the passages by heart at church, I had no choice.

          Since this is about thicker skin, this discussion - maybe getting a thicker skin should not be about comments, but about being impervious to disinformation? Learn to ignore? The ladies that reacted to the priest and called him holy lacked that, I think.

          Yes, it is a completely different story. Thanks for directing me to the link. Scary but good to stay informed.

          "One of them is that there is no moral authority or power without the cross." - I would say education should be the key. There were horrifying things done in the name of the cross, as well as other symbols. We're all people, let's learn
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        Jul 9 2013: Good talking to you, Anna.

        Re: "There were horrifying things done in the name of the cross, as well as other symbols." -- By "cross" I meant self-sacrifice. I understand that those symbols can mean anything depending on the speaker.

        Re: "Since this is about thicker skin, this discussion - maybe getting a thicker skin should not be about comments, but about being impervious to disinformation? Learn to ignore?"

        You and I grew up in communist countries. I guess, we are fairly well inoculated against brainwashing and propaganda. Getting people angry and agitated against each other is the first thing to do on the list of those who want to control the crowds.
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          Jul 9 2013: There was never pure communism in Poland, but it was clear who's in power. That changed immensely during my childhood. And is still changing.

          Right now there's so much information noise that I didn't buy a new tv after the last one went into pieces. I have newspapers, internet... But I can't read the whole internet, can't watch the whole tv from all over the world.

          Maybe that's one of the reasons I appreciate the links.

          Funny thing when it comes to self-sacrifice. Is it self-sacrifice or sacrifice of the ego? Or both?
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        Jul 9 2013: Ego might suffice in most cases.

        Yes, information noise is a problem these days.
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          Jul 9 2013: Agreed.

          It should/ought to/must suffice in most cases. Ego-sacrifice, I mean.

          Regards from ego/id/superego and best wishes :)
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      Jul 8 2013: The answer is to use good manners which I have learned here on TED, you can ask our dear departed friend La Mar who no doubt vouch for my manners.

      This is not the please thank you variety, but the treat people with importance variety. In addition to this be friendly which I learned from the Boy Scouts. It will disarm the most volatile situations.

      Yea you can go around getting into a bar fight with the world if you want but it is not the most effective way to go though life. On the other hand what you say is the tyranny of the victim which is specious.
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        Jul 8 2013: Where's LaMar?

        Ok, I can't say I'm here discussing all the time, just wondering.
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          Jul 8 2013: Arkady says that he now post under the pseudonym of TED FRIEND. I think he missed me?
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          Jul 9 2013: LaMar announced his good news that he got a job teaching permaculture classes for an extension school and would not have further time for TED Conversations. He posted this announcement multiple times under the pseudonym Not Here but signed with his name.

          An extension school is a collection of courses that are not part of what the regular students at a university take but are offered for people in the community. Extension began as agricultural Extension and was specifically focused on technical courses for people in agriculture and forestry. but it has become more general.
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          Jul 9 2013: Pat, I didn't say that. I just said "Hi, LaMar" in response to one of your lovely exchanges with TED FRIEND because it felt like meeting an old friend. :-)

          I enjoy talking to LaMar, but I don't like "food fights" like the one in your video :-). It can get overwhelming.

          I think, it might be a good idea to adopt the code phrase "Food fight!" to stop this nonsense. This is a good conversation to learn techniques to ignore each other's inflammatory remarks and stay cool.

          I'm sure, whoever TED FRIEND is, gets a kick out of watching how all these cool, reasonable, and tolerant people get into a heated argument over how not to get angry. :-)

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