It was only a matter of time before one of my Twitter posts offended somebody (despite my best efforts with Donald Trump). 140 characters, stripped of all qualifiers and caveats is a very direct, if blunt, instrument of opinion.
Earlier today I posted the following on Twitter, which also automatically bounced onto Facebook:
I weep at they excess of toys given by well meaning relatives each year, oblivious of the damage to the planet the kids will inherit.
I meant every word and attempted to write it without ambiguity. What I couldn’t avoid was any ambiguity of intent. To that effect, I’d like to apologise to any of my own relatives who felt I was taking a potshot at them personally. Had I been trying to do that I would have written “my well meaning relatives” and “my kids”. I had enough characters left to put it that way and very specifically avoided it. In hindsight using the word people may have been even less likely to cause offence, but Twitter is a no-second-chances kind of medium.
Anyone who knows me well, can probably think back and realise that I don’t intentionally do character assassination or bitchy and that if I do intend to have a go at someone I’ll name them. That said, it is very difficult to un-offend someone without appearing insincere or sarcastic, and retracting a statement I stand by will only make me appear hypocritical.
As far as the statement goes I’ll put my hands up: I’ve been there, I am one of those responsible, I am a well meaning relative, I’m not trying to deny it. But I want to be better. Maybe looking at things from another viewpoint could be helpful; if my statement does strike a nerve, perhaps it means you are already most of the way to agreement with it. That perhaps it is not something to be offended by, but embraced.