General Question

elijah's avatar

What happened to personal responsibility?

Asked by elijah (8620 points ) January 8th, 2009 from iPhone

After reading a few of the recent questions, I have begun to wonder why some people blame substances/things for certain outcomes. Im not saying its certain people here, it happens in real life every day. Examples:
I smoke. I do not blame cigarettes if I get cancer, I will blame myself for choosing to smoke. If I act like an asshole at a wedding, I do not blame the alcohol that was served, I blame myself for being stupid and drinking too much. If I become obese, I will not blame McDonalds, I will blame myself for choosing to eat there (I know there are many other reasons people become obese, I’m just using this example because of the people who sued McDonalds). If a child goes to school and shoots his classmates, I do not blame guns. I blame whoever made that gun accessible to a child. I blame the people who didn’t know that the child needed help. Does anyone else think people are always looking for someone or something to blame besides themselves? I know people are going to jump all over me, but I’m honestly trying to understand this.

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26 Answers

elijah's avatar

I would like to add that I personally have had substance abuse problems, so I’m not talking out of my ass. But I only blame myself for my decisions.

jrpowell's avatar

It might not be that people are placing the blame on something else. They are simply explaining their actions.

I got fucked up at my sisters wedding and cringe when the video is played. And yeah, I say that I was really drunk. But it isn’t an excuse, it is simply an explanation.

elijah's avatar

That’s my point, johnpowell. You are taking personal responsibility. You aren’t saying that alcohol shouldn’t be served because it makes people behave badly. You are offering an explanation, not making excuses.

GAMBIT's avatar

It would seem that if someone has someone to put the blame on besides themselves than they will never consider themselves in the wrong. However until we look at ourselves we will never grow and we will wind up in the same circumstances over and over. Until we ask the question what can I do differently and look to change our own behavior. History is bound to repeat itself.

jonsblond's avatar

Yes, everyone is responsible for their own actions, but someone who chooses to do something that they know will harm them, well, I feel the two go hand in hand. Say someone decided to smoke raisins instead of cigarettes, I would think the chances of getting cancer would be much lower.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Perhaps people have this belief that they are exception to known consequences, and therefore want to avoid being labeled stupid. It’s like kids doing something really dumb, and making up every excuse in the world as to why it’s not their fault to avoid getting into trouble with their parents. Maybe there’s too much of an expectation of perfection when we are young, and doing things right, rather than learning from mistakes.

jrpowell's avatar

@elijahsuicide :: I was kinda shooting for presenting the idea that what you see as someone placing blame on something else is in fact not that.

Aaron: “Dude, I can’t believe you called Sally a slut last night.”
Ryan: “I was drunk.”

I’m not passing the buck, but it looks like I am.

And I apologize to Sally. But she is a slut.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think elijahsuicide is referring to situations such as someone driving the car with a cup of hot coffee between their legs. The coffee spills out burning them, so they sue McDonald’s because the coffee is too hot, ignoring the fact that driving with a cup of coffee between your legs is perhaps not in your best interests.

There is a whole segment of people who have a hard time equating their personal behavior with the probable outcome. Lots of people get into a car with a cup of coffee and never consider putting it between their legs because they instinctively know that’s a really stupid thing to do.

@johnpowell, at some point at your sister’s wedding, didn’t the thought—“this is kind of an important day for the family, and I should probably not drink too much so I’m on my best behavior” cross your mind? You take ownership of what you saw on the video, which is a good thing, but there are a lot of people who would say, “It’s not my fault, I was nervous” or “It’s not my fault, they kept handing me drinks” or “It’s not my fault, I didn’t have anything to eat all day.”

elijah's avatar

Yeeeees alfreda, exactly what I meant! You worded it much better. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of stupid things, I just don’t blame vodka and ban it from social situations. I work harder to make the right decisions. I don’t think I’m a bad person. I don’t think other people are bad people. Just a bad decision.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@elijahsuicide, I wonder if people don’t recognize that it is a decision. We’ve become a “me” culture. “I want to drive with my coffee between my legs. How dare the coffee spill out and burn my legs? I didn’t want it to do that! There must be something wrong with the cup of coffee!”

jonsblond's avatar

I don’t think anyone is saying “ban” alcohol from social situations. Cigarettes, guns and greasy food shouldn’t be banned either. It’s all about being responsible with the way you use these things. Personally, I would prefer a social situation that involved some outdoor activities and no alcohol, but that is my preference. Unfortunately, I am required to attend social gatherings with my husband’s work that includes alcohol. I would rather not go because some of the people get pretty drunk and do stupid things I’d rather not have my 4 year old witness, but we must attend as to not offend the boss. I’ve gotten off subject a bit now, sorry. Touchy subject for me and I’m blaming it on little sleep last night. ;)

elijah's avatar

@jonsblond- I see your point from a mothers view, I agree there are things kids shouldn’t be exposed to. I think it is our job as parents to know if it is a safe place to take our kids. It’s very unfortunate to not be able to include your kids, but you can’t control anyone except yourself. Get a sitter, enjoy some adult time. Mine are older so they are exposed to certain things but im glad because it gives me an opprotunity to talk about it with them. I don’t want my kids to be confused when they do encounter certain situations. It’s a very shitty situation for us parents, isn’t it.

jonsblond's avatar

@elijahsuicide: Indeed it is. Teaching personal responsibility at a young age is so important.

bodyhead's avatar

Hey just so you know, in the situation of that idiot spilling coffee on herself then suing McDonald’s it wasn’t all so cut and dry.

That woman had to have a skin graph to replace the skin all through her crotch because the coffee burned the crap out of her through her clothes. McDonald’s had changed the way they serve coffee and due to some cost cutting measures they implemented a policy that they knew to be dangerous to the customer.

I hate to correct you guys and agree with you at the same time. Your point is correct but your example is flawed. I think relgiion takes a lot of blame in this game. The whole AA system is flawed.

Everything is in God’s hands. It’s not my fault I’m an alcholic.

Give me a break. Grow a backbone and take responsibility for your own actions.

bythebay's avatar

If some of the children I see hanging around my house are any example of the present and future; personal responsibility might indeed end up on the endangered species list. We stress it to our children on a daily basis, but some of these kids haven’t a clue. If they get bad grades, it’s the teachers fault; If they don’t finish their homework,it’s the coaches fault for keeping them at practice too late; if they lose something, no worries – the parents will just a buy a replacement. If they forward an inappropriate text or are on an inappropriate website; it’s their friends fault for sending/showing it them in the first place. I wish I could say I didn’t, but I also know many adults who struggle with the concept, too. I’m with bodyhead, grow a backbone, grow a pair, pull up your big boy/girl pants and take some freaking responsibility.

elijah's avatar

The McDonalds thing i was thinking about was the overweight people trying to sue because McDonalds made them “addicted” to the food. About the coffee thing- unless the employee literally dropped the coffee on her (i don’t know) she is still responsible for putting the coffee in her lap. There are probably hundreds of other people who happened to buy coffee there the same day who managed not to spill it on themselves. I feel horrible for the woman either way, its a hard way to learn from your mistake.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think the problem stems from the parents. It’s easier to think that because the adult was raised with values, that the children will absorb those same values by osmosis. When parents are strapped for time, the last thing they want is to come home to conflict with kids, and the result has been to do whatever to buy the peace, or make the assumption that because they have “good kids” they will know how to make good decisions. Parents put so much value on kids doing things right the first time, that there isn’t much going on with respect to fixing mistakes, either the importance of, or how to. A good example is math grades. Kid flunks a math test, gets grounded at home for the F, but is never made to correct the problems or learn the concepts.

elijah's avatar

about the coffee- the employee handed it to her, the lid was loose, and it spilled? or did the women actually stick it between her legs before it spilled?

bodyhead's avatar

Elijah, I agree with you. I don’t think anyone should be drinking fluid while driving but they do.

McDonald’s had done something like just changing their lids to where they would pop off at the slightest contact to save 3 cents per cup and moved the coffee machine closer to the front so that when the coffee is handed to the customer, it was an unsafe temperature (even to drink).

Normal people are morons. Get use to it. Don’t sell a gun with the barrel pointing backwards because the first person
who uses it is going to be pissed. Put a wet paint sign on a wall and watch everyone who walks by touch it. It’s maddening.

edit: I believe the woman spilled it on herself. Whether the lid was slightly off or not couldn’t be known after the fact (when it was completely off).

jrpowell's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock :: My sisters wedding day went like this..

I showed up.. This was at my fathers side of the families house. I still don’t know why the wedding was there. My mother killed my father when I was ten years old. I don’t get along with that side of the family. In fact, I haven’t talked to any of them since the wedding.

After my mom killed my father we ran. California, Colorado, Mexico. We hid in 30 states. I still have the atlas that tracked our movements. So we were on the run and the first thing they did was loot our house.

My aunt sold everything of value to finance the pet grooming place she wanted to open.

While my mom was in jail and I lived with my grandmother we depended on the gang my sister was in for food. We lived in Redlands California. I hate my grandmother too. She stole our SSI and saved it for herself.

So I am pissed. Five years of eating crappy food and shoes that are tight.

So fast forward to the wedding day. I walk in their house and I see the artwork on the wall, the clock on the wall, the TV in the entertainment center. It was the shit that they wanted to keep. And the shit we could have sold for food. They did give back some stuff. The leftovers from the garage sale.

So I am pissed.

Then my stupid redneck cousin starts gay bashing. I tell him that I am gay to piss him off. They always thought I was gay. It wasn’t a stretch for them to believe.

About an hour later my cousin comes into the bathroom and points a gun at me while I am getting dressed. He says something like, “I should kill you you fucking faggot.”

So yeah. A tense day. I got fucked up. I should have caught a cab home instead.

bodyhead's avatar

Good god, John. You probably didn’t get half as drunk as I would have. Wow. Just wow.

Nimis's avatar

Yeah. I think I would still be drunk from that wedding.
Geez, JP. That’s a lot of shit to drag around. Hope your load’s getting lighter these days.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Good grief! That earns you honorary Southern citizenship! I believe I’d be under that table with you and Mr. Jack Daniels.

bythebay's avatar

@JP: If you haven’t started your book yet…you should!

Xtacy's avatar

The reason people do not take responsibility is not just one thing. In fact the reason people do it is because it works. Despite what anyone says people care what other people think. They essentially wear a mask in their social life and if anyone jeopardizes the mask’s good face, the owner will go as far as to sit in a courtroom and literally steal money from McDonalds to protect it. If they are caught with their mask off they believe so strongly that they have been shamed. The samurai killed themselves over matters such as this.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Personal responsibility for one’s actions is a fundamental moral belief underlying most of Western culture, including law, religion, criminal justice, and ethics. Unfortunately, the concept of individual responsibility in breaking down. Claiming victimhood is now the path to political and economic advantage.

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