Can anyone explain this phrase for me, please? "umbrage-taking characters from a Seinfeld episode"?

This is the context it was in:

On the other hand, some of us are easily triggered — and can’t resist our first impulse. We have to speak up. This is how ugly public scenes begin. These tiny annoyances should trigger bemusement over life’s rich tapestry instead of turning us into umbrage-taking characters from a Seinfeld episode.

  • To take umbrage = to become offended. Thus, "umbrage-taking" is an adjective meaning "(a person who) easily gets offended". Dec 29 '15 at 7:40

Some people are lenient. They'd sooner give you the benefit of the doubt than take offense.

Others are easily offended. They take umbrage (offense) at the slightest provocation.

Still others spend their lives on the lookout for excuses, however flimsy, to take offense (umbrage). They'll cavil at the slightest thing, real or imaginary. They're known as "touchy" or "overly sensitive," whereas in reality they're neither: taking umbrage is what they live for.

Many characters on Seinfeld, a TV sitcom, are modeled on just such people.

  • 2
    Just as a footnote: It seems like many sitcom characters take umbrage at minor things; it seems to be part of the shtick for that genre. Seinfeld just happens to be one of the more well-known sitcoms, and it's one that a lot of people seem to relate to.
    – J.R.
    Dec 29 '15 at 10:26
  • While it may be clear to OP, could you please elaborate on the first two sentences. "Some people...lenient... take offense" ? What benefit of doubt are we talking about? I am confused. Dec 29 '15 at 11:38
  • 1
    @JonyA - Let's say we see each other, and I tell you, "That's a strange colored shirt you're wearing." If you are easily offended, you might think, "Why is this person insulting my clothes?" and hold a grudge. However, if you are more lenient, if you are inclined to give me the benefit of doubt, you'll realize that I'm not insulting you, I'm merely making an observation, and sharing an opinion. I can still like you even if I'm not so fond of your shirt. So, lenient people are relaxed about comments, while uptight people are quick to find insults when there are none.
    – J.R.
    Dec 29 '15 at 22:16

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