On self-censorship

Through the day today I read some posts from people in the micro.blog community about self-censorship.

It started with this post from Greg Morris:

There was nothing controversial there, but it criticised a poor take from someone who is well liked, and I couldn’t do doing with the hassle of replies.

I repeat, there was nothing offensive in the post, simply a retort to the terrible take. The issue that I foresaw was who it was towards. If you offend the community in question, then tend to swarm and reply in droves.

Gabz, following on to what Greg was saying:

But having to accommodate (self-censor) myself and my thoughts for the sake of political correctness makes me just want to leave my internet presence altogether. Again, it is not that I am the kind of person who goes out of his way to offend people, but I am aware that many of my thoughts and views might not agree with a wider community, I think.

Alexandra says:

Sadly, for all of us, it feels like we can no longer have any meaningful discussions because there will always be—not just differing opinions, which we should expect—but out and out extremist who look for any opportunity to destroy common discourse with vitriol, lies, and worse, bullying.

Well, one way is to talk, to take courage and broach what we feel are forbidden subjects and topics, in an effort to at least try and make sense of it all.

Finally, Vincent (owner of the excellent Tinylytics and soon-to-be-public Scribbles.page blogging platform):

I want to leave on a daily basis because people just want to shout at each other — no middle ground. So I look at my options on a weekly basis of what if”. We certainly lost something in the past few years — people seem to get offended by a feather hitting the haystack.

This all is a theme on what I’ve also been noticing as of late and in the case of micro.blog my self-censoring ended up meaning I left the platform.

I am not good at self-censorship. I wear my heart on my sleeve and share my thoughts. I love to argue. If you have a position I don’t agree with I will argue with you, but not to be a jerk. I want to really understand where you’re coming from. I love knowing what makes people tick. I might even change my mind on something based on that argument. Unfortunately that’s gotten me into a lot of trouble - many people, in fact most people, are not like me.

I really wish people wouldn’t self-censor. Alexandra notes that in the case of micro.blog:

I feel people here would be open to more debate and discussion as they seem to be cut differently to the average X user. I don’t know, maybe it’s just a feeling.

I used to think the same thing until one person started up with racial, political, and other nonsense, and when called on it (by me of course because I can’t keep my mouth shut) doubled-down on it, supported by a bunch of others (the swarming Greg mentioned in his post, and something very common on social media). After saying he was going to write a blog post about the subject, and saying he wasn’t going to call me out, called me out anyhow and that was the last straw, I left the platform 1.

There is no rational discussion of some of these topics, especially if you are white, male, and straight. I wish there could be as I think everyone has ideas and life experience to contribute. Unfortunately I think we’re in a time and place right now where that just isn’t possible, at least on the Internet. I’ve had very good conversations with all sorts of people on these topics in real life so it is possible.

So it isn’t surprising to me to read that other people are having thoughts about how they need to self-censor, even on their own blogs. I think it’s a shame but I understand it.

Update: Bix Frankonis responds and my response to that.

Last Update: here

  1. I want to make sure something is clear here. The reason I finally left micro.blog was not about being afraid of defending my views as seems to be the view of some involved in this conversation since I posted this. I left micro.blog because of being lied to. Full stop.↩︎

February 9, 2024