Do you ever repress your true thoughts and feelings because you’re worried about the consequences? Then you’ll understand the power of self-censorship all too well.
Let’s be honest, everybody does it. In social situations there are times when things are better left unsaid and saying the convenient thing may even be the right thing to do.
“Sure, your hair looks great!”
But there’s a more insidious type of self-censorship which relates to deep-felt beliefs on social, cultural and political issues. Where, instead of expressing your true thoughts and feelings, you keep them silent or modify them in fear of the potential repercussions.
Not only is this damaging to ourselves, it’s damaging to society more widely.
Let me explain…
The exchanging of ideas and alternative points of view is the means by which we all grow. We better understand each other—and ourselves—through authentic conversations. But when we hide opinions, we allow false narratives to flourish and a misleading consensus to emerge.
Public conversation is reduced to a charade where everyone competes to fit in, rather than contribute their real and unique perspectives.
So, what’s causing self-censorship?
The overriding social and cultural institutions that surround us are able to create an atmosphere that leads us to self-censor. This includes media networks, the organisations we work for, and groups we are a part of. They themselves are influenced by a wide range of forces: whether special interest groups, such as lobbyists and advertisers, or Government itself. It’s a vicious battleground of self-interested groups seeking to influence what we see, hear and say.
We can see this at work in the new culture of public shaming which is rife across the big social media networks. One small example is telling. In the UK, Sky Sports broadcaster Matt Le Tissier was fired after expressing criticisms of Black Lives Matter and COVID lockdown measures. He was also forced to quit Twitter after being subject to abuse.
The consequence of this is clear: don’t expect other sports pundits to express their opinions publicly—unless it’s in support of BLM and COVID lockdown measures, in which case, your opinion is welcome.
My purpose here is not to make a political point. If the situation was reversed, and someone expressing support for BLM and/or lockdown was fired, this too would be censorious.
There are thousands of examples, many more egregious than this. And the message it perpetuates is simple: be careful what you say, and ensure it falls in line with what’s deemed acceptable public discourse.
Break the stranglehold of self-censorship
Breaking free of self-censorship is tough. But we all, as individuals, have a responsibility to engage in open, honest and respectful discourse.
Even ill-thought through ideas are important. Once expressed they can be challenged (hopefully in a considered way) and this can lead to greater enlightenment. We must all be open to each others’ ideas and perspectives, and engage in open discussion in a peaceful and tolerant way.
It’s why free speech is considered the ‘marketplace of ideas’. But right now, the marketplace seems to have a limited product range on offer.
That’s why Autarki exists: to open up the marketplace of ideas and allow people to express themselves without feeling the need to self-censor.
Join our community today and participate in a platform which protects your right to free speech (as well as your privacy).
Let’s talk, listen—and disagree—in harmony!