Do You Self-Censor as Much as I Do?

I suspect it's a habit that extends beyond the world of writing. How many times have you answered a question with "fine," regardless of the true answer which was probably something more like "exhausted," "thrilled!" or "frightened?" Before we even speak the truth, we lay out our stock answers. Answers we assume beforehand are going to be accepted. However, it seems the more distance we create from individualized answers, thoughts, curiosities or opinions we perpetuate a culture of mundane unacceptability or rather predictable judgments.

My best writing comes from inside of me. It seems the more honest and transparent I am on paper (or on screen), the more I connect with my readers. I always say that a writer who reveals personal and individualized work is actually the most universal; this is because a reader relates the most to a writer that explores his/her own humanity (aka flaws, challenges, joys, testimonials, experiences as a person). The more vulnerable and imperfect the writer is, the more intimate and accessible he/she is to the reader.

When I write poetry or fiction, I am less afraid to glue my pieces to the page, but when it comes to blogging, I tend to hold back. With blogging, there is an unforgiving potential for public exposure. When my words drift out into the internet, unattached to a big publisher, isolated from umbrella genres like poetry and fiction –which somehow offer an artistic right and license to be honest and open– I feel more hesitant throughout the process of expression.

There’s something merciless about the internet, as though every piece of yourself online has the potential to be held against you in a twisted reference or an out of context quote. I am thankful that my own words haven’t been thrown back at my face, but I see it happen to others everyday. I always try to remember that any word I write on Twitter, the blog or Tumblr etc. will infinitely exist in “cyberspace” and remain tied to my persona, even if it’s a facebook post I made in 2004 (when facebook was mainly used by college kids).

This is unfortunate because it affects my blogging. I notice that my pinkcurlers.com writing is somewhat diluted next to my “artistic” writing. For example, if I do cover something more political, I tend to maintain a neutral tone to simply lay out the facts or the policy and let the reader decide for his or herself. Or–if I tackle something personal like depression (which never fails to connect with readers), I’ll attempt to distance myself from any illustrative anecdotes I use, and I’ll shy away from providing more graphic, vivid detail that could really enrich the writing and involve the reader. Why do I self-censor? It’s an easy and, I guess, sad answer: if it’s writing that people are more likely to judge or exclude, relinquishing it into the internet is like surfing around shark fins.

Do you self-censor too?

I suspect it’s a habit that extends beyond the world of writing. How many times have you answered a question with “fine,” regardless of the true answer which was probably something more like “exhausted,” “thrilled!” or “frightened?” Before we even speak the truth, we lay out our stock answers. Answers we assume beforehand are going to be accepted. However, it seems the more distance we create from individualized answers, thoughts, curiosities or opinions we perpetuate a culture of mundane unacceptability or predictable judgments.

If culture is anything like a gene pool, you can conclude that diversity leads to enrichment or improvement. Yet, why do we stifle ourselves? Do I self-censor out of fear? Personally, yes. I do. Will I lose readers? Will someone from work come across a post that could throw me into the “different box?” Will I let people down if I reveal too much imperfection, chaos or less popular points of view? These are the questions that seem to enable my self-censorship. I wonder though, am I being smart? Looking out for my future? Or —am I accommodating mendacity? 

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