Self-censorship

Censorship. It’s a word with many negative connotations, associated with authoritarian states and restriction of freedom. But on an individual level it is something most people practise without even being aware of it. Things left unsaid. It may an attempt to spare somebody hurt; it may be to avoid leaving oneself open to attack for voicing an unpopular opinion.

Sins of omission. Being unwilling to speak out because of the possible consequences. Is this a bad thing? Does it depend on context? Is it acceptable not to tell somebody something because you feel it may hurt their feelings? Is it unacceptable to keep an opinion to oneself because it differs from the majority view? Or is that simply self-preservation?

I’ve been thinking about this recently because I worry that being open and honest in describing how I’m feeling and the difficult times my wife and I are going through might upset or hurt people who care about us. I don’t know the answer to this one. In general I am opposed to censorship and in favour of freedom of speech. But do I have any right to decide to withhold information that could affect other people’s view of me? To offer them an incomplete picture? Doesn’t that equate with dishonesty? I feel uncomfortable if I contemplate offering false information or deliberately omitting details. If the two situations feel the same doesn’t that mean they are the same? I believe they are, at least in my mind.

So I’m left with this conflict between wanting to avoid causing anybody distress and being open. So far I have leaned towards being open. I am aware that this can cause some of my readers to feel sympathetic pain and that is a cause for concern to me. But I believe that to hide the difficult facts and only write about the good times would be misleading. It would give the impression that I live in some ideal, perfect world where nothing bad ever happens. The truth is that like everybody else I face a range of situations, go through highs and lows, triumphs and disasters. I strongly believe that I have to present an accurately balanced account; I try to do so here.

I apologise if anybody has found what I write here to be distressing; that has never been my intention. But that is how life can be at times. Would life’s highs provide such elation were it not for the contrast with the lows?

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8 thoughts on “Self-censorship

  1. Sometimes I wonder if people really want to hear the truth. Would they much rather the "fine thank you" or the nitty gritty of the burdening information? That's tricky and I think it depends on who it is. If it is someone you know to genuinely care for you and someone who values your thoughts and feelings, then honesty is the best, but tactful honesty. I lack tact soemtimes, and I seem to have foot in mouth syndrome a lot. "Is it acceptable not to tell somebody something because you feel it may hurt their feelings?" I struggle with this all the time, I think my criticism might help them achieve more (making them aware of their imperfections) but I rarely say what I feel, because it does end up hurting their feelings. So, back to my first point, I think the social "game" requires us to not speak our minds. That sucks though. I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. Hi Ben,I like that you share what you share and not try and "sugar coat" things, as they say. I think you have to do what you feel is right to do for yourself.I think any concern people feel is simply because of caring about what you're going through. Oh, I hope I'm saying this right. I sometimes get very nervous (and feel bad) about sharing with people because I see that it causes them upset or worry. I was telling my husband about it and he said: "Of course they do, honey, they care." And I replied that it made me feel bad and I didn't want to make anyone upset. He told me that people should have the comfort and the feeling of connection of knowing that they can be concerned for another person and express it to them. I had not thought of it that way before. It really opened up my eyes to viewing someone's worry and concern in a whole new light. I like very much what you wrote about in this post. It gave me a heck of a lot to think about. It was very positive to me. "Sins of omission. Being unwilling to speak out because of the possible consequences. Is this a bad thing? Does it depend on context? Is it acceptable not to tell somebody something because you feel it may hurt their feelings? Is it unacceptable to keep an opinion to oneself because it differs from the majority view? Or is that simply self-preservation?"This was especially interesting to me right now. I've been wrestling with some of this myself these days. Thank you for following what you felt was right and writing this post. As usual, I got a lot from you sharing so openly and I feel very fortunate to know you through our blogs.Best to you and yours,Bird

  3. I think you've addressed something that most bloggers must face at some time or another. I blog about everyday life…but my son (has Autism) and I feel like it's a violation of his privacy to write about everything he goes through and everything I feel or think about it. He's 8, so it's not quite like I'm writing about a baby anymore…if that makes sense. I rarely (on my own blog) talk about life with my husband who has Aspergers. There are days, situations or discussions that are intensely frustrating and sometimes I would like an outlet to vent my feelings about it, but I don't write about that because I don't want to have to remind everyone that it goes without saying that I love him and in the long run we'll be okay. I understand your dilemma. (I think.) It's hard to choose how "real" to be when one decides to start putting themselves out there! I appreciate your candor. I feel like it shows me "the other side"- the perspective of someone with Aspergers and maybe the perspective of a man!! I hope that's not offensive- I mean it in the best possible way! 🙂

  4. Julie, I know just what you mean: "sometimes I would like an outlet to vent my feelings about it, but I don't write about that […]". There are things I won't write here – things said publicly in the heat of the moment can be very damaging to the people involved, so I wait until the dust has settled and I can be objective about things. And no, you weren't offensive. Thank you.

  5. I haven't read much of your blog yet, but this post made me think of something I read recently about needing to be responsible to people, but not being responsible for them. The writer was making a distinction between being direct and respectful to people and feeling guilty for causing their reactions or emotions. I don't know if I've explained it very well or if it will seem applicable to you, but anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  6. Hi aspergirlmaybe. I think "being responsible to people, but not being responsible for them" sums it up very well. Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy my writing.PS: Congratulations on your dx – it's good that what you've known about yourself has been validated.

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