In the last forty-eight hours, I have had some pretty interesting things happen in my life. As the events unfolded, I was constantly thinking, how can I capture this in my writing? I wanted to share my experience and story with the world, but should I? If I ranted and raved about what happened, would I just be adding to the chaos and negativity that most frequently clogs the social media channels. As I thought this all out, another thought came into my head: self-censoring.
For about a year and a half, I was writing under a pseudonym, which I talked about in my last post. I had to, I was a somewhat public figure, being an educator, and what I said could have a direct impact on my life professionally and personally. At the time I was so angry. I wondered, why did my family insist I hide who I am? What does it matter and why can’t I have an opinion? But now that I am free from teaching, and I am trying to write more I am realizing this- just because I want to share my ideas and opinions, it doesn’t mean every thought I have should be shared with the world. Each person should do a little bit of self-censoring.
Now before your inner activist gets upset, or the writer in you wants to slap me, think about this: yes, as writers we want to capture the human experience. We want to share with the world a thought, feeling, or emotion. Oftentimes these things are a result of situations we have lived through and want others to share in with us. And I think that is perfectly fine. I absolutely encourage that sort of writing. But what I am more specifically talking about is using our anonymous writing as a method for passive aggressive bullying and cattiness.
As my husband and I begin to talk about children and starting our own family I can’t help but wonder how will our children experience life and bullying. When I was a junior and senior in high school, things like livejournal, xanga, and other blog sites were just starting out. I will never forget that after a falling out with a former friend, within a few days I had a comment posted on my xanga stating that I was as hairy as Chewbaca, and there were several comments of agreement. The hurt and devastation was excruciating at that point in my life, as it always is when you are a teenager. What would that be like now?
Cyber-stalking? Getting on every social media channel and calling the individual out for being a freak? A loser? A nobody worth nothing.
It is because of all of these things I thought about self-censoring. I am a writer. I strive to capture the human experience, but I refuse to do so at the expense of another.
And please, don’t think ill of me and that I am being pious. I am NOT perfect. I am as flawed as they come, and I am just as guilty of gossiping amongst my girlfriends as the next. But there are still moments where I can become cognoscente and realize that what I am doing is wrong. It is the wrong way to be expressing myself and my views. If I am being just in my self-evaluation, even the posts I had about how much I disliked my students are wrong. They really are. They were written out of anger and not self-reflection.
We all make poor choices as writers sometimes. And we all bring certain elements of our personal turmoil with us to the internet, but does it make it okay when our justification is “I am sharing my point-of-view and that is the right I am entitled to.”
It is a challenge to myself and to all of you writers out there, are we capable of a certain level of self-censoring when we know that we are writing about is NOT the human experience, but rather a word vomit of the hurt and pain we have felt that we want to indirectly aim at another?
Please feel free to comment below. I would like to hear what you have to say. I will advise this, if you choose to word-vomit negativity to the extreme that is outside of an intellectual point, I will delete the comment. I want to hear a dialogue of writers.
Pocket Owl Press
Post Script: If you are an individual who supports anti-bullying and loves clothing, please check out Sevenly. Sevenly is a clothing company that focuses each week on a new charity and campaign. This week it is focusing on ending bullying. With the purchase of each shirt, $7 is donated to the charity. I have already purchased mine and will be rocking it.