Earlier today I participated in a debate regarding the freedom of each individual to post as they see fit on their own social network pages. It prompted me to make this blog, sharing with you my personal position on this issue.
A famous quote, attributed to Voltaire says:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This is a tenet I hold dear.
We all have issues which we feel strongly about, fluoride in the water, gmo crops, legalisation of cannabis, animal rights, human rights, religious freedom, scientific ethics………..you get the idea. At least, I hope you do, because a person without passion is very dull indeed.
So, who decides which issues are appropriate for public expression, which ones are more important than another? How about if I ask all my vegetarian friends to stop posting about their lifestyle because it offends me? Or what if I ask my gay friends to stop posting pictures of their friends kissing because I don’t like looking at that? Perhaps I might ask my atheist friends not to post negative comments regarding religion because my faith is disturbed.
(Anyone who knows me knows that I do not hold any of the above opinions, I am being metaphorical.)
I personally believe that social media IS a portal for social change, shifting perceptions gradually, drip infiltration of the social psyche. The vein like bleeding of information through friend networks that link and spread can bring awareness of issues previously only recognised by niche audiences. Sufficient awareness breeds action.
Look at it this way, if 100 people see one post – 10 of them share it – 1 of those 10 acts on it. Well that’s one more than was acting before it. How about if 100 people see 10 posts, and the slow exposure has finally prompted a larger response, then maybe 10 of them act. You can see my point.
Conversely, if an issue is completely removed from social interest, then one person can post 1000 times and eventually they will be deleted, blocked or ignored and the issue will die itself.
The question then becomes which issues are worthy. They all are if someone believes in them enough. It’s not up to me or you or anyone to decide what’s important, it’s up to the collective and that will happen by the process I described above.
I will illustrate how I actively apply this process in reverse. I currently have 663 friends on Facebook. Now a lot of this list is people who I have added over the years as neighbours in games I have played. Therefore they are not necessarily people who hold to the same life views or philosophies I do. This is great because it broadens perspective, and perhaps by sharing my ideas it may influence some of them.
However, I have very strong views about religion, God and all forms of worship, and how these tenets influence society as a whole. I have had a friend list well over 800 people in the past. Some of those not with me anymore have deleted me, either because I no longer play the game, or perhaps my views have been unpalatable to them. That’s cool. Some of those that are no longer there I have deleted because I feel violently opposed to the bullshit (my opinion) that they are spreading. By removing them I limit the exposure of their posts to my friend list, and I remove the temptation to go postal on their asses.
This is only a tiny protest, but if enough people feel the same, then eventually the ground swell becomes tidal and the opinions get washed away.
Censorship should apply only a personal level. If you do not want to share, view or aid in the dissemination of certain opinions, then I recommend you take control of your page by allowing only what you want to see. You can remain friends with someone but change your settings so that you don’t automatically see their posts in your news feed. You can still visit their page, but you are in control of your own viewing.
Before you hastily begin limiting what you expose yourself too, ask yourself this: If something is so offensive or upsetting to you, is it because your moral core is pricking you? Have you always wanted to do more, but laziness or apathy keep saying, “yeah yeah, I’ll get around to it”? Do you have time to take action? If not, then scroll faster or hit the delete and block button.
In a universe of very few absolute right and wrongs, I believe that suppressing another person’s viewpoint, regardless how unpleasant, is Wrong.
FOOTNOTE: As this is my blog, I retain the right to remove any comments I see fit. That being said, my firm goal is to not censor any opinion shared in my comments. The only exception would be if something crossed a legal boundary that could impact on me (yes, I still have to function within a society if I hope to change it). I would hope that even if you disagree strongly with me, or with anyone who ventures a comment, that you will refrain from engaging in irrelevant personal attacks. I will not respond to any, ever, and you only devalue any merit you may have had in your argument. Please attempt to keep your rhetoric on topic.
The best thing about FB to me has been the gradual widening of my friends list from games. I’ve “met” many people and have been exposed to many ideas that I otherwise would not have known, even though I am an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been introduced to architects, poets, writers, and heard political ideas that I still do not agree with but which leaves me with a better understanding of those positions than what I’ve heard spouted by talking (rather, yelling) heads on TV. Viva la difference, I say! After all, we all share the human experience.
And if someone or something offends us, we still have the option of turning off the TV, deleting or blocking an FB friend, shutting the book, and, as a last resort , closing our minds. We control our lives, far more than we believe.
Oh I agree wholeheartedly with this post! I too think that everyone has a right to express an opinion and I also agree that if you don’t want to read it, then move on, or tell me why.
There is a finesse to expressing an opposing view that most folks on Facebook just do not have though. They prefer to PUT EVERYTHING IN CAPS with lots and lots of these!!!!!!!!! Or they flat out call you names and curse your future progeny with affliction and disease.
From your lips to their ears. I too have high hopes for social media and it can all be accomplished one friend request at a time.
I am going to subscribe to your blog because it rocks so far 🙂
Thank you. Welcome. Feel free to disagree with me anytime. I love that you finesse. Xoxo