The web is morphing and changing again. Let me make two observations:
- There’s a lot of scholarly work going on right now analyzing trends in online commenting, “shaming” – the practice of ganging up on somebody, trolling, anonymity versus identity and any number of variables involved in our online world.
- More and more of the larger websites have closed commenting systems because of negative reader behaviour. They’re trying to avoid the legal, moral or practical issues of dealing with the public in all its varied forms.
Which leads me to wonder how much these negative reactions influence what creative people are now sharing.
I Love To Play With Words
There’s a bit of “cheeky” in me that loves a play on words, loves the fun of tossing a double-entendre out into a conversation. But I’ve pulled that in tight to my chest in my online world. It seems writers or those who live online have to tread lightly or take the chance of facing the angry hordes.
So when I was scrolling through my images the other day, and one popped up, my mind went into cheeky overdrive on it and I added a tagline. Then I deleted it and didn’t post it.
Then I took a few minutes to think about what I had just done.
I modified my behaviour to avoid any possible conflict with somebody who disagreed with my sense of humour. I’d made a decision on what to publish based on the potential reaction of an unknown person who didn’t share my sense of playful fun?
I’d censored myself.
I Have Received Emails
Mind you, the only other time I got into trouble with somebody about a picture was when I posted a picture of a nude, pregnant female statue I’d made and I received a zinger of an email from a disgusted female reader. Boy was she annoyed and let me know in no uncertain terms this kind of statue shouldn’t be in a garden nor should it be posted online.
As I recall, I ignored her email (other than to chuckle about how terrible this statue was compared to other stuff online or in gardens).
But 5 years later, I still remember it.
At Issue Here
At issue is the entire problem of a public versus a personal persona. Are creatives different online than in public?
Am I different online than I am in personal life and by how much? The answer to that question is “yes” and “no”. Or, rather not as much as I used to be but probably more than I will be. And less than I’d like to be. The longer I write, the more relaxed I get (it only took a few million words) and I suspect if you hang around for another few years, you’ll see even more changes.
But still, I see the effect of political correctness and the simple fact that somebody, somewhere will be “outraged” by every statement that deviates from banal pablum.
So What’s My Point?
I found myself self-censoring to avoid potential problems, and I didn’t like the feeling of having done that.
It was a great learning curve for me and for my creative voice. I think I can avoid the nasty hordes with gardening information (he says hopefully) but the fiction world (where I’m coming to the end game before publishing) may be a different thing. I’ll have to get back to you on that side of things.
But I’m Curious
Do you folks ever self-censor something online? Do you hold back a comment you’d have loved to have made because of what others might say?