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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Internet Age and self-censorship

The internet is a fantastic tool.
It is great for education and learning.
It is great for communication.
It is great for the opportunity to find like-minded people in any niche.

The internet is also a fantastic tool to support intolerance.
Recently I have become aware of my own dislike of posts on facebook of certain people on my friends' list. The posts that offend me almost all have a similar context: they are pro-religion to the point of being anti-secular and they support suppression of the rights of others based on religious doctrine.

I disagree with their posts and the thoughts behind them. I do, however, support their right to make the posts (note: my statements that your posts are filled with hate and rage is not suppressing your right to free speech - it is exercising MY right to free speech).

What I have recently discovered is that my animosity toward those who think dramatically different from me is something I had not counted on. It is larger than I expected. It can be overwhelming at times. It is a form of intolerance. I am finding that the more I surround myself with people whom I agree with the more I like my life but also the less tolerance I am having for thoughts that I find ridiculous and overly out-dated or oppressive.

I am finding, therefore, the tool of the internet is a double-edged sword.
It has allowed me the growth opportunity to find many people with similar interests and then forced my level of tolerance to shrink when faced with people whom I am diametrically opposed to in belief.

I have, for this very reason, stopped un-friending people on facebook for having what I deem to be hateful posts based on religion. They are choosing to have their faith and they are choosing to embrace the "morality" that they (albeit erroneously) feel is correct and my de-friending them will NEVER change that. My de-friending them will only serve to remove me from their stream and, as a result, remove a voice of reason from their world view. Being selfish enough to remove the annoyance of their immoral beliefs that people should be allowed to be oppressed based on anything (really, seriously, there are no good reasons to oppress a people) means I am choosing to hide from the problem. Being narcissistic enough to leave my thoughts and comments in their news feed is, in this situation, a way to do good.

And, if they don't like it, they can always de-friend me from their end to stop the "insanity" of me vocalizing that all people should be treated equally.

I encourage everyone else to stop self-censoring the world that they experience so that they, too, can be exposed to the views and beliefs of others. You might learn something or, more importantly, you might teach someone else something important to them.

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