My mother called me a few weeks ago to tell me she didn’t like the language used in a link I shared via Facebook yesterday. I believe her comments included “shocked” and “what would HER friends and relatives think?” Mind you, I’m 50 years old and connected to very few of her friends and relatives. I don’t do a lot on Facebook probably because I’m a reasonably private person but every once in a while I think there’s something that needs to be said or shared. Usually it’s pictures of baked goods I made. Occasionally it’s political.
Here’s my take on the whole thing: Facebook is social. But social isn’t all ice cream, unicorns and cat videos, you know? (Altho I love me some cat videos.) Sometimes you’re just pissed off about something and you spew that out socially too. Daily I hear people I know (and sometimes even like) say things I completely disagree with. And you know what? They have every right to say those things in the words that they choose.
Now here’s my right: I can either listen and respond, listen and move on or just ignore it. Whichever I choose to do, well, it’s up to me. Same thing goes to all of you. If you don’t like something someone shared or said or something someone else has said, then you’re free to ignore it. Nifty thing is Facebook allows you to ignore me or unfriend me entirely, too. Ahh the beauty of electronic friendship.
Censorship starts with the listener, not the writer. As a person who spends her days surrounded by words, I agree that any writer or speaker is free to say what he or she wants. I’ve even defended political candidates and nut-job pundits with this same argument. How we react to these thoughts as the audience, however, that’s what matters. And it’s going to be different for each of us because we all have our personal takes on just about any subject. Hopefully we all think about a subject, dig in and do a little research. Maybe we even get past the mechanics of the delivery, although that can be tough sometimes. If the words get in the way, then tune out.
I have yet to unfriend or hide someone because of their politics or social beliefs. It’s good to see what people are thinking and saying sometimes because if we rely on our own Google searches and media of choice for all of our news, we’ll just hear thoughts that preach to the choir – and how does that expand the mind? It’s also great to know that we’re not like everyone else in our thoughts and the ways we select to express ourselves. The world would be really dull if everyone were just like me (even I know I’m incredibly boring).
I try to teach my own children that words are a beautiful thing. Words have the ability to teach and express and evoke emotion in both the writer and the audience. They can affirm beliefs or change opinions. And sometimes even ones that aren’t “the best” words, aren’t pretty, sugarcoated or covered by a scared kitty cat meme deserve to be spoken and shared.