Friday, December 28, 2007

The Glory of Self-Censorship

Another thought sparking across my mind lately is the topic of censorship. Censorship is a bad word, right? I have seen a friend of mine (if I'm allowed to use the word, BiV?) talk about beginning to censor herself only to get jumped on by a few people. "What?! You can't censor yourself! What a travesty! What a disaster!!!" I'd like to disagree. Self-censorship is a sign of maturity and well-developed self-awareness.

Now, I'm not advocating censoring something merely because it is controversial. The ability to censor oneself and to think before one speaks (or writes), however, is vital. Mind-vomit, whether oral or written, can cause irreparable damage. Internet mind vomit, for the best example, can easily become immortalized. Your bad day might translate into quotations spread across the internet and used in ways you couldn't possibly have imagined, sometimes to attack the things you hold most dear. Before we invent mental gunpowder, I believe we ought to at least examine the possibility that it might be used for more than just pretty fireworks.

With the advent of the internet, suddenly people with no qualifications necessary are streaming information out into public space. Some of this information is better than other information. Often opinions are spread as facts - the more controversial they are, the faster they spread. The drive to titillate, to be recognized in the wider world, often supersedes our better sense. It is vital that we literary laymen think before we write.

Venting has its place, but that place is not the internet. Not unless you want your periodic venting to illustrate others' perceptions of you until the end of time. As members of the Church we have a particular responsibility to represent the Lord "at all times and in all things, and in all places" of our lives. We have promised God that we would do so by our baptism. Those times, things and places include the internet. If we use the internet - the most public forum conceivable - to spew forth every petty criticism our minds can think up, we not only endanger our own testimonies, we are also responsible for all who read those words. Once it's out there, you can never erase it.

No, you shouldn't hide the questions and the problems you have. But, rather than criticizing and complaining, demonstrate how to work through these problems with faith, patience and humility. Show them how a disciple of the Lord behaves. We all have our own Lights of Faith to shine out into the darkness. Don't replace the pure light of faith with the neon sign of controversy. Don't cover your light with the basket of discontent. You'll find if you cover it long enough, it will go out.


  1. Some important points indeed! I regret some of the things I have said online in the past. I am responsible for what I say.-Barb

  2. Fabulous post! Thanks.


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