Thursday, May 5, 2011

Self Censorship: the challenges of being so &@*% Outspoken!

This is a battle I face more times than I care to admit. Well, until now. A recent incident occured over the social network stream of facebook that sent me into a familiar personal battle of self censorship. For those of you who know me, it's hardly a secret that I'm progressive in my political and religious views and I broadcast my opinions in a outspoken fashion. I tweet, I facebook, I Foursquare and I just started blogging. Clearly I feel comfortable in broadcasting my life. I broadcast all my interests of the day from posting photos of my colorful dishes (to showcase my love for cooking I posted a photo below)to posting and commentating on news links (as you can imagine, I'm bit of a news junkie).

My friends and family represent a wide range of political and religious views. I have always welcomed debating politics and religion or any hot topic of the day with those who hold a different view than my own. I love exchanging commentary as long as it's done so in an intelligent and respectful way that can be supported with facts. However, one of personal pet peeves are the common FB postings that many FB peeps cut&paste & re-post that they did not author themselves, like a chain mail. Specifically, I'm referring to the guilt or fear infused ones that make you feel like a bad person or unAmerican somehow if you do not agree with the hate-filled rhetoric. This concept is immoral on so many levels. It plays on the vuneralbility of the "sheep mentality" folks. Many of these postings are based on lies or stereotypes that are not factual plus the "re-post this if you love America..." slant preys on these folks to not add their own original thoughts or bother to fact-check first. Basically, it preys on the less educated to STAY uneducated on what's going on in the world while pushing propaganda for someone's else's agenda. Think I'm over-reacting? You can look at many examples of powerful shifts in political rise of powers throughout history to see that I'm spot-on.

Anyway, recently a family member that represents the polar opposite of my political/religious views, who has a long history of posting these non-factual hate "re-post this" rants, posted such a FB broadcast. Because this person is family, I have maintained a long history of groaning then biting my tongue whenever I read these postings. Another family member that I admire a great deal because she's well-read, well-spoken and compassionate, is also from the opposite end of my political spectrum. But while we may disagree, we have always been able to discuss heated topics respectfully and intelligently. After a long history of self censorship, I decided to apply this same approach to the family member of cringe-worthy postings. HUGE mistake.

I carefully crafted my messaging to explain my concerns with such postings and articulated the reasoning behind my beliefs, but I also made a point to find middleground by crediting the merits of Pres. Bush's endeavors to the long journey of the Osama Bin Laden hunt. I ended my response by addressing the idea that we are all patriotic Americans and therefore we are all on the same team. I read responses from her friends and our mutual family members that reflected a firestorm. Ultimately, she felt attacked, others stated I was mean-spirited and somehow I came across as the bully. HUH? When I asked my husband how I possibly went so wrong in simply expressing my views, he said, "sometimes it's more important to be effective than right."

So, I deleted my responses and wrote my apology emails to those that seemed most offended then I stayed up til 2 or 3am filled with angst. I woke up wanting to withdraw myself from the world. Here I am again. I've been here before...many many times over. Finding the balance of being my spirited, sassy self yet not alienating others at the same time is a BIG challenge for me. I've always tried to keep my political/religious views quiet at my jobs so my social network streams have always been my outlet. Now I feel like I'm torn. Again. It's important to me to respect others and allow them to feel "heard". But how do I do this if it can be so one-sided. It seems silly to only communicate honestly to my more liberal friends and family. I like mixing it up so either side may learn from the other. We may find we have more in common than dissimilar.

Something tells me I will create yet another firestorm with this blog. Perhaps I should only write my honest thoughts in a hand-written journal tucked away in a night table? Not my style to NOT broadcast- so my angst continues...