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The Paradox of Self Censorship: Unveiling the Hidden Dangers of Society's Silent Voices
Is staying silent to keep the peace helping or destroying us?
2020 brought a cultural shift that still remains today. In the midst of this, everyone on social media became a political activist whether they knew what they were talking about or not. It was trendy to post your little black square or the overused cute graphics with a quote that no one could deny to push a political agenda. And then, on the opposite end of the political spectrum, there were those who disagreed with the mainstream, and largely felt staying silent was the best option - but was it really?
To set the scene, it’s 2020 and I’m living in America’s finest city, getting ready to enter my senior year at San Diego State University - I’m sure you can take a guess as to what the political climate was in the area at that time.
After an entire summer of seeing everyone change their bios and enter into the world of politics, often only on one side - I wondered, where is the other side? You grow up learning that there are two sides to every story, and without hearing both sides your view remains relatively biased. That about sums up 2020 in the world of social media and even in the world, as people falsely felt it would be better for society to appease the crowd than stand for truth.
We have all heard of censorship when it comes to big tech, but what about self-censorship? Self-censorship is defined as “the exercising of control over what one says and does, especially to avoid castigation”. This phenomenon has snuck its way into the daily ritual of most Americans’ lives, and for many, it is purely subconscious. What used to be political correctness has morphed into speaking the socially acceptable narrative despite personal beliefs in order to keep the peace, your job, your friends, and sometimes even your family.
While society has been conditioned over the last three years to believe that staying silent or agreeing with things in public that they oppose in private is the best option - history tells us that it’s not. In his book Live Not By Lies, Rod Dreher explains that a society that is willing to give up the truth for public peace and harmony is allowing a softer, more therapeutic form of totalitarianism to come alive. Soft-totalitarianism appeals to one’s desire for harmony, a ‘just’ society, and prioritizing personal pleasure over political liberties. Survivors of communist regimes will tell you that soft-totalitarianism is already here and when you abandon truth to keep the peace, totalitarianism is welcomed.
“When people grow accustomed to living in lies, shunning taboo writers, and conforming to the official story, it deforms their way of thinking, says Grygorenko — and that is very difficult to overcome”
excerpt from Rod Dreher, “Live Not By Lies”. Vladimir Grygorenko and his wife immigrated from Ukraine to the US in 2000
When I came to the realization that I too was participating in self-censorship, I spoke up. In doing so, I became aware of just how much we have lost the ability to have substantive discussions on issues that matter. Having a difference of opinion, perspective or view has become grounds to dismiss relationships and cancel individuals instead of an invitation for healthy debate and growth. A society that is not growing is dying and that is what we will become if we refuse to keep alignment with truth despite culture.
I challenge you to have the courage to speak what you think, wisdom in your words, and grace towards those you encounter. Only then will we be able to move away from the soft totalitarianism we have welcomed and closer to a society of individual thought and growth.