Self-censorship is the act of controlling what one says and does, particularly to avoid criticism. This is practised by many to avoid unnecessary situations. Although it is advised by many scholars to practice this attribute, alternately, it is not entertained by too many people. Many people call this practice to be a hindrance to freedom of speech. This is the way to stop someone’s voice over some issues or some particular matter.
If someone self-censors out of tension or fear that their words might bring some governmental retribution, they cannot criticize properly. In a democracy, people have the right to say anything about everything. There should not be any restrictions. But self-censorship can make someone stop their voice and this does not allow someone to explore their own ideas. Freedom of speech cannot be found in that case. Many rules and regulations are there which cannot be criticized due to such self-censorship.
In personal aspects as well, people can easily be driven against their own views. For example, in our personal life, if someone is doing something wrong, we cannot say anything because that person might get hurt or someone related to that person, who is very close to us, might get harmed. So, we remain silent. In our corporate life, some colleagues might be wrong. We cannot complain about that senior colleague due to the fear of getting confronted by him. There can be some issues which remain unsettled due to such self-censorship.
We all seem to act self-censorship from time to time. I have had the experience of writing a complete answer on social media and I thought it would be better to delete it before I pressed the “Submit” or “Publish” button. This is self-censorship. I did this due to the fear of others’ bad comments. I could not share my ideas properly as it might become problematic for me to face my surroundings. I had the fear that someone might misunderstand me with that statement of mine or someone might consider me to be someone who I am not. So, to protect my self-image, I do not post many things on social media. This is not a wise decision to think that way but such thoughts cannot be avoided just because we practice to refrain ourselves from being negatively judged. So, this practice is refraining me from enjoying my freedom of speech.
The reality is that most of us were grown up in highly censored environments. In such an environment, the editor of the local newspaper is the main censor. Not a single story can be published without his consent. He or she is the person who randomly decides what stories are important and the way of presenting those stories is also decided by him. So, if this is the environment, one cannot get the chance to express ideas. Also, in the houses, parents and other relatives are there to teach us what to say and what not to say. This is a long-term practice that we have been through, and we cannot easily get rid of it. We habitually think of the consequences of expressing an idea and then we delete that post and rewrite it according to the expectation of the community as a whole. To some extent, we are trying to please our audience. We want a positive review or comment on anything we write or say. This has become a vicious cycle for us and we cannot get out of that cycle.
Self-censorship is making us stuck into the vicious cycle of pleasing others, rather than expressing our ideas and thoughts.