Do you censor yourself on social media?

The advent of social media outlets have made a small world even smaller.  Friends of yesteryear and family rarely seen or heard from have been brought back together via Facebook, Twitter and other internet social mediums.  In addition to reconnecting with family and friends, people voice their views on an array of topics for others to read.  We often see inspiring quotes from notables of history or links to headline making news stories with a clever or witty comment.  Often people — myself included – make use of their own personal billboard to express religious, spiritual, political, and social views.

I’m sure we’ve all been unfriended, unfollowed, or un-whatevered by people we know for expressing our views on particular subjects, or perhaps even for disagreeing with theirs.  Over the past couple years, I’ve intentionally remained silent on a couple specific hot-button social issues.  I find that some people are far too sensitive to handle disagreement on certain positions they hold so dear.  Maybe I shouldn’t censor myself, but I do on two subjects in particular.

This speaks to a greater problem I think: there is what seems like a large number of people who like to hold beliefs because of its social popularity.  I’m convinced these people view outlets such as Facebook as ”safe” places to pontificate their views on controversial topics without fear of being confronted or questioned about them.  Feel free to like what I say, or keep your opinions to yourself, is the attitude with these people.  They want their ‘friends’ to be social media “yes-men”.  These are the kinds of people who will not discuss controversial issues elsewhere, like in public or at social gatherings, and they exploit the unspoken expectation of politeness from their friends.  So when someone comes along and doesn’t conform to the implied agree or hush, it comes as quite a shock.

I can only guess that these people think social media outlets are semi-private, like a gathering in one’s living-room.  I disagree.  My view is that any time you voice an opinion — especially on the internet — it is open to criticism.  There’s no shelter because you are amongst ‘friends’.  Unfortunately, the only way to dilute over-sensitivity is to do away with both the self-esteem movement and the idea that moral, political, religious, and spiritual issues are mere matters of preference rather than truth.  In reality, some ideas are right and others are wrong.  The kinds people who get bent out of shape over disagreement or difference of opinion place a high value how their views make them feel, and not enough value on whether they’re true.

So whether you are updating your status, tweeting, or blogging, when voicing your opinion on controversial topics, understand other people have an opinion too.  If you are sensitive to criticism or opposing points of view, I suggest you — and not they — keep it to yourself.

Do you censor yourself on social media?  Are there topics you won’t discuss because of the tension it creates?  Should you?

Comments

  1. I keep my Facebook posts positive. Kids, wife, fun things. Very rarely will I bring up politics or complain about mundane crap.

    It’s my friends and family. No reason to burden them.

    • That’s probably the ideal. I’ll post news articles, some political or religious graphics, and I dont often comment on other’s posts. I dont really even know why I’m on social media when I think about it.

  2. In general I post two kinds of things to social media: random funny things from my family and my blog, which is religious in nature. I do censor myself to some degree (in that I don’t say everything that’s on my mind) and I am probably more careful on social media than in other aspects of life. For some issues, I feel it is just more constructive to have conversations in person, where I can communicate with greater empathy/nuance, then I can on social media.

  3. No filters at all.

    I mix the occasional pics of the kids with political/science/philosophy/art etc. essays/findings/pics, but mostly politics. The ratio is probably is only 5% kids.

    I also didn’t friend anyone, they all sent me the requests, and with that, I said my thread would never be positive and upbeat just for the sake of it. So no need to filter, they know, or should know by now, what my feeds will look like.

    I also do not accept any requests from friends of friends. This 1 degree of separation is what leads to so much of this trivial online drama.

    And yes about 15% of my friends and family I am sure have me blocked, and only 2 over the years have ever been so disturbed by anything I posted that they had to remove me.

  4. I first got on FB at the request of my siblings, and initially all my “friends” were siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews. Then I mentioned being on FB on one of the blogs I follow (I posted an article from that blog) and then I ended up with about 6 or 7 “blog buddies.” Then I ended up having some of my real friends and some others from church, leading me to a whopping 56 (the last one being an old Army buddy who just found me a few weeks back)! Now, 90% of my family are conservatives who are always posting conservative things. Most of us are gun owners and 2nd Amendment stuff flies. A few of us use FB to post Christian stuff in an effort to reach those in my family who are not believers. ETC.

    However, there is ONE subject I’ve had to drop and not post on because one sister is so brainwashed as to not be teachable and all it does it get her upset. The subject has to do with American Indians – just about any permutation of that subject you can think of. So I ceased commenting on her posts dealing with that subject and I refuse to engage conversations on that subject. I don’t find it beneficial to cause a ruckus for that.

  5. brycelancaster says:

    I post links to political articles all the time. I’m sure I’ve been de-friended for it, but that’s okay. If somebody is that sensitive to an argument I probably don’t want to be “friends” with them anyway.

    I’m also very tolerant of other people posting articles that I don’t agree with. I live in Utah, so about 75% of my friends are Mormons. I see links all the time talking about their opposition to Gay Marriage, “Hate the sin love the sinner” mentality. I don’t unfriend people for posting that, since they don’t unfriend me for posting my articles. Every so often I’ll comment if I know the person very well, and every so often they’ll comment on mine. My old church leader and I have frequent discussions on each other’s political statuses. I think the banter is healthy.

    The only time I’ve unfriended people due to status updates is when they use slurs which I find offensive. If they post an argument that I disagree with, that’s fine. But if it’s just a derogatory, hateful update, I really don’t want to see that on my newsfeed.

  6. Politics is likely the primary subject throughout my Facebook feed, as you know John. And I’ve been unfriended by people more times than I can count because of it. I’ve come out against same-sex marriage and been unfriended several times; I’ve come out against Mormonism and been unfriended; I’ve come out against President Obama and been unfriended; I’ve come out against liberal tax polices and been unfriended.

    Finally, I’ve come out against abortion and been unfriended,. And really, this is the stupidest one. My profile picture is of me and my wife with duck-tape over our mouths, with the word “LIFE” scribbled across the front. Did they really think I was indifferent to the subject? Idiots.

    Sometimes I let things go just to save an argument. I’ve got too many friends to count who favor same-sex marriage, always posting little gay equality symbols. I don’t usually say anything because it’s not worth the argument. Except when my brother posts stuff like that. LOL. He can’t really unfriend over something as stupid as politics, being my brother and all, so I go after him all the time.

  7. As I’m sure you know, I don’t censor much of my opinions on social media. I purposely try to maintain friendships on Facebook with my more conservative friends and enjoy when one of them jumps into a conversation. I don’t think it is totally possible to avoid the “echo chamber effect”, but I have been careful to try and avoid having my wall be a place where my opinions just get reinforced by people who agree with me.

    There are very few topics I maintain some level of self censorship. I can think of maybe one topic, and even then I usually post it but change my options to hide the post from the four people who would be offended.
    My favorite conversations usually include input from people who disagree with me. I also find dissenting opinions are a great way to learn something about those friends I have who usually agree with me. How do they handle dissenting opinion? I have had to come to the defense of people I squarely disagree with more than once (Usually, it’s John Barron), both in the thread itself or in private messages. I don’t mind it. I would actually love to have MORE conservatives on my friends list, so long as they are open to debate and being questioned.
    To be perfectly honest, John ranks in my top 5 favorite Facebook friends.

    • Is there anything anyone avoids because you know it might upset a specific person if they see your view on it (even if they know your view already)?

      • Kind of.
        As I have mentioned to you before, my sister-in-law is a Muslim. Though my family has a pretty good grasp on what my views are, I purposely change my “options” of who sees posts if I post about Islam.
        I do this only because it would cause discord in my immediate family if I did not.

        • Maybe I’ll do that. I avoid altogether 2 topics because of family sensitivities.

          • You can change the post to be visible to “all friends but” and choose as many people from your list as you like. I have the six people who don’t see my posts memorized. Just go to “custom” and fill in the names at the bottom.

  8. If any regular reader here wants to be on my Facebook, I’ll gladly have them. There is a link to my Facebook profile on my blog.

  9. I don’t feel it necessary to hide my opinions on anything. Of those opinions that would provoke the most controversy, they are those I feel need to be out there and discussed, consider, pondered, rolled around and investigated more deeply by more people. It is in the vein of trying to add my voice to what I know is the better point of view regarding an issue that has great impact on the culture. I don’t see it as wise to allow the wrong opinion the only publicity.

    At the same time, if I self-censor in any way, it is usually as regards harsh or profane language. I lost one friend, a niece, after a controversy erupted after indicating my displeasure with her purposeful use of foul language. In another case, I lost another after a discussion on SSM. The thing is, it wasn’t my opposition to that which she favored due to her lesbian sister, but that at the time of this discussion, I had shared the post of someone else that contained the word “pussy”. It had to do with people being easily offended, but the word was offensive to the woman, so she dropped me. While I understand the word has different meanings these days, I did not at the time believe the manner in which it was used in the post was more than another way of saying “wimpy”. I erred. In any case, I learned a lesson that I really was practicing anyway, and now I’m even more wary of the words I use.

  10. Okay, I admit. That was clever. LOL.

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