Yesterday after reading my blog Todd bleeped me. He tried to be gentle about it, but still it hurt. After you’ve been with someone for almost two decades you just assume you’ve come to a place where you no longer bleep each other. I’ve certainly never bleeped anyone and I can’t remember the last time someone bleeped me. It had to be college. Maybe high school. And even then I’m sure it was a stranger or a casual acquaintance.
I know what some of you are thinking: But Sean, he’s your husband. Well I don’t care if our formerly invalid marriage is now legal in 32 states, that still doesn’t give him the right to bleep me. How would he like it if I bleeped him?!
The trouble all started yesterday when I wrote:
Personally if I want to relax I’ll wash down a few pills with a glass of wine.
Okay, out of context it looks bad, but in the context of my blog, it was funny. Todd argued that my blog was on a community site — it could be read by anyone, including the caseworkers of children we might hope to adopt now or in the future. He pointed out that on the internet there was no context and that it was impossible to read tone. I wanted to argue, but he was right. I amended the statement to include an asterisk:
Personally if I want to relax I’ll wash down a few pills with a glass of wine.*
*I don’t actually do this.
At this point I should probably clarify that when I say Todd bleeped me, I mean to say that he censored me. I said he bleeped me because I knew it would get your attention. Also, it’s funnier.
In the same way that actions have consequences, so do words. Perhaps now more so than ever. In a world where the majority of our communication is done through text message, email, and social media we hide behind technology. It emboldens us. We say the first thing that pops into our heads without thinking of how those words will affect others. Or ourselves. We don’t bother with consequences because in the digital age there are no consequences.
Freedom of speech! The first amendment! The Constitution! Just because you think something doesn’t mean you have to give it a voice. And just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s worth being heard. If I gave voice to every thought I had during the day I would either be in jail or the psych ward, both involuntarily.
Censorship might be a dirty 10-letter word, but on some level it is necessary. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating some Nazi Germany police-state where censors burn books or Joseph McCarthy blacklists your favorite movie star. I am suggesting, however, that we practice a little bit of self-censorship, by which I mean, we think before we speak. Or type. We consider the power of the word, written and spoken.
Because we are those words. They define us. Choose wisely.