Thursday, July 18, 2013
Iíve been thinking the last few days about oneís ability to express themselves and where they draw the line between their right to say something and whether it does any good to say it. Obviously by law in both the U.S. and Canada we have a right to free speech. We can pretty much say what we want and then claim right to free speech. Whether it offends, harms or hurts anyone doesnít matter.
Recently I noticed some kerfuffle (good word hey?) on someoneís blog about the fact that their previous blog had been deleted by the SP moderators and they were upset and angry and felt it was their right to write whatever they wanted and if people didnít like it or it offended them then they should just not read their blog. Now, I never read the offending blog but from description it sounds like it was some sort of off-colour joke that demeaned a group of some sort and it offended some people and then those people complained and thus SP removed the blog. The argument though that it was their blog and they can write what they want only goes so far. Yes, itís their blog, they are the author. However, it is hosted by a company that clearly has Ďfinal rightsí on what is said (ever tried to SPmail or blog a message with a swear word in it? haha) and that clearly wants to encourage comradery, support and friendship between its members rather than alienation. If this blogger had posted the offending joke on their blog that they were paying to host or even on one of the free blogging sites that claimed no control on content, then sure, they have a right to write whatever they want. But the fact of that matter is, they didnít. They posted it on SP and thus were acquiescing to the rules established by SP.
The bigger question though is why was it okay to blog about it at all in the first place? Ok sure, people are overly sensitive in this day and age, Iíll give you that. But on the other hand, this world is overly cruel too and it seems for no apparent reason than to push some people down to make others feel better or more superior. And maybe they donít even consciously notice this or believe it but in the end, thatís the result.
My intention here is not to continue the right to free speech argument so I want to concentrate my thoughts on a more personal level. What Iíve been contemplating are the differences and similarities between the things that I think, the things that I CAN say, and the things that I DO say.
One of the side effects of depression is that the negative self-talk in my head often manifests itself in my Ďoutside voiceí. The things coming out of my mouth may not Ďsoundí mean to me when Iím saying them because everything going through my head is mean, itís dark, itís defeating and itís all about bringing people down to my level so theyíre just as miserable as me (and this is most entirely an unconscious habit and behaviour). But sometimes, just sometimes, I actually hear myself (or someone else does and calls me on it). I hear the words coming out of my mouth, which are a product of my mind, and I realize that they are harsh, vitreous and downright cruel sometimes. I meant them as a joke, I meant them to be funny, I thought it was funny so other people should too Ė but I didnít take the second to think about the audience and how I might be perceived before I said it. And why did I do it? What has it accomplished? A quick laugh by some people but hurt feelings by others? Is that a win Ė that half the people thought it was funny at the expense of the feelings of the other half?
In my recovery (and I do think of this as my recovery Ė recovery from depression, from emotional eating, from this prison that is my oppressive body and mind), I have been actively trying to incorporate something I saw somewhere, (and Iím sure youíve seen it around too), that really struck me: the THINK policy. I have been working hard to think before I speak or write, anticipating its reception and determining if that is what I want the result to be.
I examine the five questions:
T - is it TRUE?
H - is it HELFPUL?
I - is it INSPIRING?
N - is it NECESSARY?
K - is it KIND?
Donít get me wrong Ė Iím not perfect at this. In fact, I screw up more often than I Ďcheck myself before I wreck myselfí. But slowly and surely, I am improving. And this slow improvement also helps the thought processes scrolling through my mind to be more kind to myself and those around me. Itís not about free speech. Itís about respect of my fellow human beings, about caring about them, about nurturing a world in which kindness is the go-to action and not tearing people down. Unless the subject matter is yourself, in which case you are your own expert and can say what you like about yourself (but even then, if itís negative, youíre better off not saying it), then I think people need to use the THINK policy more often.