Self Censorship

On October 1, I changed the theme of my blog for the first time in three years, and asked you guys if there was anything you wanted to see me write about. ShoutAbyss  posed this question to me:

 How did you decide you are an atheist? Do you out your atheist beliefs or keep them in the closet?

I realized, as I read the comment, that when it comes to my blog, I really do keep a lot of things in the closet. I censor myself. I rarely, if ever, use the swear-words that I use both in everyday life and in much of my fiction. I try not to touch tricky subjects like politics or religion. I don’t share my deepest darkest secrets – or, if I do, I try to mask them in story form or in poetic prose, and I attempt to shield my exact meaning. This last makes sense – there are people who read this blog who actually know me, and sometimes I want to discuss things that they might not know about me and that I’d rather not share with them. This is natural. Anyway, writing about my personal life through other kinds of media is an interesting challenge and I enjoy it.

But why do I censor my politics, my religious opinions, my coarse and often vulgar language?

I think I’m scared. Scared to alienate readers. Scared to have people challenge me on my ideas. To be fair, when it comes to politics, while I have solid ideas and opinions of my own, I don’t feel comfortable expressing them when I’m ignorant of many of the facts. The title of this blog has always, whether you knew it or not, alluded to my weird reluctance to read the news and educate myself properly on what’s going on in the world. I’m less ignorant now, and I listen to NPR and read the New Yorker, and I feel more informed, but I still feel the childish ignorance rise up in me when I’m called to defend my opinions.

When it comes to religion… well, that’s a very sensitive subject to a lot of people, and it’s one that I feel extremely strongly about. I also know that I have various readers who have their own strong opinions, and yes, I don’t wish to alienate them or push them away from me. I’m probably not giving them enough credit – they’re all open, intelligent people, and I’m fairly certain that they wouldn’t forsake me because my opinion differs than there own. And yet – and yet I still haven’t written about how I feel on this subject (unless, of course, I have and I’m not remembering it. Which, in three years of blogging, is entirely possible.)

Finally, when it comes to the profanities, I think that I don’t use them because a) yes, they make many people uncomfortable, but also because b) there are stronger, more interesting words for me to use, and it’s a fun challenge to write differently than I speak.

So am I censoring myself? No doubt. Despite all my lovely rationalizations above, I’m still aware that it probably all stems out of fear of being rejected. Approval matters to me a lot more than I feel comfortable admitting. But maybe, in censoring myself, I’m managing to explore some other sides of me, my mind, and my writing.

How about you? Do you feel like you censor yourself on your blogs?

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13 thoughts on “Self Censorship

  1. Honey, I’m a white southern baptist whose hubs works for the government and am as conservative (politically) as they come. However, I sell wine for a living & swear like a sailor. It doesn’t make me a lot of friends at the dd’s Christian school so my blog is mostly anonymous. I share with the world what I don’t share with those I see every day. Ridiculous now that I think about it! Thanks for the insight. I’ll be following 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment! I think that contradictions exist in all of us, as they should, because without them, how would we be interesting? I do completely understand why your blog is anonymous, though, and I think that one of the beauties of having a blog is being able to do that while still sharing your writing with other people.

  2. What a thoughtful answer. Thanks for considering my question.

    In my town, being an atheist is decidedly not an easy thing to do or admit. There are many times I keep it on the down low. Once I get to know someone enough, though, and I think they can handle it, I’ll let them know.

    As far as the blog goes, yes, there are many times I censor myself. I’m always second guessing if I’ve gone too far or I’m about to cross a line. Many times I decide to reign something in and never post it, because I’m worried it will offend. Sometimes, though, I just let it fly. More often than not it turns out well and I realize I was being overcautious.

    Like in most things, the basics make sense. “To thine own self be true.” 🙂

    • Really, Shout? You seem so open on your blog! I’m always in awe of how you’re comfortable with sharing your opinions (and rants) like you do, and I really appreciate it since I love reading them! I think you shouldn’t worry, since your readership is clearly aware of your style and keeps coming back anyway :).

  3. I don’t censor my thoughts, really. Though, because my blog is a writing blog, controversial subjects like politics don’t come up. Early on in G&L’s schedule, I posted quite a bit about my Pagan beliefs, though. I try not to swear too often on my blog… I don’t know why. I guess because it sounds unprofessional in some ways. Even though my fiction is chock full of cursing. Haha.

    Just so you’re aware, I’ll love your posts no matter how uncensored they may become! ❤

    • Yeah, I wish I had ever managed to actually fit my blog into a specific category, but I can’t do it, so occasionally I’ll want to write about something controversial and then I’ll stop myself…

      Indeed, swearing does – or can – sound unprofessional, I guess. Although when I was at an interview for a big literary agency in New York City a couple weeks ago, the recruiter was throwing around the curse-words so often that I felt quite comfortable :P.

  4. Chloe [Photographer] says:

    i will admit, i am rather censored on my own blog, there are so many things i’d like to write about
    but i aim to try to keep my blog as a site i can refer people to, when they ask to see my art

    i dont think there’s anything wrong with censoring yourself, or not

    • Since your blog really is a photography oriented one, I can understand that.

      I suppose you’re right – I don’t know why it bothers me that I censor myself… Maybe it really shouldn’t.

  5. Erin M says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, Ilana!

    Can definitely relate to this post. I worry a lot about whether what I write on my blog will alienate people. I have very strong opinions about a lot of things, but I’d rather not offend people unnecessarily (‘unnecessarily’ is sort of a vague term . . .).

    My censoring mechanism is kind of faulty, though, and only when I read back through some of my posts do I realize that I probably shouldn’t have written what I did. Reckless, silly me. =\

    And I definitely don’t swear as much on my blog (or in polite company) as I do in ‘real’ life; bad words are fairly easy to omit, and doing so hopefully makes readers more comfortable.

    Love you! And don’t worry about having to censor yourself on my account.

    Hope things are going well with you!
    xoxoxoxo

    • Aw, sweetie, I’ve never read anything on your blog that I thought was reckless or silly! But yeah, exactly, strong opinions ==> offending people, and I like to try and avoid that as well, I guess.

      Love you too, deary!

  6. I LOVE THE NEW LOOK here. It’s so warm and cozy.

    I keep certain things to myself. My blog turned into something I didn’t expect and most of the people who come there are in my real everyday life so lying isn’t an option. If my blog were hidden and nobody I knew “for real” came, I’d be a lot different I think. I feel as a mother and grandmother, I owe “something” to my kids so I keep a reserve about things and how I say things and even what I say. I never write something without asking first and in my own private life, in my house, I can swear like a sailor too but in public I never do. I’m not sure why. It wasn’t accepted when I was growing up. “Proper” young ladies and educated people just didn’t curse in public and when I write something I have to remember that my grandchildren could read it someday so I’m very aware of what I say.

    But I love you just the way you are and no matter what, you can’t get rid of me.

    • Aw, Joy…. You made tears come into my eyes. Thank you!

      I agree, your blog has become such a family endeavor, sort of a place to share all sorts of things, that you can’t really put certain things on there – but then again, you do introduce difficult subjects and have discussions in the comments about them, and I think that’s very admirable.

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