Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Censorship

Should blogs be censored? Is it ok to have hate blogs and sickly sweet blogs posting pictures of kittens (and nothing else, and not very good pictures of kittens either)? It is permissible to write whatever you want on your own blog based on the concept that it is your private space? Would you put up posters with the same writing on the outside of your house?

Censoring blogs is a very tricky idea. The government of India fell flat on its face when it tried to block Blogger last year. I for one found my blog within a few hours, because solutions were readily available, floated all over the cyberspace by indignant bloggers. Self-censorship is an even trickier prospect. How much private information is too much? The Mad Momma, Poppin's Mom and Crazymumma have all been facing their own private demons on this one.

My take on this is fairly simple, and there's a reason for this: I went through all this last year. When I was working and it got around that I blogged, my colleagues all logged on from time to time. Many even started blogs of their own. My bosses expressed some interest and also a degree of concern. The work we did was fairly hush-hush, since we were in the process of developing a new website-analysing software, and they didn't want me telling the world about it until it was ready. This led me to quickly go through my earlier posts to see if I had ever written anything that could be taken as adverse criticism of the company. Luckily, there wasn't. But I decided to leave my work out of my blogging, unless I felt like cribbing at the amount.

No sooner was this sorted out in my head than I got into very hot water over some alleged remarks that I had made to a certain person who was supposed to be a colleague of mine, which were derogatory to V's parents and which had come to their ears. It was awful since I never did hear of it directly, but it did drive V, me and my parents distracted. I never discussed personal issues at work and all my colleagues knew about me was my South India childhood and that I was lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who packed me lunches. Nor did I discuss this with any friend, because the only people I might have talked to about such personal troubles were not in town. I have no idea where the colleague angle came in but V and I eventually concluded that some person had heard about our problems and gone around gossiping and making things worse. Since V's mother had been fairly indiscreet in her anger, this was possible. This affected my blogging for a while, or at least, it made me reread my entire archives, because Cousin T insisted that I bitched about my in-laws over here. I don't think I did or do. I have from time to time mentioned stuff that happened last year but I think I have stuck to the facts. This helped me decide that I would write about whatever I wanted to. If I got into hot water without actually doing anything, then why on earth would I censor myself?

Nor do I hide it that things are much better now, and that The Bhablet has four very proud and happy grandparents.

I am a fairly honest person by nature. My lies are more those of ommission than commission. Even then, I prefer to not lie whenever possible, because, while I can lie fairly convincingly, I have an atrocious memory and frequently forget what the lie was. This can and has led to some trouble in the past. So when I got married, I told my mother that I was done with pretending to be a different person from who I was. My own family couldn't touch me any more, and I wanted to start with a clean slate. That was the attitude I brought to my blogging. I could have gone anonymous when I shifted to Blogger but I didn't see the point. I mentioned this before -- I don't say anything here that I wouldn't say in person or defend if necessary. If you didn't know it, that was because you didn't think to ask.

So my blog is me. Well, an aspect of me, anyway. There is a lot I choose to leave out -- but what I do write about is always honest and factually accurate to the best of my knowledge. If it offends you, I'm sorry, but it is my personal space, and I didn't invite you. You chose to come so it is not my responsibility if you don't like what you read. And accordingly, I tell my family to stay away from it. I know they might find the odd post upsetting. They certainly don't want to hear about my sex life or how murderous I get towards The Bhablet. Yes, I do decide what I want to write about or not, but that has more to do with what I am interested in at the time of posting. My censorship is entirely done by myself. And V, for whom I would remove a post if asked.

I think this is what a personal space is all about. A place where you can do what you want. So long as you are careful not to offend those whom you welcome to your space.

5 comments:

crazymumma said...

Great post...

my blog was found by my inlaws by accident and it was terrible. They did later admit that they had overreacrted, but I feel some damage has been done.

As to the issue of censorship...had I been painting, sculpting, dancing out my feelings, would they have had such a hysterical response?

Censorship is dangerous, yet our belief systems recoil at the thought of many things that are censored. So where is the line drawn? Who is the higher power who decides the rights and the wrongs.

These are all very important questions.

Poppins said...

I loved this post and CrazyMumma's response. To my sister's credit she behaved a LOT nicer than I would have if she had been writing nasty things about me.

I do regret writing about her, but I am with you on honesty. You are ofcourse more courageous because you do it in your own name, whereas I am supposedly anon (although the whole world seems to know me now! :)

Suki said...

You go girl, I'm proud of that attitude. :)

GettingThereNow said...

I like your attitutde - not too confrontational and not doormattish either. Hard to strike a balance like that.

Sue said...

Crazymumma -- They might have reacted so strongly to any such discussion of family issues, I think. My famiy did, for my acting (I used characters from my family!)

Poppin's Mom -- If it makes you feel any better, I still don't know who you are!

Suki -- Your encomium unwomans me!

GTN -- Well, I've had time to work it out. This did come overnight, I'll admit that.