The Digital world has a way of making us see things with more poignant clarity. It literally shows us griefs, pains, horrors, victories, and vindications from all over the world, delivered right to our own eyes by our proprietary screens.
That is part of the incredible gift – and danger – of the internet and the digital tools we use every day.
We see these commentaries, posts, events, and ascribe them meaning, sometimes too much meaning, or sometimes the meaning is so strong and resonant we are not able to see that there is a correlation in real life… or a pattern of events in real life which culminate in online content that, for seeing it on the screen, we cannot help but find impacting.
Below is a very thought-provoking article about the digital world, and why it is important to examine what we could find challenging, upsetting or offensive before we respond with an abreaction of condemnation or censorship.
From where have these ideas which so offend us sprung?
Are they unfounded, or is the content of their message that so besmirches, offends or shocks us a product of a series of events which have been occurring in reality? Have we perhaps failed to address these events to the point where we then see it online?
Seen on the screen, while it does it challenge or offend, it perhaps also drives us to think, just for a moment – why would the content be created thusly? Have I done something to contribute to the making of it, through not only what I’ve said or done, but what negative behaviours, abusive situations or discriminatory actions I have allowed to perpetuate in real life through silence or even through indulgence?
Even blatant misinformation or ‘conspiracy theories’ perpetuate due to a lack of community conversation, inter-subgroup interaction and an open-hearted desire to listen, share and learn… not just to facts, figures or outlooks, but to the pain, frustration, alienation, abuse and suffering of those communities who may perpetuate it. If we censor this content or demand its removal because it offends sensibilities, we are also perpetuating those events and circumstances which caused the offensive online material to be created… and thus, we increase our own culpability for maintaining structures, behaviours or attitudes which are toxic to open expression of thought, inclusivity, healthy communities, rational thinking and safe spaces in real life and online.
Take a read, and ask yourself if the last thing you saw online which offended or challenged you might not have had a long-standing story behind it.