On Shadowbanning Yourself

There’s a little discussion going on today amongst bloggers I either follow on Mastodon or who are in my local feed. The topic is self-censorship, and because I don’t tend to engage in it myself, I’ve a few things to say because I knew in advance where the discussion would end up.

It’s always difficult for me to see this conversation because given the topic at hand, people don’t usually explain the specifics of what prompted them to think about it in the first place. The difficulty in that for me is that while for some the issue might be trying to avoid right-wing trolling, or even the occasional leftist critique of bring too centrist, inevitably it becomes something of a cover for people who are just bitter that they don’t always get to be their unrestrained problematic selves.

It becomes, in other words, the grievance of the privileged feeling sorry for themselves in a (thankfully) changing world.

There’s no way for me to know what specific subjects are on the minds of most of those in the conversation so far. However, that’s not true all the way around. Jason Kratz at the end of his post gives up the game.

There is no rational discussion of some of these topics, especially if you are white, male, and straight.

That’s right: whatever you might have thought before today, know that the truly beleaguered identity on the internet and in our society at large right now is “white, male, and straight”. The important context here to which Jason in all likelihood refers but doesn’t link are these two conversations where, in Jason’s words, “one person started up with racial, political, and other nonsense”. As you can see from the conversations, the purported nonsense was: (1) pointing out white, and often Christian, privilege, and (2) pointing out that generally speaking it was white people who supported Trump.

There’s no good-faith argument against either of those points, and it’s telling that the two main critics of Pratik stating these obviousnesses felt like they had to take their ball and go home, leaving the Micro.blog platform altogether. Telling in the sense of telling on themselves.

In no way am I suggesting that there aren’t good people with good things to say who sometimes run into the sour parts of the internet when they say them, but in every way I am suggesting—or, really, stating—that not all self-censorship on the internet is equal. In this day and age it is in fact incumbent upon the white, the male, and the straight to be considerate and deliberate in how they talk about some things.

That wouldn’t be self-censorship, it’d be community care. Sometimes the issue isn’t other people: it’s you.

Addenda

  1. Jason Becker’s idea that there are three types of self-censorship is interesting. As I said on Mastodon, that first group especially is a good point, but then of course if the issue at hand is lived experience that can get dicey when it intersects with the third group, who (legitimately) don’t always want to feel like they have to do the labor of educating people despite not wanting anyone in the first group to fall into the second group.

  2. Linking to Micro.blog conversations is tricky, but for fuller context this post and this discussion were at the heart of the to-do over there.

Referring posts