THE CENSORSHIP QUESTION

Rafii H. Ramon / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A Dose of Cath episode about ‘history of tattoos and female tattoos’. YouTube

Is there a need to censor social media in our society?

Let’s be more specific, do we need to censor social media influencers?

The issue prior to this one tackled about influencers in the marketing world. This time, the thin line that separates “freedom of speech” from “decency or censorship” and how these influencers acknowledge that line, if there is, in the way they express their thoughts online.

Anyone here thinks there should be a limitation on how the personalities we follow on social networking sites express themselves?

Yes and No

Yes, some say there is a need for restrictions similar to what is already in place for mainstream media. Such things that the society deems to be too intense or graphic and/or too sensitive for a particular audience. They say blocking a content that insults a particular group of people, or a photo that exposes an inappropriate scene will generate a healthier social media use.

But, no. Others believe there shouldn’t be any blockade. That every user should have the right to choose what he or she wants to read or write. With something in between, it would mean losing the right to express.

But how do we define that line?

Good judgment

A Cambodian feminist blogger, Catherine Harry or better known by her followers as Cath, shared her thoughts on how she weighs her contents despite receiving comments that she has become liberated and does not conform to the culture.

When asked how she responds to comments like that, she said, “I don’t think I am saying too much or that my contents warrant censorship. What I express is my dissatisfaction with the system that oppresses my sex and gender.”

She further expressed that whenever she talks about sex education she’s got no intention to twist the way Cambodians are living – traditio-

nally and culturally. For her, culture means the cultivation of knowledge and knowledge of sexuality, reproductive system and protection is vital to a country battling with poverty, STDs, and communicable diseases.

I like how she continued with, “perhaps, I am not saying enough.”

How does she draw the line?

“I think the line between freedom and censorship is to discern whether what you’ve said affects the existence of a race, or group of people. Whether you’re being willfully offensive and disregard or look down upon a certain person solely because of their skin color, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity.”

It’s all about how one judges a situation, in this case, a content.

Decreased Individuality

Ross Douthat, The New York Times op-ed columnist once wrote, “in the future, it seems, there will be only one ‘ism’ – Individualism — and its rule will never end. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide — and the greatest of these will probably be Facebook.”

With the “what’s ideal” social media showing through these influencers, how much of us is the real us?

An article from The Independent by Grace Fearon supports the idea that social media is the main cause of decreased individuality among young people.

“Yet, far from a true reflection of our character, perhaps our identity within society can become a carefully constructed illusion. Think about your own social media accounts, for instance – are they an honest representation of yourself? Or are you, perhaps, even unwittingly creating an image that is socially enhancing, one that will allow you to be perceived as popular or well-liked?”

But the platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are already giving their users the right to block and report messages or posts.

At the end of the day, with popular personalities and celebrities, there are indirect social constructs being built around a person’s appearance and their gender that pushes norms on users by providing images of what can be interpreted to be “good” or “ideal.”

Relatively ideal

Yes, censorship is a good thing because it guides us to the right path. But this is, by the way, relative. We all have our own definition of what’s right and ideal. What one influencer may say as acceptable is, at the same time, disrespectful to some.

That alone is a good reason to think twice what social media is telling us. Especially when it uses real people to influence us.

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