Self-censorship is censoring or restricting one’s own work (books, news, films and other means of expression) without overt pressure, with respect for the sensibilities of others and without interference from any authority.
What is Self-censorship?
Self-censorship is when a person avoids expressing themselves or stops saying something. Self-censorship means that an individual consciously censors himself, and it takes place as a result of the pressure that the individual creates within himself.
Reasons for self-censorship may include fear, shyness, culture of censorship, social pressure, lack of self-confidence, and fear of being judged. Self-censorship creates barriers for people to express themselves and affects freedom of thought and expression in society.
There are different types of self-censorship. Self-censorship, social self-censorship, and publisher self-censorship are the most common of these. Social self-censorship is when a person censors themselves due to social pressure. Publisher self-censorship is when a publisher censors or restricts certain topics.
History of self-censorship
Self-censorship has a long history and has been practiced in different cultures and periods. Here’s some information about the history of self-censorship:
In ancient Rome, self-censorship originated as the restriction of expressions used in official correspondence or documents. In particular, a senator or politician would use self-aggrandizing statements in documents to avoid anything negative being written about them.
In the Middle Ages, self-censorship mainly arose on matters related to religion and the church. In Christianity, church leaders often expressed their thoughts in writing or orally, but these expressions were often controlled by church leadership. For example, it has become common practice to restrict and censor statements that are inconsistent with the official views of the Church or that may harm the interests of the Church.
In modern times, self-censorship has emerged mainly in the media and broadcasting sector. Journalists and writers had to practice self-censorship, especially when they wrote about political or social debates. This was due to reasons such as the existence of oppressive governments, social pressures and legal restrictions.
Disadvantages of self-censorship
Self-censorship has a lot of personal, social and cultural damage and possible consequences. The effects of self-censorship vary greatly in terms of the harm that the person causes to himself, his environment and society.
- It is the inability to express oneself.
- It causes the person to avoid expressing their ideas, feelings and thoughts.
- It can damage self-confidence, cause insecurity and social phobia.
- Social self-censorship arises from the rules and expectations that society imposes on its individuals.
- It prevents the expression of different opinions and thoughts in society, and free thinking in society harms freedom of expression.
- It can also fuel discrimination and prejudice in society.
- Self-censorship can also negatively impact creativity and innovation.
- Self-censorship in areas such as art, literature, film and music prevents artists from expressing themselves.
- It prevents enrichment of the culture and can lead to monotony in society.
Why is self-censorship practiced?
Self-censorship is self-censorship and usually stems from fear of expressing your own thoughts or fear of being judged for expressing yourself. Self-censorship can have many causes. Here are some common causes:
Prejudice or fears
A person may be afraid of possible reactions from others when talking about a certain topic. These reactions can be an attack on the person themselves, but also create a stigma in society about the person’s ideas or behavior. Therefore, sometimes a person may use self-censorship to protect themselves or others.
If a person finds out how people around them think or feel about a particular problem, they may not want to isolate themselves from those thoughts. This can limit a person’s ability to exercise their free will and lead to self-censorship.
Some jobs, especially public jobs like media or politics, may have specific ethics. These rules do not allow a person to express their own personal ideas or beliefs. Therefore, the person may have to self-censor.
In some countries, it may be illegal to talk or write about certain topics. These prohibitions can lead a person to self-censor.
Examples of self-censorship
Self-censorship can manifest itself in news, politics and more. The news often uses self-censorship to avoid serious responses to controversial issues. The reason for this is that the news media is reluctant to make risky news so as not to close. For example, censorship was recommended to prevent the leaking of military secrets, which began with the Gulf War and continued through subsequent conflicts, and journalists followed this censorship. In many cases such censors were used.
Turkey ranks 121st in the world in terms of freedom of the press and there are many censorship and self-censorship practices. Self-censorship is common in authoritarian states because people fear being judged for what they write. For example, 3 days later, journalists began reporting on the Uludere massacre. This incident went viral on social media.
However, in some cases self-censorship must be applied. For example, at the time of the Iran Hostage Crisis, there was no news so as not to endanger the lives of journalists.
There is also a culture of self-censorship in politics. Politicians everywhere don’t say what they know, they live with these secrets for the rest of their lives.
What are the causes of self-censorship?
The reasons for self-censorship can be personal, social and cultural. Personal causes can be: low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, pressure and traumatic experiences. Social causes can be: discrimination, social pressure and prejudice, censorship and prohibitions, social norms and values. Cultural reasons can include traditions, taboos, cultural norms and ideologies.
What are the effects of self-censorship?
The effects of self-censorship vary widely in terms of the harm that the person causes to themselves, the environment and society. Personally, self-censorship can lead to low self-esteem, insecurity, and social phobia. Socially, self-censorship harms freedom of thought and expression in society and leads to discrimination and prejudice. Culturally, self-censorship negatively impacts creativity and innovation and can hinder the enrichment of culture.
How do you circumvent self-censorship?
To overcome self-censorship, one must first be open to oneself, one’s thoughts and feelings. The person can gain self-confidence by working on the issues that he is afraid to express himself. In addition, being in a supportive environment, meeting new people, being open to different perspectives, and participating in creative activities can also help overcome self-censorship.