In the virtual world, thinking before pressing the “enter” key is the equivalent of thinking before speaking. It’s the milliseconds before using it in an IM chat, the seconds before clicking it for a comment on a social network, or the minutes you have to think before pressing it to post something, that determine your fate and the features of your virtual “you”.
Where I come from, people can go to jail, or even get killed, for not only writing the wrong stuff but even reading the wrong book¹. Several famous intellects spent years in prison for challenging society’s orthodoxies. Others’ fate was assassination by people, who admittedly never read their writings and had a very shallow exposure to their ideas.
Being different and having different ideas in an intolerant society is dangerous, not to mention publish them. There isn’t a day that comes without hearing news of a new detainee here or another lashing there. I know this very well, yet here I am: in front of my keyboard, unable to resist the temptation (or rather the “need”) of expressing myself.
I can’t help but wonder: if self-expression was a mere luxury, how come millions of people have scarified their lives to secure it for themselves and for their children? Can it be anything less than a fundamental human right, equal to the right to live safely?² ..
1- Most controversial books are banned in my country. A student was once arrested because he was carrying George Orwell’s 1984
2- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was smart enough to state both rights: liberty and security, in one article along with the right to life (article number 3)