On hiding, censorship, and the impossible task of trying to please everybody.
In response to this article, I received about 70 emails from people saying, “Thank you for saying that.” I received 2 emails from people saying, “I didn’t like what you said” and “I feel it was wrong of you to talk about your political views.” Also, about 100 people unsubscribed from my mailing list altogether. This got me thinking about hiding, censorship, and the impossible task of trying to please everybody.
So many people – particularly bloggers, podcasters, and other people with a “public presence” – often struggle to decide “how much” to share, and when, and how. Many people censor themselves, fearing that their income / livelihood will be negatively impacted if they say what they really feel. Many people (understandably) fear harassment, public scorn, and criticism. It’s a complicated topic, and it’s one that needs to be discussed. This is my “open letter” on this subject. These are my thoughts. This is my stance.
I’m a writer.
I write about my personal experiences and feelings.
That’s what I do, and what I have always done.
I am bisexual, and I don’t hide that.
I have struggled with depression and an eating disorder in the past. I don’t hide that either.
I am self-employed, and I write honestly about what that’s like – the tough choices I’ve had to make, and the challenges I’ve had to face.
I have experienced pain in my life – romantic rejection, broken bones, surgery, recovery, loss, grief, and shame. I write about all of those things.
I have experienced victories in my life – publishing deals, art projects, athletic pursuits, exciting adventures. I write about all of those things, too. I write about my lowest points and my highest highs. The darkness and the light.
And if I feel distressed about something that’s happening locally, nationally, or globally in our world – say, a major political election – then I’m going to write honestly about that, too.
I don’t expect everyone to share my feelings or agree with me. All I can do is write from my heart and gut – my “hut” – and say what I feel is true. Some people will say, “Hooray! That’s what I believe, too!” and others will say, “I strongly disagree,” and that’s OK with me.
If you enjoy my work, then keep reading. If you don’t enjoy my work, or if it feels distressing, uninspiring, or morally problematic to you, that’s completely OK. You can stop reading. You can unsubscribe from my newsletter. You can stop visiting my website. I won’t be offended. I’m free to write, and you’re free to read – or not read – the things that I write. We’re both free to proceed as our hearts command.
But I’m never going to censor myself, or dilute my opinions, because if I start doing that, then really, what’s the point of writing anything at all?
It is not possible for me to create a “perfect piece of writing” that delights six billion people and upsets zero people. No matter what I say – and no matter how I say it – someone, somewhere, is going to be delighted, and someone, somewhere, is going to be upset. There’s no getting around this fact. That’s just how writing / reading works.
Rather than trying to please everybody on the planet, instead, I ask myself, “What is the story I want to tell, in this moment?” and “How can I tell that story truthfully, honestly, and clearly so that some people – who knows, maybe even a lot of people – will feel uplifted and inspired when they read it?”
That’s all I can do, and that’s what I will continue to do. Always.
It goes without saying, but I encourage you to do the same.