A lot has already been said (and done) in the name of freedom of expression. I can’t elaborate more on how important this is, not only for the individual, but also for a whole nation. I don’t want this article to read like a speech so, I’d not go into that.
Looking at my top 5 strengths, I am one person who can definitely benefit from freedom of expression (AKA communication). If you talk (or write) a lot, online or not, I know you feel the same love with this freedom that we have. Thanks to our country’s democracy.
Sometimes though, the freedom to express ourselves, can go out of control, like wildfire (James 3:6 ?).
Like, when I over emphasize the correctness of my argument with people, to the point of humiliating them; like when I post mean remarks on social networks about a certain popular person (or any stupid stuff they did); and the list goes on and on. Thinking I can always get away with it by making it sound like a joke (a smiley or a LOL, or a “hehehe” after my statements). We had this seminar on coaching and counseling at work one time, and my instructor said that we, Filipinos are fond of giving improper compliments. It’s like we throw a praise or a compliment at a person jokingly- thus, the praise is not well received sometimes, and sounding insincere. I think we do the same with giving mean remarks, too- we deliberately “mask” it behind humor. Foul humor.
Oh and what about the infamous “cyber-bullying”? I have heard a lot of those lately. The thing is, when we wear the crown of “freedom of expression” online, some of us thought that we are the “Robin Hood” of cyberspace- protecting the oppressed. Funny however, that sometimes, we become the oppressor ourselves. I am not trying to play the idealistic guy here, but I think a little courtesy, by withholding our tongue (or in some cases our keyboard), could go a long way.
Practicing our freedom, specially in expressing ourselves, needs a little check and balance, initiated by us, for us. One can look at a lot of places for principles and guidelines to help oneself govern this freedom. You can start with… the bible?
Start from your thoughts, for example:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8, NIV]
After all, out of the abundance of the heart (i.e. our thoughts), the hands TWEET! ( Luke 6:45 ?).
You can also read a whole slew of preaching on the tongue on James 3.
I could spend more than a thousand words pointing out places where we can get principles to “tame our (online) tongue” – but you can simply ditch everything I write here and just simply focus on one thing: build others up.
I can agree, disagree, comment, debate and write all I like, online, offline- this is a free country after all- and an even free “interweb”- but if what I’m saying isn’t encouraging, corrective, collaborative- if what I’m saying isn’t BUILDING another person up, then I might as well shut up.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive [1 Corinthians 10:23, NIV]
What about you, what’s your way to govern your freedom of expression?
bully, Corinthians 10:23, cyber, expression, Filipinos, freedom, James 3:6, Luke 6:45, mouth, online, Philippians 4:8, speech, tongue, tweet