I don’t delete things very often. I don’t believe I need to. I have things to say, and I do my best to ensure I say them in a way that is balanced and fair.

Obviously, it’s impossible not to offend some people.

I have often found offence with things I’ve read, or seen, or been told. On rare occasions, I take to Twitter and I vent. Most often I choose to reflect on those things and then move on. Or I engage with the people concerned, hoping that debate will allow us both to see each other’s view and, perhaps, change opinion.

I delete and redact a lot on Skype, and on Path. Sometimes I do this because without context it changes things. I quite like seeing the reaction to that. But on Twitter I only ever delete if I’m going to repost it with better grammar or spelling, because editing Tweets isn’t possible once they’ve been published.

Today that changed.

It feels weird. I didn’t have to do it. Yet I did, for good reason.

But this piece isn’t about that. It got me thinking more about how free our society really is.

You see, almost immediately afterwards, I spotted a video in my Twitter stream. I watched James Bridle’s latest work on wearable technologies, the Surveillance Spaulder.

The idea that we live in a free society is not true. We are watched, kept silent in other ways.

Here’s another example.

Yesterday, a conversation on another social network took a rather interesting turn. Religion was involved. Someone I don’t know got offended. Someone whom I also don’t know and entirely unconnected to the original conversation got involved. It got ridiculously out of hand. Presumably, the person who was offended to begin with remained so. Others ended up being offended for completely different reasons. The whole thing was ridiculous. It’s funny, really. But also sad.

And so it goes. Someone is offended, whether rightly or wrongly – although I’m not sure being offended is anything but personal and individual. It spirals. Dialogue disappears. We are silenced.

And nobody gains.

It’s important that people voice their opinions.
It’s equally important that these aren’t in isolation.