Teaching Diary: Growing up with censorship

The past few weeks have been all about censorship (or demonstrations) in the world wide web with it’s peak when Twitter started to censor, or to allow governments to censor, content. For some time I wasn’t able to open links who were send via twitter since the local government blocked them all. Most of my students here however weren’t really bothered by that fact. They said it’s ‘normal’ that the government simply blocks websites….while you could have seen a huge ‘#WTF’ written across my facial expression, students continued to state that the government probably knows best what to do so there wouldn’t be any harm in that. ‘If the americans use the internet for bad things, we shouldn’t see it’. Uhm…brave new world.

I get that some people think that way but when asking further, not only students said this to me. University students who actually know more about the world abroad, colleagues and even doctors went along with this opinion. Wow.

After thinking more and more about it I came to the conclusion that most people here don’t even know how it is to live without some kind of censorship. Critical decisions have always been made for them and they could always ‘rely’ on a greater force than themselves (I have to be careful how to phrase that) to tell them in which direction they have to march. Left or right around the tree – no need to think, somebody’s gotta tell you.

The same now happens with content in the world wide web. Good or not good, don’t think. Somebody tells you what you can see and what not. And everybody accepts it. Now once more the question: Intervene or let it slide? Show them that there is a life outside the box or let them stay inside their small, but easy box?

If you open the box they will realize that there is more but it will also bring more choices and possibilities to them as well as decisions that need to made and some dangers as well. But isn’t that what life is about?

So…what would you do? Red pill or blue pill?

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