Spend enough time around a group, and you’ll have a very strong feeling of what they consider acceptable. More than that, you’ll actually start to behave that way. This works the same with your family, your workplace, and probably your social networks.
As I spend more time online, I become increasingly aware of what the blogosphere’s consensus would be on any one thing I do. It has become a kind of internalized panopticon that says “this thing you are thinking can be said on Twitter, while this second thing definitely cannot.” Can you relate to that?
The strange thing is that the same could almost be said of someone who lives in a totalitarian state. Some states of mind are considered acceptable, we know which they are, and we’re careful to only express those those that won’t rock the boat.
Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.
What I worry about is kids growing up in a society where they say "If I send this email or if I visit this website, then somebody may think I'm a terrorist. I'm not going to talk about this issue, I'm not going to read this book, I'm not going to explore this idea."
Everyone has an internal eye. It always watching. It has been slowly constructed by society at large and by your friends and family, and it checks you for unacceptable behaviour. If you have had it around for long enough, you actually start to believe that the eye is you, and that you’re “being reasonable” or some other rationalization.
But the eye isn’t you at all. It is a prison, and you have justified its existence by obeying it. It’s strong because you let it be strong.
But the secret, the part that’s amazing, is that it can’t do anything to stop you, even if it wanted to. It’s an eye. It can only watch. The rest of you is free to act as you wish.