When I’m composing a blog post or comment, I often find myself in a situation where I write something then decide it isn’t what I want to say. I don’t quite agree with what I've written – almost but not quite.
It could be put down to diffidence, uncertainty, lack of self-confidence, conceptual cowardice or whatever, but I think it’s mostly a fear of self-deception. I use the word fear deliberately here, because people seem to vary in this respect.
Some people seem to be unafraid of deceiving themselves, apparently quite willing to let it all hang out and parry the doubts or criticisms if and when they arrive. The rest of us seem more likely to be wary of self-deception, not wishing to find ourselves adrift on a sea of dubious words to which we never gave enough thought.
This self-censorship seems to be affected by alcohol. No surprises there. So you see more self-confidence down the pub from about nine o’clock onwards.
If like me, you are affected by this kind of self-censorship, you may have noticed how quickly it can operate and how it seems to be to some degree sub-vocal. I don’t say to myself I can’t write that – it’s more like ummm, no.
Hardly even that really – more like a flicker of recognition that the censor has stepped in – no words needed – change the post - edit it or delete it. Maybe the words come afterwards, as a kind of rationale of what happened.
Theories of language must have a hard time here, because who is to say quite what is going on with something so ephemeral and dynamic? Not me that’s for sure – even if I had a theory I’d end up censoring it before it saw the light of day.