Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The price of free speech

In media law today, my professor asked about the "marketplace of ideas." The "marketplace" is a concept that the free exchange of thoughts and ideas can bring solutions and answer difficult questions in society, which is why the first amendment is so coveted.

She asked what has my experience been with free speech. Free speech, with its mighty purpose, can be pretty nasty. Free speech means that someone can criticize you, and judge you, and that's ok. Protecting free speech means protecting someone else's right to offend you.

The marketplace can also be pretty nasty, divisive and judgmental. Social media is instrumental in allowing people to exchange their ideas (like what I'm doing now), but most social media also allow users to express their approval and disapproval: We can click "like" or "favorite."

Mass media and the internet give feedback on our thoughts, pictures and lives. If you're like me, you're constantly hoping people will like or favorite your content. You're pining for enough likes on Instagram that the app no longer lists individual usernames, and crossing you're fingers your picture will be "liked" on Facebook.

Free speech and the marketplace are great, but they also mean the freedom to pass judgment and the possibility for rejection.

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