People are too afraid to speak their minds. This is because we've all been conditioned that, "you have the right to free speech, but if you say something controversial, you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences." This is the message that employers and companies want to promote to protect their carefully-crafted images.
I think that censorship is bullshit. At least the First Amendment protects us from being thrown in jail for what we say. Egyptians just fought and died for this right. Libyans are doing so as we speak. Still, in this country, where we're supposed to have the right to say whatever we want, people seem to think that for some reason, be it keeping up appearances with the neighbors or not getting in trouble at work for their views, it's much easier to conform who they are to some ideal "form" of what a neighbor or employee should be. People wear these masks for a majority of their waking hours, saying things that are considered "acceptable," never rocking the boat, to the point where they become trapped in the farce, and forget the person they once were.
That's actually part of the reason I started this blog. I felt myself slipping away, to the point that I didn't recognize the person in the mirror. I even hesitated before putting it up because I was scared that it might limit my professional prospects in some way. Then I realized something powerful: who gives a shit?
The chances are, nobody will. So you say "fuck" every now and then. Who doesn't? Well, besides Mormons. But that's their deal. They don't care if you do. Trust me—some of my best friends are Mormons. Shit, I played for their softball team in law school.
Speaking your mind is necessary if you aren't going to be some nameless, faceless drone; a mere cog in the machine. If you want to stand out, for good or ill, it's good to be a little different, to have your own opinions, to push the envelope a bit. If others don't like it, fuck 'em. You aren't competing with them for anything. If they try to brag about something or put you down, tell them to fuck off. You don't need them. The chances are better that you'll find more like-minded individuals, and ultimately make deeper, more meaningful connections with those people.
Ideally, everyone would be courteous to one another, and feel free to do so if you like. But don't be afraid to call an asshole an asshole, either. Say whatever you want. Nobody gives a shit. Even if they do care, and pressure you to conform, then that's not the place you want to be. Life's too short to be someone you aren't.
Questions? Comments? Want to tell ME to fuck off? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter @djgelner.