When discussing the media, blogging or twitter we hear a lot about this rule of thumb that says “don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face”. I think this is a simplistic cliché.
There are lots of reasons to put in writing something that you would not say directly. What you want to say might be quite long. Or it may require hyperlinks to make sense.
But most importantly: the written word is a leveller. It is an essential tool for those who wish to speak truth to power. Saying something to the face of politicians, clerics, military personnel, corporate CEOs or celebrities is incredibly difficult. First you have to actually meet them… and then negotiate the entourages and your own nervousness in order to confront them and say what you want to say. This is incredibly difficult and would present a huge psychological barrier to criticism, if that were the only way we could express dissent.
We evolved the written word so we could converse with (and critique) other people – transcending space, time and social class. “Say it to someone’s face, or not at all” is a silly principle by which to live.