I received the best news I could imagine last year – my school was entering me (little old me!) in a competition to write a piece for a national newspaper. Naturally, I got straight to work brainstorming. By the next day, I had come up with no fewer than five fleshed-out ideas, and was buzzing with energy; that is, until I found out what it was that we would be writing. In a twist that would have shocked no one else but me, the newspaper was government-affiliated – and there was no way I was writing any of my ideas.
Rather than give us free rein of the articles, allowing us to eloquently convey what we, the people, felt to be most important, a topic list had been given to us. Every word on it spoke of patriotism, of national strength and how my country was doing its utmost in practically every field. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Living in a monarchy had always felt pleasant enough – in large part due to the luck of having a benevolent ruler – but that wasn’t always the case, and I knew it might not be in the future. I had a jarring realisation that of course, the biggest newspaper in the country would be censored. Of course we wouldn’t have true freedom of speech.
In a world with the internet and where information feels so easily available, it’s fighteningly easy to forget the truth. Blocking critical websites, using public media as propaganda, and outright lies online are still issues we face today. And maybe we’re not doing enough to solve them.