The Overton window is the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. It is also known as the window of discourse.Writing on the internet -- or doing anything at all meaningful on the internet -- is challenging because there are roughly eight billion people on planet earth right now and you can't please all of the people all of the time. The Overton Window -- or window of discourse -- will vary from one group and one person to the next.
Exactly what is acceptable will depend on the details of the life of any given individual and the history of any given group. When posting online, you need to account for various Overton Windows at the same time in the same piece.
In the movie Patton, the main character slaps a soldier and this leads to him being demoted. Other sources suggest the decision to replace him had already been made and the slap was not the cause, but the slap -- in actual reality, he slapped two different soldiers -- got publicity for a lot of years as the reason for it and in the film there is a scene where their opponents are disbelieving, like "They can't seriously be removing their best man from command over this stupid, minor BS!"
There is also a scene oin the film where Patton gives a speech to women of a particular nationality -- I forget which one -- and says something complimentary to them, comparing them to women of another nationality. The press gets hold of it and frames it as him insulting the other nationality.
A global press was just beginning to emerge and by World War II, he was not a young man. My guess is that he did things in World War II that would have been FINE in a previous era in context in part because it wouldn't have made international news.
He was likely operating on social rubrics that had worked for him for much of his life and was caught off guard that these acts now were somehow a problem. And he seems like he was probably a bit slow on the uptake that protesting the reaction it got amounted to cutting his own throat. It didn't help his situation.
My feeling is that globalism has gone a bit too far and is actively causing problems at this point. I think we need to find some means to support cultural and logistical regionalism to stabilize our economy, among other things, but globalism is likely here to stay.
It's much, much harder to write for X audience knowing "outsiders" or "their enemies" will also be part of the audience. It seems to me that gone are the days when, say, a Black comedian could make jokes that made sense to Black people for a predominantly Black audience and not have a high chance of it coming back to bite them.
I think two practices are helpful in trying to navigate publishing anything online:
- Write to try to avoid triggering the worst "crazies" out there in such a way that the "not crazies" will side with the "crazies" against you. (This is where knowing something about the Overton Window comes in handy.)
- As a general rule of thumb, criticize bad behaviors rather than individuals per se.
This is not, per se, a good reason to simply remain silent on a topic. But you need to be mindful of saying things such that MOST people will react to those fringe elements by going "Oh, well, yeah, THOSE PEOPLE would think that" and NOT "THOSE PEOPLE have a good point. OH. GOD."
And unless you feel strongly that a specific PERSON really deserves to be "cancelled" and you have sufficient evidence to back up this opinion, it's best to say "X BEHAVIOR of theirs is a PROBLEM and I want THIS SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR to stop GENERALLY, not JUST in them." It gives them room to modify their position, it is less likely to win you an entrenched enemy who wants your head on a platter and it's more generally defensible.
It's also wise to stay away from controversial or hot button topics if you aren't willing and able to really educate yourself on the matter in question. When in doubt, don't speak to X issue because you will likely do it badly and it will come back to bite you.
As an INDIVIDUAL, yes, you are absolutely entitled to have AN OPINION on any and every stupid thing on the planet, no matter how uninformed you are. But as someone posting on the WORLD WIDE WEB, it is in your best interest to not feel compelled to share every stupid, uninformed opinion you happen to have.
If it's controversial and it's NOT a hill you are prepared to die on, just know when to bite your tongue and shut your mouth.
If, like ME, you tend to just want to be included and talk with people, go talk with people about SOMETHING ELSE, NOT THIS. The internet is not a good place to assume everyone is your fwend, like you are four years old.