Growing up in China, I remember using daily. At some point in my teens, it stopped working, and I had to use . Then ... I left. The first time I got off the plane in the US, and got on a computer, was the browser homepage.

Now, this is not a story about how important Google is to me (to the dismay of the fully adult version of me, it is). Around the same time, there were other, perhaps less relatable things happening to the internet that was once niche, and open to Chinese users (small website hosting services got shut down one by one, blog posts got deleted a few days later, all websites forced to have government approval to exist). As a teen, I didn't like that feeling of spaces closing around me. I didn't have money, the freedom to explore virtually was precious.

Most people on Twitter never had visceral experience of censorship like mine. It's not something that happens to some asshole spewing hate on a website; not a sinister plot that aims at your group with some shared some beliefs. True censorship feels like environment decay, like oxygen leaving the air. It's quite, gradual, steady. It happens to everyone, and no one. It happens to you, whether you know it or not.

The thing about "visceral" tho, is that it's personal by definition. These words won't duplicate my experience in you. But maybe you will pause and smell the roses, and the subtle decrease of oxygen in your air.