What Is Cancel Culture?
Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
– Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/pop-culture/cancel-culture/
Before I give my opinion on cancel culture I just wanted to have a little introduction. The reason I decided to discuss this topic today was because cancel culture is something you can’t get away from right now especially if you use social media. I had been meaning to write this post for a while now but to be honest I had been hoping it goes away and I wouldn’t have to write about it. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s still very much here. I also haven’t done a post where I share my opinions about something for a while and you guys seem to like those kind of posts so I decided to write this post today.
So, I am pretty much going to try and dissect cancel culture and sort of try and break it down into smaller parts and discuss those instead of just talking about it as a whole. I will discuss it as a whole towards the end of the post though because I think that’s also necessary.
The first part of cancel culture is generally calling out a person, people or a company for something they may have done in the past or are still doing. This is the part I agree with because a lot of people/companies have done questionable things and are still continuing to do so. I think when you see an injustice being committed it is your job to call it out and try to bring awareness to it.
What I disagree with is how people are being called out. Yes, some people and companies are being called out as there is solid proof about what they have done, however, due to the way social media works a lot of times you see people being called out for doing/saying something when in reality there may not be any truth to it or what they have said/done may be taken out of context completely. I think if you are going to accuse someone of something the least you can do is find actual evidence of what they have done.
Another problem with these call-outs is that it gives trolls the power to exploit cancel-culture. There are times when someone will go out of their way to fabricate stuff about someone to make it seem like they did/said something horrible when they actually haven’t. And because everyone tends to blindly jump on the bandwagon they end up getting “cancelled” when they actually haven’t even done anything.
2. The Cancellation
Now once someone gets called out people usually use like a hashtag or something to get more peoples attention and eventually the person gets “cancelled.” This is the part I have a pretty big problem with.
I may sound like a bit too much of an optimist when I say this but truth be told I believe that the majority of people out there are good. They may not be fully good but I think most people have at least some good in them. I know that I am definitely not the best person ever and I know that most people have their negatives and their positives. No one is perfect- we have all done bad things and we have all done good things.
I don’t think “cancelling” people is the solution. To be frank I don’t think it’s even a solution. I think it does help bring awareness to certain things such as unethical company practices, racist things people/companies have done, misogynistic things people/companies have done but at the same time it only highlights these things instead of coming up with an actual solution to address them.
3. The Results
This is probably the biggest problem I have with cancel culture. They keep calling people out- often quite randomly without any real research- and when the hashtag stops trending people completely forget about what happened. Usually the person/company puts out a- very obviously made by their PR- apology, people criticize the apology, the person/company lays low for a few days and everything goes back to normal.
If you are going to call someone out for their behaviour or actions its also your job to come up with a way to make sure that this behaviour/action does not happen again and that the person or company that is being called out both takes responsibilities and action to rectify their behaviour.
If someone is called out and then completely ignored what’s the point of calling them out. The whole point should be to bring change and to do that you need to keep checking up on that person/company and make sure that they are behaving in a more ethical way. You can’t forget stuff as soon as it stops trending or people stop talking about it.
My Overall Thoughts On Cancel Culture
I don’t want to totally come after gen Z or millennials- being one myself I do understand where their frustration comes from. We are lucky enough to be able to get higher education. access to so much information both online and offline, access to news from around the world and so much more. It’s a privilege but it can also be extremely overwhelming.
When you see everything that’s wrong with the world these days, when you see all the injustices that exist it really makes your blood boil and it does make you want to do something about it and one way we know how to do this is through the internet. And there are some phenomenal people online making a difference by fighting for equality and more.
Unfortunately, there is also a downside to fighting for things online or online activism. A lot of people these days don’t have great attention spans and shock value sells. People need to shock people to really get their attention and I feel like cancel culture is a part of this. It builds outrage for a little while and then people lose their concentration and move on to something different.
Before you blame this on phones, social media, younger generations etc. I would like to point out that this isn’t the only time people have started a movement and then lost their focus. As a history major I know that this happens all the time. Just one example is the 60’s counterculture. What started off as an amazing cause to bring change over the next few years became increasingly fractioned and eventually a lot of it became concentrated on drug use and other things. Many lost sight of what they were fighting for in the beginning. This isn’t the exact same obviously but I’m just trying to bring out a comparison.
One of the main problems I see with cancel culture is that it does a lot more harm than good. Yes, it calls out people but at the same time since there is little actual evidence it sometimes destroys the life of innocent people. Furthermore, it also gives the majority too much power and this power can- and is- being used for evil. A lot of times people call out other people for revenge or because they hate them rather than because they want to make the world a better place.
Even the people who are rightfully called out often don’t face any real life consequences. I admit that some do and that’s fine but a lot of times like I mentioned earlier they make a half-assed apology and then move on with their lives doing exactly what they want to do.
It also encourages uniformity which I hate. It encourages people to follow others or go with the trends but the trends/other people are not always right. You need to do your own research, make your own decisions and do what you think is the right thing to do not what everyone on social media tells you to do.
It also tends to take attention away from real problems that are occurring in the real world. Remember Karmageddon that happened on YouTube? It called out a bunch of people but did it really make that much of a difference? Jeffree Star is still out there living his best life, Tati is still making money off her pills, Shane is laying low but I just know he’ll be back soon and no one will care. A lot of times the things that are called out are real life problems and therefore there need to be real life solutions not an online cancellation.
I also want to mention that cancel culture very often tends to see everything in black and white. People are either good or evil. There is no grey area. However, this is very far from the truth. In reality almost everything in the world is grey. There is always good AND bad with every situation and looking at something/someone in just one light is very damaging.
For example, let’s talk about big companies paying their workers abroad really badly. When you look at it at first you obviously think that’s so unethical and awful- and you would be right if you’re thinking this. It’s awful- people are treated inhumanely and paid barely anything for their hard work.
However, when I studied it in one of my sociology classes I was able to think about it a bit more. A lot of people boycott these companies and therefore the company produces less products which means that the workers who were barely making anything to begin with get completely laid off or in some cases get paid even less than before. In the end these companies are going to do whatever they have to to make a profit- often times these measures are very unethical. As for the workers- they come from very poor backgrounds, many are women and children who absolutely need that- awful and super unethical- wage to survive. When you boycott the company and these people get laid off they lose this income which as small as it seems was very vital to their survival.
I’m not trying to criticise anyone with this example- if you choose to but ethically sourced and made products that is truly amazing and I really respect that. I’m just trying to show that things aren’t always in black and white- in fact they rarely are. Things are a lot more complicated than they seem. What we sometimes hear about and react to without doing our research is often just the tip of the iceberg.
In conclusion, I’ll say that I do understand where the cancel culture stems from and I do understand wanting to be part of the change but truth be told cancelling someone is just not it. We need to find a more realistic way to address things. I am also someone who believes that change is possible and that if we believe in something we should use our words to explain why we believe in that instead of blindly cancelling people. Explain to them why you believe they are wrong in a rational way.
I hope you found this post interesting. I tried to stay unbias and look at both the positives and negatives on cancel culture instead of just fixating on either the negatives or positives.
What are your thoughts on cancel culture? Do you think it’s a good thing? Do you think it’s a bad thing? As always let me know what you think in the comments below. Also let me know if you enjoy these kinds of posts where I try to talk about something in depth. It’s really fun for me because this is kind of what I do with my research papers anyway so it’s great practice but I’m not sure if you guys enjoy these kind of posts. So please let me know- your feedback is super helpful!
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