Cancel culture. If you’ve been on social media, you’ve heard of it. But what we’re here to discuss is the controversy that lies with this trend. Is it beneficial or toxic? Keep reading to find out.
You’ve been nulled. Ended. Boycotted. Abandoned. You’ve been canceled.
Cancel culture. You’ve probably heard of it before if you’ve been active on any kind of social media. If you haven’t, I’ll take the courtesy of telling you what it is.
Cancel culture is the popular social media practice of withdrawing support for a person or group of people after they’ve done something that could be considered offensive. For example, if a celebrity made a homophobic remark over Twitter. Canceled. If a white YouTuber said the “n-word” in one of their videos. Canceled. If a popular model engages in cultural misappropriation. Canceled!
So in summary, it’s just when people gather together to publicly shame. Along with calling them out over social media, people also engage in boycotting their work while also trying to take away the person’s public platform and power.
Even if, to you, it’s the small act of unfollowing them on Instagram or not watching their Youtube videos, cancel culture can be serious for these individuals. It can force them to completely lose their careers over their tarnished reputations. It can cause someone to lose their life entirely.
So, that’s where the trilemma lies. Is cancel culture acceptable and beneficial in taking action against hate? Or is it actually harmful and toxic? Or, is there a neutral perspective. Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Cancel culture is beneficial to society:
If you haven’t noticed, cancel culture has been EXTREMELY effective in combating sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other type of hate towards a group of people.
Cancel culture allows the average person to have some sort of power to voice their opinions and backlash towards a certain person. When someone has done something problematic or hateful, the people have the power to stop supporting them and “cancel” them. This no longer concerns only the rich and powerful.
And in terms of being effective, cancel culture targets social change by addressing inequalities that those that are oppressed face. In 2016, power couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith boycotted the Oscars, addressing the fact that there were obvious inequalities between the nominees for the awards with #OscarsSoWhite. Although the couple received backlash for their actions, it sparked change. In 2019, the record was set for the most black Oscar nominees in history.
Back in May, when the Black Lives Matter movement went through a surge in supporters, a video posted by Melody Cooper on Twitter went viral. She wrote:
“Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off-leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash.”
The video consisted of a black man politely asking a white woman to put her dog on a leash, as per the rules. “Karen” promptly called for the cops, stating “an African American man is threatening my life… send the cops immediately” all whilst seemingly strangling her dog. The video went viral, receiving millions of views. Shortly after, she was fired from her investment firm job, forced to surrender her dog, and charged for false accusation. She faced the consequences. She was canceled.
On the other hand, some have commented that cancel culture hinders the right to free speech, and while that is true, anyone who makes offensive comments towards a group of people has to be ready to face the consequences of their actions.
After all, power IS to the people.
Cancel culture is toxic and unforgiving:
While cancel culture is effective in sparking change and social reform for the oppressed, people can often take this trend too far.
Twitter is known to be the most controversial social media platform out there. And that makes it perfect for cancel culture. Twitter users are often known to investigate deep into a person’s life by digging up dirt from the past and uncovering old secrets.
#IsOverParty was trending on Twitter, most recently used to cancel Jimmy Fallon after a video of him imitating Chris Rock resurfaced. Though the hashtag trended quickly, many other Twitter users were quick to condemn his cancellation. One user wrote:
“The culture of canceling people is ridiculous. Jimmy Fallon did this 20 years ago when he was young and had to listen to his boss in order to put food on his table.”
Fallon did later apologize for his actions and thanked the users for holding him accountable for them. However, this incident revealed that people are quick to cancel and point out actions and not as quick to forgive and understand that people can change. Though Fallon did make a mistake, the fact that social media users went out of their way to dig up dirt from 20 years ago, shows that cancel culture is a toxic trend. And it may seem harmless to you, but cancel culture can be used to ruin the lives of those who have changed, bringing up their past and forgotten mistakes.
People have the ability to change if given the chance to. And cancel culture seems like a cynical approach that causes people to forget that.
So, by now, you know what cancel culture means, and the ups and downsides to this trend.
Due to me, personally, being active on social media so often, I’m often informed of what’s happening concerning this specific issue. So, my thoughts on this controversy?
Cancel culture is a powerful tool, and due to the power it holds, it can be used beneficially to condemn the people that are actually at fault. To condemn the people that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, and other offensive actions. It gives the average person the power to say no. But due to its effectiveness, cancel culture can also turn toxic and convict innocent people. The people that may have made mistakes in the past but have changed for the better.
This means that people need to take the initiative to make sure that they don’t abuse this power so they can make changes for the better of our society. All so that one day, we won’t have to cancel anyone anymore.