The phenomenon of “cancel culture” only creates an environment of hostility across various social media platforms. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it involves publicly calling out, shaming, and boycotting celebrities and their products.
However, its usage has stretched beyond celebrities and is now used to target the average citizen. As a result of cancel culture, ordinary people have faced consequences such as losing their jobs, being shunned by friends and family, or having to remove their online presence.
Cancel culture is believed to create a sense of accountability for those who say or do controversial things. Instead, it creates an environment where harassment and bullying are accepted and embraced.
Social media gives anyone the opportunity to weigh in on the person being “canceled,” which not only jeopardizes that person’s safety, but also puts them at risk for being alienated completely. Unfortunately, that is sometimes the goal in these types of cancel culture situations.
The call-outs often challenge historical inequalities and bring greater accountability to those in positions of power. Critics of cancel culture believe it is an unfair and indiscriminate rush to judgment that relies on “mob mentality.” Some have likened the cancel culture to a witch hunt against public figures for various personal, political, and ideological reasons.
Others have said canceling someone can be an overly disruptive form of intolerance. Cancel culture has been considered acceptable by some people in some cases because it seemed to provide a way for marginalized individuals and groups to silence someone they deemed hurtful.
As a result, powerful individuals or groups that would otherwise evade responsibility for their destructive behaviors would be exposed to the facts and face the consequences.
On the other hand, cancel culture has been called a negative, even toxic way of simplifying complex issues and encouraging snap judgments that can easily result in overly harsh consequences in less offensive situations.
Cancel culture is undeniably toxic when it involves criminal threats, invasion of privacy (doxing), or driving a person to suicide. People might wish to believe it will effect positive social change. The nature of so many comments on social media seems to indicate otherwise.
Moving Forward Requires a Shift in Attitudes and Behaviors. Over the past four years in the United States, the political climate, combined with an unprecedented global pandemic crisis, has created an atmosphere of volatile uncertainty and anxiety.
We need to take a deep collective breath and recommit ourselves to the ideals protecting sacred human rights that are the basis of our democracy. The fact that these ideals have not been fully realized should not blind us to their enduring importance.
Contrary to what many politicians of the day wish us to believe, most of us want the same things for ourselves, our children, and future generations. Freedom to believe, think, and speak responsibly from our own experience.
A safe place to live and work, Enough food, access to education, and health care, and money to live Freedom to worship (or not)
To survive as a democratic country that supports fundamental human rights, we need to lower the temperature of our social discourse.
Simply canceling someone because we disagree with their position does nothing constructive. Engaging in a respectful exchange of opinions while working toward the same goals is how we will thrive and grow as a society.