Social media is a beautiful, yet scary place. I’m not going to list the pros and cons because it is something that we weigh in our minds every day when we experience any of the negative side effects of its rush. However, a troubling phenomenon in recent years is a movement called cancel culture that is worth having a conversation about.
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.Dictionary.com
Twitter, along with other social media platforms, has the power to unite people from around the world over a common cause. Sometimes that happens to be “canceling” a certain celebrity or internet figure who said something controversial. This can be a tweet that re-surfaced from ten years ago or something they said an hour ago in a YouTube video. This also applies to everyday people that might get caught saying something ugly on camera or for a controversial Facebook post. Twitter users behave like civil servants roping in private information like the accuser’s LinkedIn profiles, and even contacting their employers to get them fired.
What happens to these people after they are canceled? Do you think they will have a more empathetic response towards whatever group they hurt after their lives were ruined? Will they be filled with more hate and divisiveness than ever before? Will they be willing to educate themselves and fix their mistakes if they did not get a chance to explain themselves? Most likely they will be even less understanding and even more hateful because revenge was used to wipe them out.
At the end of the day, seeing people being “canceled” leads to a fear of not taking chances. There is so much power in vulnerability and we do not want that to be taken away.
“I only have the freedom that I have now because other people before me fought for women of colour to be given opportunities that I’m now able to benefit from. So, no, I never tire of being corrected when I’m wrong, you know, I have more to learn and I’m grateful that people don’t patronize me and they think that I can take the criticism, and I can.”Jameela Jamil
Put your time and money where your mouth is. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to a person, company, you name it that you don’t agree with is to IGNORE it. The time and energy that people pour into ruining someone’s career could be used to create actual change. We all have a lot to learn. Myself included. We live in such a beautifully colorful world with people who have so many stories to share. It is time to listen.
I am NOT saying that hateful, racist, misogynist, etc. people should be able to roam free and be untouchable. I AM saying that there are quite a few more steps that should happen in between the crime committed and “canceling”.
Instead of sharing the said offense on social and saying “I hate X! What is wrong with them! They need to be canceled.” We should think about saying “I believe anyone who agrees with this comment is hurting others and this is why…” Then share non-profits to support, documents and books to learn from, and people to follow who are experts on this fighting against this type of discrimination, and any other resources that can help others.
Progress, not perfection.
This way people who were just as hurt from that painful message have more to join forces about other than just a new person to hate. If people are not given resources to learn from or examples to act from, all bystanders will learn from events like this is to stay quiet and shy away from tough conversations in fear of saying the wrong thing. Do you see the problem here? It scares people away from learning when it is uncomfortable. This is not what we want!
There are a lot of cruel, hurt, and vicious people out there. People who have committed multiple mistakes and have had time and time again to learn from their mistakes are not who I am referring to. I am referring to someone who genuinely made a mistake and has not been allowed a chance to grow from it. I would only support the cancellation of someone if they refuse to change their mind after being presented with facts or how they hurt others, will not apologize, and do not think they did anything wrong.
We need to be more committed to teaching someone why they are wrong than burning them at the stake.
You never know, that person the Internet is currently trying to cancel could be so moved from stories of the marginalized group their comments hurt they may go on to start a non-profit for the cause in a few years. It is easy to be quickly offended, jump to conclusions before the whole story is out, or want to silence those who disagree with us. But having conversations, sharing stories, and showing someone what damage they caused is where change happens.
We learn from being criticized, not by being kicked off the field. We should aim for an accountability culture vs a cancel culture. Behind screens are real people with hearts and minds.
Steps for Accountability Culture
- unfollow, ignore, block, delete
- focus on the toxic message instead of the messenger
- educate yourself
- educate others
- create change
So, instead of “canceling” things we don’t like maybe we should look at it more like not shining a light on it. By using your platform, conversations with friends, and your free time to learn more to frame the conversation in a helpful and educational way without bashing others you can create change.
I hope you have the patience and kindness to see my heart. And if for any reason you ever disagree with me then please share that with me and I will do my best to listen and learn. Because in a world where we can be canceled for saying the wrong thing we are not granted the grace to learn from our mistakes, try again once we know more, and serve as role models for others.
Conversations like these are not easy. But like any hard thing in life, they are worth it.
Thanks for reading!