When did it become our job to silence somebody else’s voice? Cancel culture barely leaves people any room for error; mistakes and occasional slip-ups are frowned upon and, most of the time, unforgivable. It negatively affects the unity of shared and differing life experiences. Cancel culture separates and radicalizes us, and in my opinion, it becomes a need to control someone, make them feel small and cornered, instead of educating them. Essentially, it’s denying that someone can be better and destroying what could be better before they even get the chance. If you’re someone that’s been on social media for a while now, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed somebody getting cancelled, or you cancelled them or got cancelled yourself. This will continue to affect people until it’s contained; we must reteach ourselves what we forget to teach others. The act typically starts when someone uses their voice to pass judgment on another — it is also most likely that people are dealing with fragmented or distorted information. No one ever knows the real story, and it is mostly a common feeling in social media to rush our reactions regarding things that hurt us. On many occasions, we’ve become sensitive to things we shouldn’t be sensitive to.
Let’s look at the factors
→ Intent: we need to take into consideration that people are inevitably going to screw up. Each person comes from a different learning environment, experienced different childhoods, and has different beliefs. Although this shouldn’t lighten the blow of their “punishment”, it’s imperative to recognize how much that person is willing to learn from their mistakes. If they are okay with accepting the fact they have caused harm to someone else, we should commend them for wanting to change their behaviour for the future.
→ Reoccuring habit or onetime mistake?: we will never know the extent of the harm someone has done. For example, “[t]he difference between a serial sexual abuser (Harvey Weinstein) versus a tone-deaf Bachelorette on Instagram Live is vastly different.” Harvey Weinstein was formerly a successful film producer, but he abused his power for years, while an influencer, for example, would make a small mistake such as insult someone unintentionally—but would quickly own up to her mistake. Sometimes, cancel culture fails to let the person in question hold themselves accountable because of overwhelming hate or abuse online. This society lives in a virtual world, and people are now more willing to call each other out for acting foolish. We collectively used to be afraid to share our opinions, and now that we aren’t, we are forcing people back into that closed, isolated bubble. Social media plays a significant role in all of this; people can now hide behind a profile and use that as an excuse to be cruel simply.
The attention a mass virtual attack can do to someone can sidetrack a productive conversation. Accountability is an outcome of a harmful act. However, it does offer a fair chance to move our society forward and leaves a lot of room for growth. We all want to succeed at work, in our relationships, and make ourselves proud—as much we want to make the people we love proud. Still, to be successful in your future or current endeavours and see results, blatant passion for something won’t always make the cut. Real success (in my opinion) is playing the long game—longevity as in to be mindful of not destroying the people you encounter in your own journey. Everyone matures and learns at a different pace, and by acknowledging the fact we can educate instead of refusing to help them grow, we provide a safe space for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe some people deserve to get “cancelled” because of severe and/or recurring mistakes but cancel culture is not the same as holding someone accountable. Accountability must be implemented because it won’t happen by chance or by luck.