Cancel Culture – Good or Bad?
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Photo Credits: Mizzu Cho
Cancel culture is the result of where someone has behaved in a way that makes society attempt to cancel their voice via social media, the press or organizations cancelling their work and business opportunities. In some cases, it is where organizations and the public loose respect and socially declare their resentment and their cancellation. For many, cancel culture has become a real problem because it can cause severe censoring and prohibit freedom of speech and personal opinion.
1. What Is Cancel Culture?
Cancel culture is the cancellation of someones voice via the cancellation of their work opportunities and sponsorships, boycotting their past work, unfollowing them on social media, public negative commentary and negative press, all as a result of when someone has behaved in a way, by either something they said or did that makes popular society react in discontent and publicly cancel them. This has happened to many public figures and celebrities that have spoken outward in a public manner about issues that were controversial or sensitive and as a result they have had sponsorship contracts cancelled, tv shows cancelled, interviews and book tours cancelled, and other gigs cancelled with venues barring them and social media platforms blocking their accounts, followers unfollowing them and all sorts of negative branding in the press. For many, cancel culture has become a real problem because it can cause severe censoring and prohibit freedom of speech and personal opinion.
2. Censorship and Freedom of Speech
There is a perspective that cancelling someone is censoring their views and opinions. Many people do not agree with cancel culture because they feel everyone has a right to have their individual views and opinions heard. Many believe that cancelling someone is breaching their freedoms of speech. To some extend this is true and many share this perspective. There will always be a group of people that supports the ‘cancelled’ person. It becomes a case of finding like-minded groups and curating views and opinion within the group and perhaps not publicly. Cancel culture is about figuring out what is acceptable to certain groups and what isn’t. In a world full of diversity, almost everything is acceptable to unique groups of people. Although, what is acceptable to one group, may not be acceptable to another, so it’s important to find the right groups before sharing views and opinions or displaying certain behaviors to avoid being cancelled.
3. Woke Politics
Woke politics is typically when someone has made a comment in the past or present that wasn’t necessarily ill intended but the social media ‘mob’ or the political press make attempts to take it out of context and make it bigger than what it really is. This is the ‘woke politics’ that has exponentially blown up the cancel culture phenomena and to some degree it is getting abused and being used as a way to cancel celebrities at great lengths. The ideology behind ‘woke’, is that they are awake and conscious of bias that exists and ‘woke’ to the subliminal views that arise in popular culture, on social media platforms and the press. These ‘woke folk’ are aware of the controversial opinions and make it their mission to highlight when they come across them and make it public news that they are cancelled and not acceptable, whether they are actually valid claims to cancel a person or not!
4. When is Cancel Culture Relevant
Cancel culture is certainly relevant when it comes to someone calling out a negative behavior towards them personally. Everyone is entitled to be treated fairly and not made to feel excluded because of how they look or because of their race, nationality, language, accent, sexuality, disability, abilities, profession or marital status. When opinions are made against any of these factors, cancel culture is relevant as it is those opinion that should not be made publicly.
Some argue that cancel culture is always relevant because it holds people to account. It may seem that cancel culture is recent phenomena but really when we look at the meaning of cancel culture and what cancel culture is really about it, these same principles have always existed. When someone has acted in a certain way, historically it has been frowned upon or called out as wrong behavior. Cancelling starts with someone sharing their point-of-view or their behavior towards another person, representing or misrepresenting an organisation or community. In recent times cancel culture is the label that has been used when this type of behavior has been called out, and because of social media platforms and the popular media now taking a stand towards cancel culture whether for or against, cancel culture has become a popular topic of discussion. Popular opinion like everything else on social media becomes a trend. It is isn’t necessarily a matter of whether it is relevant but what is currently trending.
5. Is my Opinion Allowed or Can I Be cancelled?
The short answer is yes and no! It is allowed but it can also be cancelled!
We all have opinions. The matter is when should those opinions be expressed. This is where the confusion tends to exist with cancel culture. There is a confusion that cancel culture – holding people to account means that we are not entitled to have opinions or views on things. That is untenable, because the law of psychology says we all have opinions. The law of the land and the rules of society are what govern our opinions and indicate to us when we can or cannot express our opinions. With the ever-changing ways we communicate, with new technologies, social media, live television etc. we have come to a cross roads between what’s is deemed ‘home’ and ‘public’. Not past and present. It is no longer about whether something happened in the past, if it was done publicly that is the issue. It isn’t about your views now or then, it is about who are you sharing your view with. It is important for us to distinguish home from public. For example, ‘tweeting’ while at home in bed can be a confusing space, it might seem like a grey area when expressing opinions. Some might argue that we can express our opinions freely when we are at home, which in some instances would be true, but then the other important perspective is that even when you are at home, if you are engaging online or on a public platform like Twitter, you are in actual fact in a public space. Engaging in a private conversation directly with your family at home is a private space. In recent times, many people have failed to draw this distinction living with blurred lines. This has led to many people being cancelled by the public objecting to their views. It is important to know that not everyone is going to agree with your views, your views are often going to offend many people as we are all different. But on the other hand, there will also be many people that support your views. This is the risk of sharing your views publicly. It is better to share your views with groups or people that you know are open to you sharing your views whether they agree or not, or groups that actually do share your views so you can together privately have open discussion. It is not realistic to expect society to not object to public views and depending on the nature of the views or behavior not hold us to account. Organizations do not want to publicly be associated with people that have controversial views as they do not want to be perceived as excluding anyone. Most organisation are neutral, unless it is clear that is political, religious, cultural or for a particular group of people. There are organisation out there that are clear on their stance on certain matters and therefore they expect their followers to be supportive of their views and may hold anyone to account that objects. It is a big matter of sensibility. To make sensible and conscious decisions whether to make our views private at home or public.
6. Can You Opt-out?
The short answer is no!
You cannot really opt out of accountability. Cancel culture is the new trendy term that eludes to holding people to account for their behavior, their opinions; what they say and what they do. Society, governments, the laws and regulations of the land will always hold people to account. It is the fundamentals of society and civilization. It is about what is deemed acceptable and what is not. Depending on where you live, some behaviors are deemed more acceptable than others. Everyone, child or adult is held to account for their behavior, whether in kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, the work place, at home or in the grocery store we all have learn to be responsible for our behaviors, how others perceive us and receive us. It is not something you can opt out of, there are always consequences and reactions, good or bad. Whether getting a promotion for good actions or expulsion from school, fired from work, barred from attending sports events, club activities, evicted from homes, going to jail or worse the death penalty, depending on where in the world you live for what is deemed as bad behavior. The point is we all have laws and societal rule that we have to abide by, it is just a matter of learning the rules and respecting them (but not necessary agreeing with them!).
7. Is Cancel Culture Good or Bad
It is neither. It is a necessity for societies to co-exist. Like everything it needs to be moderated so it is not abused by either extreme where people can behave freely without consequence or where people cannot behave at all (say or do anything!). It needs to be clearly understood as to its purpose and place in society.
8. Further Reading
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This page was last updated on 13, May, 2022
Getting Called Out!
What it means to be cancelled:
- Unfollowing on social media accounts
- Negative memes and comments
- Revoked sponsorship deals
- Less business opportunities
- Bad press