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Why We Shouldn’t Perpetuate Cancel Culture

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

For those of you who do not know, cancel culture has been making its way around the internet for years. Essentially, the meaning behind cancel culture is to stop supporting someone or something, or in essence, to “cancel” something. While the idea of cancel culture doesn’t sound bad, there is, and should be, a clear distinction between no longer supporting something (or someone) and canceling their existence (which is now what the later form of the culture has become). 

One of the most prominent cases in recent years was back in 2016, when singer/songwriter Taylro Swift was the target of cancel culture. The internet responded to tweets from ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Kimye, and others by tweeting the hashtag #TaylorSwiftisoverparty, which was the number one trending hashtag worldwide. Swift asked in her recent documentary Miss Americana, “Do you know how many people have to be tweeting that they hate you for that to happen?” Everyone was jumping on board, and as Taylor explained in the documentary (Writer’s note: a must-see, please watch it as soon as you are done reading), the hatred of people on the internet drove her into a year of hiding. Swift mentions in the documentary, “Nobody physically saw me for a year, and that was what I thought they wanted.”

She goes on to explain the mental effects that the world’s hatred had on her. Swift says in the film that “when people decided I was wicked, and evil, and conniving, and not a good person, that was the one that I couldn’t really bounce back from, because my whole life was centered around it.” She talks about how the image she had carefully constructed for herself came burning down in seconds, and how something could be skewed so much that it affected everything she had worked to create. 

Through tears, Taylor explains that “it just feels like it’s more than music now at this point. And just most days I’m, like, okay, but sometimes I’m just like, it just gets loud sometimes.” Taylor comments on how the feeling of being hated by so many people is devastating and how the constant pressure from the industry caused her to develop serious mental problems and insecurities. 

While this was just one case, many other people have come under fire the same way Swift did, and when you can hide behind a screen, a lot of people forget just how painful their words can be. Just because Taylor Swift is a global superstar doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have feelings. It doesn’t mean that someone you disagree with doesn’t have feelings either. While it’s all fine and good to express your opinion, attacking someone to make them feel like they shouldn’t be doing what they want to do is unfair. Not only that, but claiming that their career is over because you disagree with time, or threatening to cancel them as cancel culture implies, isn’t the answer. It has never been the answer and should never be the answer. 

While luckily, Taylor was able to rise from the ashes of her…well..reputation, and come back with one of the world’s most iconic and highest grossing tours ever performed, not many others have that luxury. This kind of culture is different from “unstanning” or no longer supporting, this is a blatant attack on someone’s existence, and targeting them for the world to see just because you do not like the work that they do or what they have produced. While I think that it’s important for people to be critical of others and express opinions, in no way should anyone ever try to intentionally hurt someone due to a disagreement they have. 

taylor image reputation album
Photo by Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash
Flash forward, to recent weeks where the full tape of the Kanye call was leaked. Many people have taken to social media once again tweeting #kanyeisoverparty. No matter where I fall on the matter (which I think is quite clearly on team Taylor all the way), I still firmly believe that cancel culture is harmful. It perpetuates bullying and the direct attempt to cause harm to someone and their mental health. Again, while I think that Kanye is fully and clearly in the wrong, in no way should anyone choose to bully another human. If we learned anything from Taylor and her experiences, it’s that she wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, so stop perpetuating cancel culture, and stop being mean to people just because you can hide behind a screen. 

Mental health is not something that you should play with, and the effects of mass hatred being directed at one person, even if they are a celebrity, can still have negative effects on their mental health. No matter who they are, they are still human, whether they have a billion fans or just a few friends. This narrative is teaching up-and-coming members of social platforms that it is okay to treat others this way, and it will continue to push us further and further away from a unified and accepting culture that many people are hoping for. 

It is hypocritical to promote things like body positivity and self-love, when in the same breath, we send hate to someone online and try to cancel them. If you disagree with someone, state your opinions in a clear and calm manner without harsh language directed at them. If you have a difference of opinion, consider no longer supporting that artist, but do not think that it will not have an effect on them if you say something mean online. Cancel culture is dangerous, especially as it is taught to younger and younger digital natives who may not fully understand the repercussions of their words in a digital landscape. 

Think about who you might hurt, and if you think you might hurt anyone at all with what you are about to tweet, say, or post, don’t send it. The only way to stop the spread of harmful words is to stop using them to describe people and things that we disagree with or that are not in our own personal preferences. Help make the world a better place, and stop perpetuating the narrative that a dislike for something means it shouldn’t exist at all. 


Quotes from the Miss Americana Documentary available to stream on Netflix


Talia is the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Emerson. Talia is also a Chapter Advisor, Region Leader, and HSA Advisor. She has previously worked as an intern for the national headquarters of Her Campus in the community management department. Talia is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College in a 4+1 combined bachelor's and master's program in publishing. She is an aspiring writer and publisher. Talia is known for living life with her journal, a pen, and three lovely cats.