Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KCL chapter.

“Cancel Culture” is a phrase that has come into use within the last few years with most people falling victim to being “cancelled” by the internet for a range of reasons. But what does it mean and is it really useful?

What Is Cancel Culture?

The term “Cancel Culture” can be defined as a form of ostracism, most commonly practised in online spaces such as Twitter and Tiktok, in which a person, group, or organisation is “cancelled” for doing or saying something that people deem to be problematic. However, the issue arises when the internet doesn’t have a set list of things that are means for cancellation. These “cancellable” offences can range from anything such as making a joke in bad taste a decade ago to something that would warrant imprisonment, such as assault or exploitation.

Is It Good or Bad?

Simply put, it varies from situation to situation. Holding people accountable in public spaces such as social media is beneficial when done correctly, giving the person time to acknowledge and correct their mistakes whilst allowing other people to become aware of their actions. It allows for collective growth if handled maturely – but most people don’t handle it in that way.

This culture emphasizes individual accountability while ignoring the structural problems that frequently underline harsh conduct.

Janvi Kapur, “What Cancel Culture Is Doing To Our Mental Health”, Sportskeeda

For me, the issue comes when the “cancelling” turns toxic and people adopt a kind of gang mentality, “us” versus “them”, meaning they become aggressive and sometimes even turn to death threats and doxing (releasing personal information, usually a person’s home address). Even if the person’s actions are awful enough to spark such mass outrage, there are certain lines people shouldn’t cross for the sake of the mental health of anyone involved and simply because they shouldn’t stoop down to their level.

Another issue is one can minimise a person’s wrongdoings by referring to it as a form of “cancellation”, something that seems quite petty and trivial when they’ve committed actual crimes. Take the hashtag #CancelPercy that has been circulating on Twitter for the last few days in response to women speaking out about Percy Hynes White, who starred in Netflix’s hit show Wednesday. I will add that this was created by the victims, so it’s slightly different, but, fans of the show seem to be treating it as another period of internet drama rather than something that should require police involvement and jail time for his alleged actions.

So, How Can I Take a Step Back From Cancel Culture?

The easiest way to take a step back from Cancel Culture is to separate yourself from internet hysteria and to form your own opinions and methods of handling things. It’s extremely easy to get swept up in these issues if you haven’t yet realised their toxicity and the impacts they can have on mental health. Acknowledge that not everyone is willing to change, nor does everyone have to agree with your views and remember: bullying a bully is still bullying.

Hi! My name is Tanisha Ascott (they/she) and I’m a first year English student at KCL. I’m a fan of everything from interior design, to historical / contemporary fashion, to political issues. You’ll most likely find me crying over Pride & Prejudice (2005) if I’m not in the library.