The Problem With Cancel Culture

Nowadays, everything is exposed and handled on social media, including celebrities’ personal lives. The beauty of social media is that everyone has the freedom to speak their mind, express their opinions and interact with others all over the world. Unfortunately, with this large use of social media, a new wave of mob mentality known as “cancel culture” has emerged.

According to the Urban Dictionary, to cancel is “to dismiss something/somebody; to reject an individual or an idea.” This tends to happen when a person, usually a celebrity, says or does something deemed unacceptable by the general public, and those on social media will collectively decide to “cancel” that person. The person in question will no longer be supported, whether this is through products they sell, films/shows they are a part of or just things they post online. We’ve seen people such as Harvey Weinstein, Kanye West, Logan Paul, Taylor Swift, Laure Lee and just most recently, Jordyn Woods, be cancelled.

Of course, some such as Harvey Weinstein and Logan Paul, deserve to be cancelled for their monstrous acts. The people who are cancelled generally have done/said something questionable or problematic, which should not be ignored. However, cancel culture has brought a new aspect to mob mentality on social media, stronger than has ever been seen before. It seems that someone is always in being cancelled at any given moment in time. Peoples’ lives can become destroyed over a tweet or something they did or said from days to years ago.

This is not to say things such as racism, sexism or sexual harassment are issues that should be looked over. The problem is that cancel culture tends to dehumanize those that are being cancelled. Recently, it seems that anyone can be cancelled and it only takes something as small as a controversial tweet made years ago to suddenly start receiving hate from thousands of people, and in some cases to have it even affect their career.  A celebrity can be flooded with love and support, and within a matter of hours, start being attacked everywhere on social media.

The issue is we tend to feel safe on social media, with the ability to hide behind a screen under an anonymous username. A barrier is created between us and whoever happens to be the subject of hate at that particular moment. It is easy to become empowered and forget that our words are being seen by others, and that they may have consequences. Cancelling has added a whole new layer to hate online because it’s a catchy and funny phrase, thereby taking away from the actual celebrity in question. People have become addicted to saying something/someone is cancelled; they stop paying attention to the people being affected by the situation.

I believe a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, then it shouldn’t be said to them online either. It’s important to ensure people, especially those in the public eye, are held accountable for their actions. We should always make others aware of their possibly ignorant or problematic comments, but instead of sending hate and shunning, give them the chance to learn and improve, as we hope would be the case if the roles were reversed. Of course this will always depend on the severity of the situation at hand, such as in the case of committing a crime. At the end of the day though, justice and respect are equally important and one should not necessarily be sought out at the expense of another.

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