Cancel Culture? Canceled.


Alia Abbas

Cancel culture, a form of boycotting, doesn’t always work (Photo courtesy of Alia Abbas).

Cancellation never seems to end these days. I’m not talking about all the shows Netflix decides to end suddenly. I’m talking about all the times people decide to “cancel” celebrities, politicians, and world-leaders. Many people probably have seen the terms “cancel culture” or “____ Is Over Party” in the past decade, but the rise of this 21st century’s way of condemning misconduct is getting out of hand.

According to various present definitions, such as The Macquarie Dictionary, we have come down to two well-defining terms for the trend. The term “call-out culture” is a form of public shaming which occurs often on social media platforms, most prevalently Twitter, which aims to hold famous people accountable by calling attention to their misconduct and problematic behavior.

“Cancel culture”, on the other hand, is, in a way, a form of boycotting. A famous person who has shared a questionable opinion is first called out on social media. Then, the person is “canceled” by popular majority on these platforms, which leads to a rapid decrease in the person’s fanbase and support and ultimately, hurts their career and reputation.

In 2019, there was one question that felt impossible to ignore: “Has cancel culture gone too far?” The internet trend of calling problems into public attention has become enormously central to the discussions in 2019 that even Kim Kardashian and President Obama weighed in on. The recent uprise against cancel culture is when people condemn the trend as indiscriminate and unjust. Many people see this aspect of calling out as excessive punishment and a hint of immature bullying, especially noting that cancel culture usually settles among professional adults.

Cancel culture has taken a nasty turn the past few years. It turned from a vital call to action and justice for unfair issues into an attack on people of power, forcing them to face harsh consequences for their dense decisions. Cancel culture is beneficial because it makes racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior less likely to go unnoticed, especially for marginalized people. Many of those attacked are privileged, wealthy people or industry leaders who can’t handle this new cultural shift toward political correctness. Although it is important that these people are being called out, many are going about it in a disrespectful way.

“When you say someone is canceled, it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being. You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as ‘kill yourself,’” pop singer Taylor Swift told Vogue.

The line is illusive. It seemingly doesn’t exist, and because of that, it doesn’t allow people the capacity to learn from their mistakes and grow. Canceling someone is like writing them off, making them feel abandoned, making them feel no longer supported, no matter the apology and dedication the canceled person puts into regaining trust and validation from society. We see a conflict between what is really self-awareness, which canceling attempts to achieve, versus ignorance, which canceling usually results in.

It is a fascinating revolution to see, watching individuals recognize the capacity of power in uniting in such a negative way on social media. It’s intimidating just looking at the damage that is done to people’s reputations.

It is safe to say that our society isn’t black and white. Our morals are a gradient spectrum of opinions and thinking. Because every situation is so different, canceling someone for a mistake made in the past isn’t a justified and mature way of handling differing opinions or problematic behavior.

But whose place is it to say when someone should be canceled instead of forgiven? At the end of the day, absolutely every individual has their own opinion. In today’s rough world, and in the midst of condemning wrongful and hatred acts, it can be hard to find room for forgiveness in the murky cloud of negativity. It is critical for you to understand that the world we are all fighting for today is compassionate and forgiving, so we need to keep an open mind for human error and not let trends of harassing someone adamantly consume us.