BY CAMERON CAMMACK
Waking up, I once again open Twitter to yet another celebrity hashtag trending worldwide, getting in hot water over a mistake that they had made over five years ago. This remains a common event among different social media platforms and influencers who tend to have any sort of following. Many internet users tend to lurk hour after hour, waiting for an influencer to slip up for the opportunity to bash them, and sometimes even go as far as ruining their career, future, and even lives.
The issue with “cancel culture” is that it fails to consider not only the lessons a person may have learned since their mistake, but also that they have a world of eyes watching them make this mistake, allowing no room for growth or maturation. On Twitter and Tiktok especially, it’s become a very apparent issue that teenagers will send these people death threats or ruin future opportunities for them, rather than simply educating the ignorant person. This poses the question of how the perpetrator of the scandal will learn from their mistakes rather than just feel anger for the community “canceling” them.
Cancel culture is a hot topic among the internet and society in today’s age as it occurs nearly every day with nearly everything. Books, movies, celebrities, businesses, etc, are cancel worthy all depending on the action that occurred. While it’s impossible to time travel and change mistakes you made or reverse things you’ve said, you may still face consequences for these things years down the road. Is it understandable to be upset for controversial or even offensive behavior? Yes, but should it come at the expense of ruining an entire career? That is where the line between cancellation and educating someone is very thin and has a massive grey area.
Due to this issue, many celebrities have contested this crazed internet tradition.“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,” says Taylor Swift following the backlash faced for her knowledge of lyrics contained within Kanye West’s ‘Famous’. While Swift discussed her opinion on cancel culture and even on being “canceled” herself in the past, she still remains extremely successful, showing that these controversies may not get internet fiends the outcome they may be yearning for. It happens that many celebrities face repercussions for their actions and can own up to their mistakes, so a cancellation tends to be unnecessary, sometimes. Of course, there are circumstances where these things or people should be discussed and the offensive behavior needs to be condemned and punishment inevitable.
In recent years, author Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” has been challenged and is no longer being included in many school’s curriculums due to profanity and sexual overtones present. This book has raised concerns to parents of students as early as 2001 as it has been a teaching point in various high schools over the years. Throughout many schools, this book has even become banned due to the explicit content involved. Of course, this is an understandable concern, but it is also vital to recognize the lessons that this content may teach rather than challenging a work of literature that has been read and taught for years. Teachers typically wouldn’t recommend or assign this book to read if there wasn’t a reason or key lesson to be taken from it.
While controversies are at the center of attention on the Internet, cancel culture in itself is deemed as controversial on whether it’s actually effective or if it’s counterproductive in holding people accountable for their actions. It’s common for people to “cancel” someone but soon return to supporting their content after the event of the cancellation because the cancel train trend had ended.
Online, it’s difficult to even monitor whose apologies may be sincere or not. So while some people who’ve made mistakes may face real consequences such as losing their jobs, many other Internet users get a free pass by being openly problematic and projecting offensive behavior. Nicole Dudenhoefer from the University of Central Florida discusses the effectiveness of cancel culture and how it divides people today. “Social media has certainly changed the way we communicate, providing more ways to connect than ever before. But in many ways, it’s dividing us and causing us to focus our energy where it isn’t always needed,” Dudenhoefer explains.
This poses the question of whether or not cancellations are effective or not when it seems as if these boycotting-like events divide many individuals across the internet, such as cyber-communities, internet friendships, and more. If we cancel someone who’s to say that they won’t repeat their actions over and over again. Overall, cancel culture creates an environment of tension online where people constantly argue over different scandals that occur, and whether or not there should be extreme repercussions or not. Discussions about whether or not you even speak on these issues even come into play here, if you say nothing, you’re basically an apologist of these actions.
It’s common to see tweets floating around the internet accusing the daily individual of not advocating towards social justice issues and not using their voice. It’s become a standard in recent years that if you don’t speak out about every issue, you’re a part of the problem. The complication with this is that it focuses on the amount of support raised for the issue rather than the issue itself; the priority should lie in advocating for positive change rather than fueling negative causes (such as being silent).
Considering the complexity of the internet and the contents it’s composed of, there needs to be a frequent discussion on cancel culture and if these situations are worth the effort taken for these situations. Life is simply too complex to decide between an all-or-nothing approach to these offenses, especially on the internet where depicting tones and attitudes of people through a screen, is next to impossible.
Cancel culture is such an abundance of opinions being skewed by thousands of internet users that it’s impossible to come to a final conclusion on whether or not this “you’re all good, or you’re all bad” attitude actually works, (Stacy DiLiberto, UCF). So next time you see a “#______isoverparty” trending on Twitter, consider the actions they took to get them to that point.