I was 19 when I first discovered the world of social media, and content creation. It’s been five years, and while the influencer industry boomed, the rise in trolling and online hate also massively grew. “Cancel culture”, as we know it, is now one of the most toxic aspects of social media. While I’ve been lucky enough (so far) to not have encountered it myself, I’ve witnessed, as have you — many fellow creators being cancelled — and it has left a bitter taste in my mouth.
It’s unfortunate that something that started o with the intention of holding people accountable for their actions and behaviour, has now turned into a mere trend to hop on to. People are quick to ‘cancel’ anyone who doesn’t align with their view, or even for something as petty as liking someone that they might dislike. It upholds an extremist point of view, and crucifies people on the basis of something they have said or done in the past, without taking into consideration the evolution the said person has probably gone through. Now, I’m not talking about people who’ve committed heinous crimes, right? I’m talking about people like you and I, who live in this fear of being cancelled, for the most minor disagreements.
Cancel culture doesn’t acknowledge or believe in growth. Judgement outweighs justice. It’s become similar to a witch hunt in today’s day and age. It’s an attack, and zero chances at redemption. The influencers, especially, bear the brunt of cancelling because let’s be honest, it’s hard to cancel a big celebrity, and the former makes an easy prey. Let me give you an example. Celebrity comedian Louis CK was accused of multiple sexual assault cases (which he admitted to), and he received a lot of flak. He was cancelled for roughly two years, only to later sell out theatres for his shows. Despite the predatory behaviour, he still has an audience. The consequences change drastically for an influencer or anyone on social media with a smaller audience. Cancelling them doesn’t just involve the social and professional boycott, it’s followed by threats, their family is dragged and shamed, their privacy is compromised, and in many cases, countless numbers of false narratives are built to add fuel to the fire. Very little fact checking is done, and many people get caught in the crossfire. Where’s the scope for error? It doesn’t exist.
What we sorely lack as a collective, is empathy. Put yourself in the place of the person you’re set out to cancel. If someone you know expresses something that is extremely o ensive/ irresponsible, will you cancel them, or will you look at them as a fellow human, fully capable of making mistakes, but also capable of fixing what they break, and becoming a better person from it? Holding someone accountable for their actions doesn’t have to involve harassment. There are better ways to put your point across and call out problematic, or insensitive behaviour. It’s important to separate the person from their social media post. What we need is reform, and reform takes time. It allows people to reflect on their actions, understand the hurt they might have caused, take accountability, sincerely apologise, and work on themselves. Bullying is not going to make someone a better person. If anything, it makes people manipulative, so as to avoid social media outrage. So does our cancel campaign really help? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
A much healthier way is to do our own research, and fact-check before we jump on the bandwagon. We need to express our opinion in a way that asks questions, opens a dialogue, and is a conversation, as opposed to a blind judgement passed with the hashtag cancel. We need to understand that it’s a real person at the receiving end, and our words and actions can contribute to a much bigger problem if we are not conscious about how we’re communicating Shaming and trolling will not bring real change, but an actual, openminded, healthy conversation can. It’s a given that influencers have a massive responsibility on their shoulders with what they put out. Yes, it’s crucial for us to be even more careful and conscious of our communication and actions, but the fear of being cancelled can’t be the reason why someone has to agree with you. Call out, don’t cancel.