The Irony of Cancel Culture

Publicly shaming people for moral transgressions is nothing new. It has been present for millennia but judicial use of public shaming has fallen out of favour in most of the modern world and is now considered a cruel and unusual punishment.

This doesn’t mean public shaming is gone, just that it has transformed into something different: cancel culture.

While the term cancel culture was first used in 2017, the idea has been around for a while on social media. In essence, cancelling someone is withdrawing support from a public figure or company for something they’ve said or done.

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Typically, this withdrawal is because said figure or company has done something that would be morally, ethically, or personally objectionable in some way. This would more often than not have massively negative impacts on one’s social standings and career.

Despite its good intentions , cancel culture it is a bit of a mess now.

The Rise of Cancelling

With the rise of social media, platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram have gone from a place to crack jokes and connect with others to something different.

Now, these platforms are where thousands of businesses, celebrities, and content creators advertise themselves and even make a living selling product and making content for what is now millions of users.

However, the climate of these platforms has changed quickly in just a few years. Jokes and comments that used to be commonplace are no longer considered appropriate both in policy and in the consumer’s view.

With more digital eyes on these sites than ever before, public figures are subject to more scrutiny. No longer are the rich and famous free to do whatever they want. With thousands to millions of users on social media watching these figures, they can be held accountable for any actions they take, theoretically.

The Issue with Cancelling

While the idea of cancel culture isn’t malicious in nature, like most things it is different in practice. Cancelling people for their opinion is not only objectionable but also validates it.

Whilst there have been people who have said or done problematic things cancelling someone often ignores some important factors. One very early example is the boycotting of the 2013 movie Ender’s Game.

This was over the author’s, Orson Scott Card, religious beliefs over same-sex marriage. As a Mormon, Card did not believe that they should be allowed to marry and had written several opinion pieces about it.

While I don’t agree with his belief, you must remember that he, like all people, has a right to religion and their opinion. One thing many people seem to forget is that opinions and ideas are not the issues, but the actions that stem from them.

Card is allowed to believe and say what he wishes, but if acts on them in a way that interferes with the rights of others then that is where the problems start.

We shouldn’t be calling people out for their opinions, these opinions are what allows a society to improve and to develop new ideas. The freedom of speech is the entire basis of our democratic society yet some do not believe so when it comes to dissenters to their cause.

Take Jordan Peterson for example, the psychologist had come under fire for his less than stellar views on modern-day feminism and the implications of bill C-16. Obviously, the mature and thoughtful thing.

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