The History of Cancel Culture

Cancel culture was once used by the rich; now it has switched sides.

If you’ve ever read historical novels set in regency times, then you’ve read about being cut. Being cut meant that people walked right past you without acknowledging your existence. You were cut if you did something that was unacceptable to the ‘ton.’ The ton were the members of British high society.

The term Regency (or Regency era) can refer to various stretches of time; some are longer than the decade of the formal Regency, which lasted from 1811 to 1820. The period from 1795 to 1837, which includes the latter part of George III’s reign and the reigns of his sons George IV and William IV, is sometimes regarded as the Regency era, characterised by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture. Source.

Being Sent to Coventry

This practice of socially ostracizing people did not die out when the regency came to an end. It has been with us since then. I first came into contact with this practice when I was at school in Grahamstown in South Africa. I attended one of South Africa’s posh private schools, and very soon I was sent to Coventry. It meant that I was ostracized. My sin was that I did not adhere to the way the upper crust English were socialized. As the daughter of an Afrikaans boer and a German Jew, I was unaware of those ways of doing things. It didn’t help that I was a high functioning autistic human being with Asperger’s and an auditory processing disorder. It was painful to be ignored.

To send someone to Coventry is an English idiom meaning to deliberately ostracise someone. Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company, and acting as if they no longer exist. Victims are treated as though they are completely invisible and inaudible. Coventry is the cathedral city in the West Midlands. Source.

Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is not a new phenomenon. It has always been used by the powerful to isolate those of whom they disapproved. Cancel culture is merely a retaliation of the many against the few. The web has added a powerful dimension to the practice. It’s quite amusing to watch the tables being turned upon the very people who once used ostracism as a means of controling others. They do not see the irony of throwing their toys out of their cots as they suffer the same thing.

The Plusses and Minuses of Social Ostracism

Are there any plusses when it comes to social ostracism? For a long time, it meant that people didn’t deviate from what was considered acceptable in their communities. So being gay was not acceptable. Being an atheist was not acceptable. Marrying a person of color was not acceptable. Having a baby outside of holy wedlock was not acceptable.

So those people were ostracized.

Today, those things are acceptable, and if you speak against them, you might be ostracized — or canceled — and it could affect your income. In fact, it probably will affect your income.

The worm has turned.

Unfortunately, it also means that, just as previously, sometimes people can be ostracized for things that they believed or have acted upon, and they might not have known they were unacceptable. Or maybe they went against the mainstream, and the mainstream was wrong. It happens.

Groupthink is not always correct, and it is groupthink that decides whether someone should be canceled or not. So innocent people can suffer.

Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the believe that dissent is impossible. The problematic or premature consensus that is characteristic of groupthink may be fueled by a particular agenda — or it may be due to group members valuing harmony and coherence above critical thought. Source.

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Global citizen. Author. Thinker. Polymath. Climate change. Progressive. Loves photography, beauty, dancing, and believes benevolence is a survival mechanism.

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