The Hidden Blessing in Cancel Culture

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

People are not TV shows. You can’t just “cancel” them because people disapprove of the things they do or because of the things they failed to do.

If someone does something illegal, there are punitive measures that have long been in place to deal with that. If someone does something immoral, they get exposed and deal with the consequences.

Cancel culture is something entirely different from criticism and accountability. Cancel culture is about excavating the shortcomings of someone’s past to embarrass them and to ruin their livelihood in the present.

Another way cancel culture shows itself is the intentional or unintentional misrepresenting of someone’s stance on a topic and turning a subculture against that person.

Yet another way cancel culture reveals itself is when someone actually commits a crime or acts out of personal desire while not considering the ramifications this would have on the lives of others.

Obviously only one of these manifestations warrants any kind of backlash but it is because cancel culture was once a fairly decent phenomenon where actual criminals were being called out, people noticed the kind of power that the phenomenon wielded and used it against anyone they didn’t like or anyone that disagreed with them.

It’s about taking power away from one individual by pointing out their flaws (whether real or invented) but in doing so, the person who calls out the offending party seems to receive power themselves.

It was their tweet that pushed for this other person to lose a sponsorship. It was their Facebook post that got them fired from their job. It was their TikTok video that made them kill themselves.

Now that’s power. But it’s also hypocritical.

The fact of the matter is, when someone does something illegal it needs to be reported to the authorities. Not blasted on social media to embarrass them. Other people could be hurt if the situation isn’t handled appropriately, not to mention that people think that cancelling someone is the same as a prison sentence. It isn’t.

But when people dig up the past or misrepresent someone to show them in a bad light, the irony is as clear as day because there isn’t a soul on this planet who didn’t do something they regretted in the past. There isn’t one person who isn’t guilty of something immoral or selfish.

How can anyone pass judgment if this is the case? Why would someone dig up another person’s past to embarrass them when the same act can be used against them?

Sure, hiding behind an anonymous account makes that terrifically easy. But it also illustrates the cowardice and the inability to stand behind one’s post because one knows that there is no merit behind it.

These words are weapons to make one feel better about oneself. It’s a power play at the expense of someone else’s perceived power.

Again, I have no issue with calling out those who have genuinely abused others. But the authorities need to be involved and many have not been brought to justice because many in the social media mob are not interested in getting convictions like those in #MeToo for example. They just want power.

By now you’re probably asking, “So what the hell is the hidden blessing then?”

As I said before, there is no one who can say that they are not guilty of some immoral or selfish act. It’s just like that thing that guy from the Middle East said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I may not be Christian but I have to give credit where it’s due. Jesus’ words perfectly explain why cancel culture is totally bogus.

Alexi McCammond got called out for racist and homophobic tweets she made when she was a teen in 2019, apologized, deleted them, continued her career in journalism, continued to excel, got a job at Teen Vogue, and then screenshots of these old tweets condemn her into walking away from the position.

How absurd! Her conduct of today does not reflect these old tweets. She took accountability and apologized. But her livelihood gets threatened anyway. Are we to assume that in another two years she will be cancelled again and forced to quit whatever job she finds herself in?

If you can see the absurdity of cancel culture, you can probably also see that cancel culture has always existed. People always casted judgment on others despite the fact that they were also flawed and guilty of past mistakes. They just didn’t go to Twitter about it to put people on blast. But we’ve always judged others.

This is why cancel culture is — and it’s weird to say this, but — good. Cancel culture exposes our hypocrisy.

Imagine the world we could have if we stopped judging and condemning one another. People would be free to be who they are. When people made an error which they inevitably will, the punishment will be more humane and there would be more focus on rehabilitation and improving the infrastructure to prevent others from falling into the same mistakes.

We may be able to get rid of many –isms or at least we could heavily curtail them. As a result, we would see more love and peace in the world. The difficult conversations between historical adversaries can finally be had and maybe put to rest once and for all.

When we meet ignorance, we won’t react with hostility. We will remember that we too were ignorant. Maybe not about the same issue as the person we are observing or listening to. But we know that we were wrong in the past.

Moreover, we know that we cannot with any certainty claim that we have the truth about a matter. With so many varied lives within the world, how can anyone claim truth? And I don’t mean truth as in the color of the sky or whether or not you told the truth about a matter.

I mean the complex, nuanced, multicultural and contrasting variables of life that cause us to be different people in the first place and to therefore make different decisions.

As globalization increases and the distance between us all continues to shrink, we are learning more and more about how people around the world think, perceive, behave and place value. Can we at the very least listen to what others have to say? Can we even do this for the people who live in the same country as us? It would be kind of us to try.

Do I think enough of us are going to choose to drop judgment and condemnation for our world so that the next generation has a shot at a better life? It’s hard to say. The media profits off of negativity and then the viewers of the media become the very thing that they hate in an attempt to protect themselves.

But if we don’t do something about this by hitting it at its root, I’m afraid we’re done for.

So I invite you to cancel cancel culture by cancelling the very things that give rise to it in the first place. Our reliance on judgment and condemnation to make ourselves superior and to gain power has served our egos well, but now it is getting in the way of monumental progress.

It’s time to let them go and time to pick up understanding, accountability and rehabilitation.

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