“Cancel culture” has become a huge buzzword in the past few years, with most people strongly for or against it.
However, I think “cancel culture,” in its most popular usage, is commonly misused and misunderstood.
Most people lump all forms of accountability into “canceling,” which isn’t helpful. The phrase has become so overused and watered down that it’s basically meaningless.
I’ve often heard the phrase “an apology without changed behavior is just manipulation,” and I think this is what being “canceled” drives people to do: manipulate people into forgiving them when they aren’t truly sorry, they’re just sorry they got caught.
When we create viral hashtags like “#(name)isoverparty,” are we really holding people accountable?
It seems like most of the time, the response to this is a tearful video where the person tries to blame whatever bad thing they did on being in a “dark place” and then the cycle repeats in a year.
I’ve been in dark places before, as have most people, but this doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to excuse things like racism or sexism.
When people post videos of them crying because they got called out for bad behavior, they’re essentially just guilt tripping their fans back into supporting them, which isn’t OK.
However, not everyone has always been educated on social issues and why certain words, opinions or actions are harmful. I wouldn’t want people to judge me, a 22-year-old woman, on who I was as a teenager.
I know that if I went through all the articles I’ve written for the paper since I started working here in 2016, I probably wouldn’t agree with some of them now that I’ve learned and grown so much, even though I know I would never try to say something harmful or uneducated.
If someone acknowledges that they were unaware of what they were doing, and actively tries to educate themselves and stop doing whatever the harmful behavior was, I think that shows personal growth.
I think that people aren’t disposable, and I think in a way, it’s an act of love to hold someone accountable.
When we try to correct harmful behaviors, instead of just telling someone they’re bad, we are bettering our world and our community, as well as showing the person we value them enough to help them grow instead of ditching them.
Given that someone asks a question in good faith and with an open mind, instead of just trying to bait me into an argument, I’m always glad to discuss a difficult topic.
It can be exhausting always educating someone about social issues, but with the internet, it’s never been easier to share resources for people to educate themselves, or to even tell them they should do a little digging themselves.
However, I can understand why someone may not want to associate with someone who has said or done harmful things, even if it’s in their past and they’ve done what they can to correct it. People were still harmed, and I can also understand being burnt out on constantly educating people.
When our justice system focuses on punishment for a crime, instead of trying to stop people from committing crimes, or correcting their actions that may have hurt people, it isn’t surprising that most people have attitudes like this.
I don’t have all the answers, because I’m not an expert, but I do think there are ways we can handle difficult issues with a bit more nuance.
If we start focusing on preventing people from holding ignorant, harmful opinions, as well as try to educate someone who may hold these opinions, we’d be a lot more productive.
That being said, we aren’t under any obligation to forgive or support people who have caused harm and aren’t willing to do better.