Cancel culture: a culture behind the curve

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Photo credit: Victoria Wittenberg

By Victoria Wittenberg, Section Editor

Cancel culture: A complete intolerance towards any social behavior deemed as unacceptable by society. But the ideal-turned-fad promotes the critical inaccuracy that mistakes can, or should be, fatal. In an era of anti-bigotry, we’ve found our culture and our community heading for the gutter. 

To validate cancel culture, two things must be true: Mistakes, whether they affect others or not, are irreparable and that one’s way of thinking is unreformable. Notice that both are inherently incorrect. Throughout history we’ve seen people just like us change their mindset and the moral code by which they live. The human race is bound to make mistakes, it’s how we evolve as a species that’s most important.

It’s our own fault that cancel culture sets an impossible standard. We set all of these celebrities and influencers up to fail by glorifying the ground they walk on, just for it to crumble beneath them when we see fit. Ask yourself if idolizing people was ever remotely healthy in the first place. What about people who are undeniably toxic? When you watch your favorite reality show, do you ask yourself if their behavior is acceptable? Otherwise, you shouldn’t be in a hurry to cancel some teenager on TikTok either. 

Make no mistakes, zero-tolerance policies on things like racism, sexism and queerphobia should be in place. However, it should always be our goal to educate and reform, rather than to bully those who don’t reflect proper morals into being silent. As Americans, we take pride in the amount of free speech we have. Unfortunately, we can’t take away one’s free speech just because they say something blatantly ignorant. 

As the age of relentless activism and social awareness rises, it’s becoming the expectation that everyone does what they can to better the world — no excuses. While some take it as far as going zero waste, others still struggle to outline basic human rights. However, cancel culture provides a hands-off, lazy way to say that you care about the world we live in. In reality, this twisted culture breeds all kinds of toxic behavior and only has consequences for the creators of the content we feed into. 

Think about this: The Black Lives Matter movement has 4.1 million followers on Instagram and Billie Eilish has 72.1 million followers on Instagram. If Billie Eilish got “canceled” she would still probably have more followers than one of the most popular, important movements across the nation. As media consumers, we ask for the same drama and toxicity we claim to hate. And as the product of companies like Byte (who owns TikTok), we still manage to make every other dancing teenager unnecessarily rich, while watching families get evicted from their homes. The truth is that real activists don’t have time for the petty biases that we call cancel culture.

We’re all in this together, like it or not. We all have a responsibility to hold each other accountable in a productive way.  We’re so quick to accuse anyone who oversteps the boundaries that we never set. The hypocrisy has got to stop. It’s time for us to turn cancel culture into accountability culture.