We live in a world where people are connected virtually more than ever. The internet has broken geographical barriers and allowed people worldwide to interact wherever they are. However, social platforms can be powerful in a good and bad way, depending on which side you are. The cancel culture criticizes an individual or brand for something they said or did and calls for action against them. Continue reading for details about a culture causing a huge wave across the world in a manner that was not possible before online media existed.
What Is Cancel Culture?
Cancel culture is a relatively new concept to many people, but it has been happening. You might have come across it as you browse through social media pages and perhaps did not know the name for it. For instance, after singer R. Kelly was arrested for sexual misconduct, an uproar led to a popular tag ‘mute R. Kelly.’ It became a virtual movement against the artist following the alleged crimes he committed.
Another example is about US President Donald Trump for his racist remarks and distasteful comments about women. Besides, Netflix has of late attracted criticism for streaming a film called ‘Cuties’ where teenage girls are portrayed in an explicit sensual manner. These are a few examples, and there are more. A brand or an advertising campaign can face the cancel culture for portraying something the public considers inappropriate.
Therefore, cancel culture is where people mostly use online platforms to call out an individual, company, or brand for saying, writing, or doing something inappropriate in society. It could be a racist remark, demeaning comments about a given gender, or an advert in bad taste. Cancel culture does not end there. When a huge number of people online condemn someone or something, they might end up pushing for its cancellation, the person being fired, or a brand dropping an ambassador or a partnership.
Cancel culture does not have to happen online. It occurs in our daily lives. For example, customers can demand the sacking of a given store attendant for their terrible customer care. The employer might give in to the pressure if they feel it is good for the business.
When Did Cancel Culture Arrive?
Cancel culture existed before the internet. For example, conservatives would adopt the culture when people or things did not support their views. The specific date for when cancel culture arrived is debatable. Some observers say it started with the #MeToo movement. It was about women disclosing being victims of abuse and violence through public avenues. Besides, people of a given religion or culture would cancel a personality or a group to say or do something wrong or demeaning about them. However, the internet has taken cancel culture to another level. Today, people in different areas or countries can unite against a company or an individual for their deeds.
Does Cancel Culture Actually Work?
Cancel culture works to some extent. For example, the Academy Awards had to drop Kevin Hart as the 2019 host for his homophobic tweets and jokes in the past. The decision might not have affected the comedian’s reputation or financial status as much, but it was something. Besides, President Trump has not faced any consequences for his degrading comments about women, immigrants, and any other topic he feels degrading. I mean, he currently leads one of the most powerful countries in the world.
However, some companies have had to fire or suspend employees under fire from the cancel culture movement. Some have stopped partnerships with a person or brand in question after people demanded action against the individual. Therefore, cancel culture works in a few circumstances but not always.
5 Reasons Why People Love Cancel Culture?
Cancel culture has led to some good in society, with individuals using it to call for change and action. Nonetheless, why do people love to cancel culture?
1. Improves Social Status
One can use cancel culture to bring down an opponent, which boosts one’s social status. Perhaps you know something about a competitor that people may not like. You expose it, and the attention that a person receives gives you a push to a better social status. It might not be the right thing to do, but life circumstances and greed can make people do anything for success.
2. Shortcut to Bringing down Enemies
People love to cancel culture because they can use it to ‘destroy’ their enemies fast. Yes, there are many ways of defeating a rival, but they might take time and come with risks. However, canceling someone or something is an easy way to have people garnering against the enemy and helping you push forward.
3. Provides and enhances social bonds
As mentioned earlier, cancel culture is a collective endeavor. People come together to protest against someone or an idea. In the process, they are building social bonds that might continue even past the movement. There is power in numbers, and that sense of belonging and togetherness unites people even more towards a common purpose.
4. Makes It Easier to Identify ‘Enemies.’
Through cancel culture, one can identify payers who support one’s course and those who do not. Canceling an opinion, person or brand attracts opinions from many people. From those viewpoints, you can easily establish who to keep as an ally and who let go. This is common with celebrities doing endorsements or actors. There are many controversies in the world today. Someone can easily lose a deal because of something they said on social media or at an event, and it caught the public eye.
5. Offers Instant Rewards
The other reason why people like cancel culture is the fast rewards it provides. You can grow your brand or business doing good things. However, when you cancel someone or something inappropriate, you easily lure people to support your stand. As you bring down the other person or something, you get to achieve your objective much faster.
The Cancel Culture Is Killing Creativity
Gone are days when we would speak our mind unapologetically. People would write, sing, and say whatever they wanted without worrying about someone misunderstanding them and causing a fuss. Those who did not like the message would brush it off and let go. It is a different case with the world we currently live in. Today, a writer, singer, or comedian has to create content that does not offend anyone in society carefully. Otherwise, one is likely to experience the wrath of the cancel culture. This is killing creativity.
Sometimes a content creator wants to say things as they are because we all have the right to have opinions. However, the world has changed, and people have become ‘sensitive’ to everything. They look for mistakes in one’s speech with a fine-tooth comb. Movie scripts have change lines to accommodate everyone; journalists change their wording; writers have to consider how each sentence might affect one reader. We are losing creativity because of too much editing.
How to Protect Your Reputation Online in Today’s ‘Cancel Culture’
It does no matter whether you are popular or not. We all like to have a good reputation. So, how do you protect your reputation online in today’s cancel culture era?
First, keep your image in check while we online. As a brand, track comments and carefully reply to feedback and criticism. However, as an individual, double-check what you intend to post online. Careless wording or photos might cause you embarrassment in the future or cost you your job.
Audit what you have published online. Check your comments for anything that makes you vulnerable to negative exposure. Delete those suggestive pictures and questionable comments. Ask your finds or colleagues to erase anything on their devices that might not act in your favor if it goes public.
Learn to think before sharing anything online. When angry, sad, or disappointed, the temptation to say the wrong things is high. Social media is one place people go to rant. Do not do that. Use it to convey your messages in a civilized manner and channel your anger and frustration somewhere else.
Besides, come up with unique, hard to crack passwords for your accounts. Utilize a password manager. It will enable you to safely store complex passwords instead of memorizing them, especially several. You do not want a hacker stealing your identity and using it for whatever they want.
Secure your online activity to protect your data. Avoid browsers, email providers, and search engines that track your data for advertising. Use a VPN to make your IP address and browsing activity anonymous.
Cancel Culture: Is It a Positive Social Change or Toxic Online Harassment?
It is both of those things. Cancel culture can cause a huge movement against an individual or a brand for all the good reasons. It has helped people speak out about the transgressions they have faced and formed social bonds. Some justice has been achieved with people being fired and imprisoned.
However, some people have gotten out of cancellation unscathed except for the negative publicity. Nonetheless, the cancel culture also creates a toxic online harassment environment. Some individuals use it to bring down others. Besides, the things that cause the cancel uproar vary in severity, yet they all attract a little too much harassment.
How Capitalism Drives Cancel Culture
Capitalism contributes to cancel culture in various ways. A company fires an employee after masses’ demands for action against him or her. Sometimes organizations do this to protect their reputation without hearing the other side of the story. The person under fire might apologize for the mistake, but that does not change the employer’s view. We have seen companies stop working with a given person or brand for the negative exposure happening. People are judged in the public eye without the due course of the law.
The Bottom Line
Cancel culture has its advantages and downsides. It has given a voice to victims of social injustices. However, some people use it for the wrong reasons. The movement may not lead to huge wins, but it has led to some relief for participants. It not only public figures but also ordinary people who get into the limelight for something considered inappropriate.