The Effects of Cancel Culture

by Michelle Sun ‘24

Source: The New York Times

Published Feb. 25th 2021

Cancel culture, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “the popular practice of… (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

It may be difficult for the “cancelees” to have to deal with the brutality of the internet, especially since others will never understand the full story of someone else’s situation. It goes to say that it is incredibly difficult to bounce back after being canceled and that most are aware it could damage one’s reputation for life. One of the most brutal things about cancel culture is that it lingers forever, whether the claims are disproven or not. There will always be that thought in the back of someone’s mind when they think about how someone was once accused of something that could have been an irreversible offense.

Another thing that is so dangerous about cancel culture is the bandwagon effect. Billions of people use social media, and if one user makes a statement to cancel a company or celebrity of some sort, many can quickly agree with them without much thought into their opinions. Rumors spread on social media the same way they do in real life, and when there are billions of voices to pass through, the message ends up very different each time it reaches a new receiver.

On the contrary to the negatives of cancel culture, it can also be a good way to educate a public figure or company to develop and become better. To a certain extent, if one made an honest mistake but was genuinely understanding of their issue, getting canceled could teach them the faults of their actions or statements.

Cancel culture does not only refer to an immediate attack on a public figure after one mistake. It also refers to simply avoiding someone else’s content, not wanting them to make profits anymore if you disagree with their moral standpoints. In order to achieve a more peaceful and respectful online community, sometimes it is absolutely necessary to cancel some people. Certain figures may only contribute the worst to online society, and removing them from the platform or having mass discontinuation of support might ultimately be better for everyone.

Cancel culture is difficult to define as necessary or not: on one hand, canceling is a part of a very toxic and damaging environment, especially with false accusations. On the other hand, sometimes it may be the only way for social media to become a desirable place again, removing certain people’s right to influence others in a negative way.

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