Living in America is truly a privilege, and one a lot of people take for granted. Many seem to forget that the same freedom of speech they use to criticize this country is not available to many outside America. I’m not claiming that we’re without our fair share of problems, of course. We definitely have some.
One of these, one that I myself have been victim to, is outrage culture. It is the act of calling out an individual or group for behaviors that the collective Internet deems problematic. Now, in theory, this could be a good thing, but the problem lies in people getting so riled up and irrationally angry at the smallest things that many are now afraid of sharing their opinions in any meaningful capacity, for fear of being “cancelled.”
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Oftentimes, these people get offended by the most benign things, and go to great lengths to make their outrage known. And even more often, their rage is focused on whatever’s new at the time, not what’s most important. They are easily misled and will very rarely do their own research on the topic, choosing to just be “outraged” and make themselves seem like they’re standing on the moral high ground.
The most recent example is of the failed Sony/Disney Spider-Man deal (which at the time of writing this has been renewed, but the fact remains that for a couple months the future of Spider-Man in the MCU was pretty much over). It somehow got into the minds of the Internet that it was Sony’s fault for pulling him out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and wanted the character for themselves, and a lot of people (myself included, unfortunately) believed it without a second thought. As it turned out, however, this was not what was happening at all. In reality, it was Disney who was blocking the deal, as they wanted more rights to the character than they currently had (even though they own most of the rights anyways), and Sony, knowing Spider-Man is their most profitable franchise by far, refused. It was only recently that the two companies finally came to an agreement that let our favorite web-slinger back into the MCU.
But for the majority of the time when the contract was still in debate, the general public was livid with just Sony, and not Disney, though both companies were at fault. They took the first thing they saw about the whole debacle and blew it way out of proportion. #SonyIsCancelledParty was even trending on Twitter for a while. It just goes to show how easily people these days are riled up without knowing all of the facts.
Outrage culture has a sister; cancel culture, in which if a person slips up in any way or makes a mistake, they are cancelled, essentially, shunned and ridiculed on all platforms until they lose their following or disappear from the Internet entirely. This has happened a lot over the years; Onision, Slazo, James Charles, Keemstar, and many others just to name a few. Of course, some “cancellations” were justified, but a lot of them came about as a direct result of outrage culture.
A staple of cancel culture is that one may be cancelled for any number of reasons, but oftentimes for previous tweets or remarks made years or sometimes decades ago, even when what was said doesn’t reflect the person’s current beliefs and views. Just a single comment could be enough to completely tank your career, and because of this, many people heavily edit or censor their opinions online on even simple, inconsequential things just so they won’t get ridiculed down the line. I personally went on a cleansing binge recently, deleting every old account of mine so they can’t be used against me for whatever reason.
It’s swiftly becoming dangerous to have an opinion in this day and age, and I for one, hope we as a collective society decide to do something about it soon, before the only people allowed online are those who have no personality because all they do is pander to their audience.