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What Cancel Culture is

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Cancel culture. It means ‘cancelling’ or no longer supporting people—often celebrities—media or other things that are considered problematic. Cancel culture is becoming increasingly popular because our current society is moving to be more politically correct and inclusive. With the rise of social media also comes a rise in confidence in talking about topics people are less comfortable talking about in person. We’re becoming more aware of the importance of ensuring people are being respectful and not harmful with their comments and actions.

It seems reasonable to stop supporting someone who goes against what you personally stand for. Cancel culture forces people who are highly regarded in society to be held to the same standards as everyone else. It shows that we refuse to let people who have oppressive ideologies get away with being offensive as we are aware of how this type of behaviour can translate into minorities being harassed, disenfranchised or abused in real life because of these beliefs.

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Victims of cancel culture are usually people who have some sort of privilege but might not be aware of it. Sometimes they take advantage of this privilege to make jokes or marginalise minorities. People who often feel powerless in a society with systematic oppression believe cancel culture is important as it helps to bring attention to unacceptable behaviour and forces them to be held accountable. Some believe that it gives celebrities a chance to learn and grow from their mistakes because they should want to gain support back by showing that they’ve changed.

But cancel culture tends to be unwilling to allow people the capacity to learn from their mistakes. We condemn actions as good or bad, categorise people as good or bad, but the world isn’t black and white. What celebrities say and share are scrutinised. We put them on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect, but they’re just as human as us. Everyone has said or done something they’ve regretted before. The only difference is that our faults haven’t been broadcasted to the public.

Everyone comes from different backgrounds. They may not have been raised with the same level of social awareness as others. If someone is cancelled, they may not feel inclined to learn from their mistakes because people aren’t willing to give second chances. Telling someone they’re wrong but not helping them to understand why they’re wrong won’t encourage them to change. Ostracising people means they won’t alter their hurtful mindsets Instead, they will continue to harm people with their actions and words.

Some people view cancel culture as malicious, or as a pretentious form of bullying that gives no room for human error. It often deviates from the purpose of holding people accountable by focusing more on eradicating than educating. It becomes an opportunity to insult and shame the person that’s ‘cancelled’ because they’re considered an acceptable target. People who have the time and energy to find tweets from 2009 should spend that time and energy doing something positive, instead of deliberately looking for reasons to attack someone. People who are cancelled are not often meaning to be hurtful, but are just miseducated or unaware.

Cancel culture perpetuates the idea that an uneducated opinion invalidates someone’s willingness to change. When people work to become better, they are often reminded of their past actions. Continuing to bring up that ‘bad’ thing they did at every chance only holds people back from improvement. One past action isn’t proof that someone is irredeemable. If people understand what they did wrong and fix themselves for the future, why shouldn’t they be given a second chance? Instead of being unwilling to allow people to grow, we should encourage them to understand what they did wrong to create a learning opportunity for the future.

The people who need to be completely cancelled are those who are predators or abusers because those actions, past or present, can’t be excused. Those aren’t mistakes, those are crimes. It is not a crime, however, to be ignorant. It should be acceptable for people to make mistakes if they offer sincere apologies and demonstrate efforts to improve. Apologies should include understanding and acknowledging what they did wrong and committing themselves to do better.

It’s fine to ‘cancel’ someone if they show no signs of change or apology. We should be cancelling people who refuse to learn. We shouldn’t be cancelling someone who said something stupid or misinformed but has now outgrown that mindset. Everyone has their own opinions on who deserves forgiveness and everyone is entitled to those opinions. I just advise that you encourage people to be better by showing them what they did wrong without tearing them down or alienating them completely. 

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