When a celebrity or public figure has done or said something considered offensive, people withdraw support and often shame them on social media — this is known as cancel culture.
In 2020, Ellen DeGeneres, a renown American comedian who hosts the Ellen DeGeneres show, was “canceled” as she was exposed by her former employees. She faced multiple allegations for creating toxic work environments and accusations for sexual harassment, according to NPR.
J.K Rowling, known as the author of the Harry Potter series, was also canceled after she made transphobic comments on Twitter. From entertainers to authors, online platforms are ruthless when judging one’s actions and their past.
In an era where people rely on social media and the internet to obtain up-to-date news and information, cancel culture may give an incorrigible image attack to anyone, especially celebrities and social media influencers.
Cancel culture is a term to describe ostracism online, and it became so prevalent in the online world that it overpowers the truth behind a situation in some cases. The spread of false information and prejudices is so swift that before one can make an “apology video” addressing the situation, the public faces against them and starts finding a new prey to “cancel.”
As cancel culture, in other words, is public shaming, those who attempt to “cancel” others tend to be bold and exaggerating. However, the public, receiving the information would believe the source without doubting its reliability.
Moreover, Rowan Atkinson, an actor well known as Mr. Bean, criticizes the current cancel trend comparing anonymous online citizens to a “medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn”. He said canceling has gone too far to the point where it restricts the expression of widespread opinions since people are worried for every single action or trace they leave on the media.
Empowered by this destructive trend, “tea” accounts throughout social media discussing gossip take a role in the spread of information. Whether the gossip is truthful or not, such accounts post it, leaving the public to judge.
For example, TikTok Room Official on Instagram with over 130K followers dedicates its account to “expose” SNS figures by posting controversial comments or pictures the influencer posted, or their DMs from an outside source, and even the posts they liked — overall anything that would spur public attention. The mental effects of such trivial jokes and hate comments derived from their post that shine the spotlight to the “prey” is myriad.
Furthermore, one factor that highlights the toxicity of cancel culture is that it never allows a second chance and forgiveness for the past. This does not imply that the public must forgive previous wrongdoings; instead, the public should move on and give a chance for improvement, further focusing on educating the “cancefled” person.
If children who make mistakes are taught to correct themselves and convicted people in jail receive a second chance through their court appeal, why can’t an influencer gain an opportunity to teach themselves, correct themselves, and apologize? The concept of cancel culture in fact contradicts itself, denying the same opportunity to everyone.
The bottom line is not that those who committed terrible acts should be forgiven or ignored by cancelling cancel culture; instead, it is that the problematic aspects of this toxic social phenomenon should be eliminated — its focus on false accusations calling for attention and the nature of denying forgiveness should be cancelled.