For anyone older than around thirty years old, you may not be familiar with “cancelling” or “cancel culture.” They’re internet terms used to discuss problematic ‘famous’ people or things online. If an influencer or celebrity or company says or does something rude/inappropriate/wrong, it’s common for people, fans or not, to ‘cancel’ them, meaning that they’re cutting off support for said person/company.
Of course, it’s not as simple as ‘I don’t like Kanye West so I’m not going to listen to his music.’ No, cancel culture has evolved into harsh, life-ruining online bullying. Cancelled people may or may not get a chance to explain or apologize, and overnight, they could lose brand deals, money, followers, and more because people online get so angry and vicious and loud, and it becomes this mob-mentality of hate and rudeness. And while sometimes the offender did do something so bad it’s worthy of the treatment (Harvey Weinstein, for example, got cancelled by basically everyone on the planet) but often it’s smaller actions like an old racist tweet or a misinterpreted interview comment that are still bad but maybe not worth losing livelihoods over. As popular as cancel culture is, it’s also incredibly harmful, and a lot of people know this, but in a lot of internet communities, it’s very prevalent.
I like to keep up with YouTube drama. It’s mindless and I don’t really care for any YouTubers/Beauty Gurus, so I really am just there to keep up with pop culture and the nonsense. There have been many, many, many small scandals over the years, but there have also been a few larger events that really rocked YouTube. Through it all, cancel culture runs the most rampant because no one is there to police it, really. We have some entitled YouTubers doing dumb/awful/rude things because they can or don’t know better, drama channels/social media reporting it all and making it into A Big Deal, and impressionable fans cancelling left and right, forcing YouTubers to lose a lot and ‘go to a really dark place.’ It’s not a perfect system, but it is one that is kind of needed.
One drama/makeup YouTuber I watch occasionally wisely said in a recent video about MannyMUA’s cancelling experience that a lot of the times, it’s not ‘cancel culture’, it is ‘holding you accountable culture.’ The people being cancelled usually did do something we can mostly agree is bad, and they, as a public figure making money off our views/purchases, need to know when they messed up and why people are unhappy about it. They need consequences and they need to know that they could be completely cancelled if they don’t learn. The problem is that the immediate cancelling is often done in a harsh way. There are (surprise, surprise) people who can’t just express their disappointment/thoughts or desire to no longer support someone in a mature way. And it’s these awful people who ruin cancel culture for the rest because they can’t just go about their lives actually not giving attention to the cancelled person. The other problem is that the event/allegations may not be true, yet the public may not have that info or even want to consider it because they’re ready to cancel anyone.
People online have a lot of power when they come together, and I do think it’s good that the power is often being used to call out wrongdoings. That’s why cancel culture doesn’t need to end. It just needs to be done in a different, more productive way. Less for entertainment and meanness and more for informing and learning. If you have ever on social media of some sort expressed a ‘cancelling’ (because even I have) and think you will again, maybe consider how harsh you may be and how productive doing so is. Make your activism count. And I know it can be hard to decide when to not support someone after a cancel-worthy event. This is the world we’re in.
What are your thoughts on cancel culture? How do you think the internet should handle problematic people?
That’s all for now!