You’re Canceled: Cancel culture is toxic, fails to be effective or justified

Leah Tan

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Whenever I scroll through social media, I never fail to come across a snarky comment claiming some celebrity is now “canceled.” When beauty guru James Charles was under fire, it was tempting to take the often exaggerated words as fact and join in on the criticism; however, I quickly stopped myself knowing the importance of hearing both sides before forming an opinion on a person’s actions. On the other hand, “cancel culture” promotes the opposite, and its toxic effects are immediate and detrimental, often leaving the figure unable to apologize or redeem themselves, even if the problem wasn’t severe.

Canceling someone refers to publicly shaming or removing support from a public figure due to certain actions or opinions. Although one could argue cancel culture is just our modern democratization of justice, especially when the defendant had done something severe and ethically wrong, it almost always prompts immature behavior that morphs the criticism into personal attacks.

Unfortunately, because cancel culture often uses social media as its pathway to spread quickly and reach a large audience, its negative effects spread fast and far as well. Worst of all, because everything is on the internet, embarrassing content posted as an ignorant 12-year-old may be the end of one’s career.

Take Kelvin “Brother Nature” Peña, for example. The 21-year-old recently faced heated backlash for racist tweets he posted when he was 12. Before he could apologize for his past statements, his Twitter account was suspended, and he carries the label of racist for the rest of his life. Although it’s easier to determine whether someone should’ve been held accountable for an action they did eight years before, at an age when the brain hasn’t fully developed yet, it begs the question: at what age or time frame should someone begin to be held accountable for their actions?

Take Comedian Shane Gillis for example: Gillis was fired recently after being hired for Saturday Night Live (SNL) once racist and homophobic comments he made the year before resurfaced. Controversy still remains regarding whether NBC’s decision was correct.

These two examples alone prove one of the many flaws of cancel culture; its standards for when it’s okay to cancel someone are extremely ambiguous and the effects are often detrimental and irreversible. Thus, it should be in your best interest to not contribute to toxic culture. It’s easy to prevent it personally: when you come across a new tweet urging others to cancel someone due to a statement or action they did, ask yourself, “Is it worth jumping the bandwagon and ruining their future and life without taking into account any other factors?”

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Leah Tan at ltan@hilite.org

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