OPINION: The Toxicity of Cancel Culture

Kadee Haderlie, Copy Editor

Cancel culture is a slippery slope that can easily become misused and toxic. It oftentimes stems from misdirected anger and misunderstandings and is not an effective form of activism.

Cancel culture, as many people know, is essentially online shaming and boycotting a person or organization because their actions or words were seen as offensive or harmful. While publicly shaming and ostracizing people has been used for as long as we know, the new online version of it has only come in the last couple of decades with the development of the internet.

To be fair, canceling is at times beneficial. An example of this is the #MeToo movement that took down powerful men who had sexually assaulted women. This is an example of productive cancel culture, but for the majority of the time canceling is ineffective and harmful. The best way to determine whether or not it is necessary to cancel someone is to ask what it will accomplish. Will it help solve societal problems? Or will it needlessly downgrade a person? If someone posts something small but still hurtful and offensive, a better alternative to calling them out is to more privately tell them their offense.

Cancel culture can ruin people’s lives over a misunderstanding or something that could be solved with a sincere apology from the offender. Online posts are only one perspective of a person’s life, and usually a warped one at that. It is easy to judge someone based on one small aspect of their life and completely misinterpret them. For instance, a man named Emmanuel Cafferty was canceled and fired from his job because someone thought he was making white-supremacist hand signs next to a Black Lives Matter protest and made a post on it. The truth however is that he was simply fidgeting with his hands and happened to be next to the protest.

People get angry; I get that. With the way the world is, it is understandable. Seeing someone post something online that goes against someone else’s belief fuels that anger, leading to people lashing out. And while it seems satisfying to cuss people out, it is not an effective way to bring about change. Real activism comes from meetings, negotiations, peaceful protests, but not just lashing out at every random Joe on the internet. This only continues the cycle of hate. 

The regularity of canceling others can lead to a society where people are afraid to express their opinions. If people are too scared that they will be canceled then their voices will not be heard. And some of the people in the canceling party (the group of people who are canceling someone) only out of fear of being canceled themselves.

Cancel culture creates a system of hate and anger, and we already have enough of that in our society. It is not an effective tool and leaves both parties feeling hurt. Canceling someone may make us feel good, but a better solution to negative online comments is good communication.