Breaking Down Cancel Culture

by Merceditas Rios



Nowadays, technology has made almost every piece of public information available worldwide, allowing countless people to stay informed and conscious about everyday conflicts. In other words, knowledge is merely a click away from anyone.


Our relation to consuming and producing information has become so intimate over the years that there are many times where the public’s morality can take hold of how information is delivered, perceived, and consumed by others.


Individuals can choose what information they want to consume, but it’s the overall public who decides what will become viral and relevant. This means that most digitalized mediums of information are oftentimes shaped and directed according to the public’s demand. Ideally, this codependency would establish the production of a perfect product and a satisfied consumer; as the information produced and delivered would then be designed to be suitable for everyone.


The issue relies on what the global public does not like or approve, and their way of approaching such matters. Cancel culture, as its name suggests, is a phenomenon that grants consumers the power to ‘cancel’ people, brands, movies, shows, and other cultural aspects that might be classified as problematic or offensive to the consumer. Cancellation derives the given offender to be held accountable by the public, usually aiming for a social decline and loss of support by the public.


This sociocultural movement might be derived from good intentions, as it’s directed to deliver information and entertainment that is informed, conscious, unproblematic, and satisfiable to everyone; but there might be more than this that we as consumers can see. To what extent can this public freedom of expression movement can ostracize an individual’s right to freedom of speech?


For starters, it’s essential to first establish that at least consciously, cancel culture comes from the stance on delivering justice and equality to the public, as well as in achieving the fantasy of global satisfaction and agreement. It originated from consumers looking correct and changing their own targeted product given their reaction and liking. The issue relies on the fact that this is not an individualist movement, but a global movement: it is the major vote choosing over what others must consume and admire. Cancel culture’s penalization is immediate and persisting, punishing anyone who dares to disagree with the public’s opinion. It has become a global bandwagon. Those canceled are sent to an endless social purgatory, with no possible redemption or restoration of their image.


The power of cancel culture doesn’t stop on the reshaping and correcting the product and information, but also the consumer. This is because of the radical belief that deems public perception as the ultimate truth, meaning that anyone whose ideas fail to fall under the public’s beliefs is deemed as wrong and cancellable. It is a constant cycle that only changes by the public’s perception of right and wrong.

Today, cancel culture can be found over every single social media platform, always looking to combat wrongdoing and unacceptable behavior from the ‘influencers’ and the ‘influencees’ within the media. At times, it has succeeded directly calling out and stoping dangerous and offensive views, beliefs or stances; but risks and negative consequences can sometimes out past these positive effects. Cancel culture is immediate and therefore risky, as it does promote the idea that those deemed as bad have no chance of being deemed of redemption or personal growth. It plays with people’s reputation, beliefs, and outlooks in life, as well as how they are seen by the rest of society.


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