Cancel Culture and Why It’s Changing The Way We Think Online

Cancel culture has taken the internet by storm and has made it much easier for people in power to be held accountable for their actions. If you don’t know what cancel culture is don’t worry. The concept is pretty simple: it’s when something or someone is dismissed or rejected online. It has become a popular trend to cancel celebrities and online influencers either after something they have done in their past comes to light or someone else calls them out for their actions.

After Roseanne Barr sent out a racist tweet in May 2018, not only was her show actually canceled but the internet took it upon themselves to call out the comedian. When Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets from 2009 surfaced, the internet immediately canceled him and he had to step down from hosting the Oscars. Most recently, and why I decided to talk about the phenomenon of cancel culture, is the James Charles scandal.

Image courtesy of Hi’s Eye.

I enjoy drama, I’m not going to lie to you. I get a kick out of celebrities arguing with each other online or hearing about the most recent gossip circulating on different platforms. But I was shocked by how the internet went up in flames this past week because of a beauty influencer.

In the past seven days, beauty vlogger James Charles has been burned at the stake socially because of a 43-minute long video uploaded to Youtube by his former friend Tati Westbrook. In the video, Tati calls out James for being a bad friend, promoting her competitor’s product and for being overly aggressive to other men online.

Westbrook and Charles, image courtesy of KQED.

What’s most shocking about this entire situation is how popular the whole ordeal has been. Tati’s original video has almost 50 million views. The New York Times just wrote an article about what’s happening. The topic was trending for days on Twitter. The internet is captivated and people are itching for more.

I think that calling people out for their bad behavior and making sure they don’t reap anymore benefits from their celebrity status can be a good thing, but I believe that the idea behind cancel culture can be toxic.

I believe that during a reckoning on social media, having one person as the target can cause a lot of destruction. People’s entire lives are destroyed within a matter of days because millions of people are talking about them on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I think that in many cases canceling someone for being an awful person is a powerful thing. But in the James Charles case, even Tati had to release another video asking people to leave him alone.

Cancel culture loses its intention quickly with many using it as an opportunity to outright bully people online. It has also aided in the loss of allowing people to grow and educate themselves about the problematic things they have done. Cancel culture starts huge wildfires that can’t be put out.

I think that the potential that platforms like Twitter have for calling those in power out is truly incredible, but I worry that this idea of attacking those we merely disagree with can lead to even bigger problems. We call out celebrities for being awful people by demeaning and berating them online and this becomes normalized because they are deemed a “bad person”. I know that cancel culture isn’t going anywhere, but I think that the way we speak with one another online needs to.

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One thought on “Cancel Culture and Why It’s Changing The Way We Think Online”

  1. I have to admit, I am also completely sucked into this drama regarding James Charles. I have watched Tati’s video, and most recently, I have watched James’s response video. I think you summarized the toxicity of cancel culture very well, and while I was following along with this, I couldn’t help but think how sad and unnecessary this entire situation was. I was shocked to see millions of people go from admiring James and his career, to bashing and “canceling” him in seconds. I also couldn’t agree more with your statement about how we all should communicate with each other online. I think you made many interesting and valid points about this situation, so thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Like

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