Cancel culture ends careers too soon

Ashley Brooke Boyd | Cartoonist

We’re all human. We’re not perfect. We slip up. We learn from our mistakes.

With the power and accessibility of social media, it can be easy to take one look and make an assumption about something you see while scrolling. One push of a button can shape the mindset of the masses. This often causes us to forget about the humanity in everyone. Someone’s reputation or even career can be destroyed by what many would call “cancel culture,” and it begins with mob mentality.

An example this year of cancel culture occurred with James Charles, one of the largest YouTube sensations in the beauty and makeup world. He lost 3 million subscribers when the Internet turned against him. Tweets left and right flooded Twitter “canceling” the star for a sponsored post that was a rival to another popular YouTube star with a similar brand. The backlash he faced resulted in #CancelJamesCharles which instantly trended.

This exists heavily throughout social media and shows how bold people are behind the screen. Left and right the Twitterverse is entertained by the mistakes of others and constantly searches for ways to bring an end to those in the public eye. In many cases, tweeters spread information that may not be factual in hopes of becoming viral.

It’s a constant cycle. It all begins when a celebrity, public figure or company slips up or acts against the norms of society. It only takes one person to screenshot, share and spread their own opinion about the incident on social media for the Internet to hop on the bandwagon and attempt to “cancel” that whoever they are angry with.

Think about it. When every move is broadcast in the limelight for thousands and millions to see, it does make it very easy for the public to cast their own perceptions blindly. However, these individuals are often scrutinized for a mistake made by one person, which does not necessitate the entire take-down of a company. This can go as far as death threats and serious attacks before the person or organization even has time to issue an apology.

Forever 21 was in hot water when a tweet surfaced of an Atkins bar being packaged in an online order. Many customers were outraged and stated that the company was “body shaming” even after Forever 21 issued a statement saying that it “was an oversight on our part and [they] sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused to our customers, as this was not our intention in any way.” All online orders included Atkins bars, not just particular sizes.

Many times an individual hoping to “cancel” a public figure will dig up social media posts from years back, repost and attempt to gain the Internet’s agreement that the person’s reputation should come to an end. The most common strategy used is searching for past racist or biased tweets. While it is true that “what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet,” it is important to fact check and research before rallying behind the newest angry hashtag.

One’s credibility can disappear in the blink of an eye. This can be accomplished solely from someone sitting behind their laptop screen who may not have done enough research on their own.

Yes, it is important to stand up against prejudice or any type of discrimination that a person or company may be involved in. Holding people accountable is essential, but the right approach is what makes the difference. There are appropriate ways to use social media to spread a message, rather than participating in mob mentality when the facts often are not all displayed.

Think about who is behind the screen. Instead of using your page to exploit or call out what you deem is problematic, you can effectively use social media as an educational tool to explain and to make the world a better place. Cancel culture does not resolve the issue. It does not teach or change people. While it may bring the accuser down in ranking, the message will still remain if proper education is not taught.

All Internet users are members of one global community. Don’t police all virtual conduct with unforgiving anger. Make the Twitterverse a place where we can learn to be better together.