Cancel Culture isn’t a thing. Sorry to break it to you. A snappy retort to the idea that someone got yanked from a show, or a platform, whatever you want to focus on, does not a culture create. People have been getting fired from jobs for being dickheads for years. This isn’t a new trend.
All it is, is a democratising and amplifying of the voices of those who don’t like the content of what has been said. The easiest way for anyone to denounce the idea of Cancel Culture is to simply look at the context and make a rational decision. The idea that we don’t do that, again, is nothing new. Moral panics are a well documented phenomenon. Only this time, instead of the cry being “won’t someone think of the children?” it’s more like “won’t someone think of my assumed privilege to say whatever the fuck I like free from criticism, even if it is shitty as fuck.”
The hysteria around it, is another salvo in the Culture Wars (that also don’t exist in the sense that people saying it’s shit to be a dick isn’t a new thing, and being a dick isn’t a fucking culture, it’s an issue.) designed to denigrate the arguments against being a dick. It’s the same as using Liberal of SJW as an insult. The people bandying these terms about, are the people who called the smart kid in school a nerd for being right. Their issues still lie in the same place. Someone else is right, they’re not, and they hate it. Why can’t their being wrong, be right?
There has been some well-intentioned push back against Cancel Culture this week, from some prominent voices in literature. Some who have been censored in the past, some who genuinely worry about censorship. Some might just feel unaccustomed to the idea of having their interactions challenged by people who they deem themselves above. A lot of the issues however spring up from the way we interact on social media.
Twitter has given us an access to people that until recently were off limits for rank and file. A lot of people from all walks of life have passionate views that they wish to share with the world. Sadly they often can’t be encompassed within a single tweet, such as this opinion here. To get that message out on Twitter, I’d have to break it up and let the constituent parts out into a world where they could and would be taken out of context when seen individually. Someone would take something the wrong way. Someone would take offence.
What’s the cure for this? We need to think about how we get our messages across. We need to find a way to engage each other in something other than soundbites. It’s all well and good saying #BeKind, but it’s almost impossible to do that in a world which is designed to create misunderstandings, reinforce entrenchment in ones own ideas and ultimately drive up interactions, positive or negative.
I try my best not to be a dick. I try my best not to argue with people on social media, because negative energy is draining. I can spend a day twisting about what someone has said in response to something I’ve said. We’ve all had those moments when social media has got under our skin. Nuances are often lost, meanings misconstrued, friends fall out, strangers go to war with one and other. If these were conversations we had in the pub, we’d quickly pick up on the inflections, unpack what each other is saying and more often than not, find a middle ground and move on. Yes, even with alcohol involved. You get far less fights in the pub than you do on Twitter.
So there’s my answer really. When life is a bit more normal, and we can do some proper interactions, let’s try and do that. Let’s get down the pub, have a few beers and agree to disagree with good humour and good intent and learn that beyond that one tweet someone made that pissed you off, there’s a load of other things about them that actually makes you both similar. Let’s learn from each other, educate each other, and lift each other up. If we can do that, we’ll be all right. Then we can apply some Cancel Culture* to the Culture Wars**
*Which doesn’t exist.
**Which also doesn’t exist.