Cancel culture is the mass practice of withdrawing support or attacking public figures that have committed an offensive act.
This phenomenon has been taking over multiple social media platforms, exposing influencers and celebrities for their dark pasts and mistakes. Specifically, cancel culture has completely altered the presence of influencers on apps like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. At the mention of cancel culture, most Gen Z’s will instantly think of influencers on these platforms. However, the actual origin of this phenomenon lies in politics.
Examples of political officials highlighting their opponent’s mistakes to cause public outrage dates back to the 1800s. The goal of political cancel culture is to vote or force officials out of office and prevent them from running for any other positions. Since then, cancel culture has evolved to include people of much younger age groups.
Many social media platforms have allowed young kids to gain fame and popularity. Consequently, cancel culture seems to not spare even the youngest of influencers.
The idea of cancel culture has two sides that are worth evaluating: positive accountability and relentless criticism.
Firstly, cancel culture creates an environment that teaches influencers to be accountable for their actions and be careful about the messages they are sending to young kids. While it is human nature to make mistakes, these influencers have to be especially careful of their words and actions. Cancel culture gives supporters and the general public the opportunity to critique influencers on their mistakes. It also allows other influencers to not make the same mistakes and instead learn.
While spreading accountability across all social media platforms should exist, in many cases cancel culture is taken to very extreme levels.
It is natural for younger influencers to make mistakes. Undoubtedly, people have not been afraid to show their outrage through private messaging and commenting on influencer posts. In many cases, these influencers are overwhelmed by various death threats and other ruthless messages, taking a toll on their mental health and livelihood. Even after they apologize, many refuse to forgive.
I recognize that in certain situations, it is not my place to interject and many influencers/celebrities commit inexcusable acts. However, I would much rather see social media used as a method for people to spread education instead of hate.
While influencers have the responsibility of monitoring the messages they are sending to their viewers, the general public has the responsibility of being aware of the comments/messages they are leaving as well. If people are blatantly leaving death threats on posts, others who are younger and easily influenced will believe that these hateful messages are acceptable.
Now more than ever, kids are exposed to social media at very young ages. Other individuals need to monitor the comments they are making so children do not believe that hateful speech is customary.
In my opinion, a middle ground must be reached in which influencers are kept in check and educated instead of receiving dangerous amounts of hate.
It is important to keep influencers accountable, but also equally important to not normalize a social media culture of hatred.
Cover image credit: Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images; AP