I saw a post related to some personality development on social media but I ignore it because at that time I think that all this things are useless only one thing can help you in your future and it is…
Hopefully I don’t get cancelled for this — now or in 10 years.
A Google search for “cancel culture” returns links to a mix of articles spanning the spectrum of praising the movement to calling for the cancellation of canceling. There is plenty to go ‘round — opinions and concrete examples of good and bad — for whatever side of the spectrum you align yourself.
I don’t really have a horse in this race (is this idiom offensive?), but I am skeptical by nature. I’m skeptical of the motives behind anyone calling for the “canceling” of someone — be it personal, political, for clicks, for business purposes, for revenge, whatever. I’m skeptical of public shaming and if it’s the best course of action. I’m skeptical of whether or not every person who is canceled, called out, or publicly shamed is deserving of such treatment.
Let me backtrack a little and clarify that there are certain cases in which canceling is definitely appropriate. In instances where there is clear evidence of a crime and/or wrongdoing, by all means get the pitchforks out.
This begs two questions though — how do we determine what is clear evidence and how many assumptions are we making in instances where the alleged offender had something dug up from years prior?
The first question is difficult to assess — made more so by itchy Twitter fingers and need for instant everything — but not impossible. I’ll take a stab at it (should we stop using this phrase?). In cases of criminality, let the courts go through the process. Review the actual evidence yourself — not just what someone else says about the evidence. Hearsay is not analysis. In cases of moral wrongdoing, make sure we have all the facts — is there proof, is there any significant context being ignored, is this something we merely don’t agree with or is it profoundly offensive?
Assessing the situation when the alleged incident took place years ago is less straightforward. Why is someone digging around this person and what is the motive? We don’t want to shoot the messenger (yet another violent saying, so offensive?), but we do need to know what’s in it for the messenger or the source of the messenger. One’s trash is another’s treasure, in an unfortunate and perverse way.
Now for the alleged offender… Is this an old tweet from a different social climate or when someone was in high school? Did this incident take place just before or after an especially significant event in this person’s life that could have altered their mental state? Is this a story about what happened at a college party with questionable memories? Is there some social context that was present at the time of the incident that it made more acceptable?
How easily we forget “the times” and what was more or less socially acceptable compared to the current standard. Are we losing the forest for the trees when we search for any sign of impropriety and potentially mistake that as an accurate summation of who the alleged offender is?
Nothing excuses blatantly offensive comments or actions (when we can accurately judge them in real time). There may, however, be a subtle difference between calling out/canceling someone and bringing attention to something in order to learn.
On the flipside, let us not confuse a response to appease the masses with real contrition and change. I’m healthily skeptical of both sides of this equation.
Hindsight will always be 20/20 and it’s too easy to look back and judge by today’s standards what took place years ago. The problem is that we are all changing people. Studies have shown that people continually underestimate how much they will change in the future despite acknowledging how much they have changed from their past. So, quite literally, we are (sometimes) condemning and penalizing people who are fundamentally different than the people who committed the offense.
I’m not suggesting that crimes should go unpunished or misdeeds should be rewarded. I am suggesting that we should exercise a little caution, perform due diligence, and make sure that we aren’t being opportunistic to show our virtue at someone else’s expense. Skeletons have a way of emerging from closets at peculiar times. Sometimes it’s best to let the dead be dead so the living can focus on life.
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