Your Past or Your Present?
What defines you best, your past or your present? A term that has taken over the modern digital world is “cancel culture”. Culture staff writer for Vox, Aja Romano describes cancel culture as when a ‘A celebrity or other public figure does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fueled by politically progressive social media, ensues. Then come the calls to cancel the person — that is, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer”.
Living in the time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, gave many people a lot of free time to spend at home and online. This was the perfect incubation period for cancel culture. There have been many celebrities and public figures who have been called out by cancel culture in times of intense scrutiny by the public, such as the 2020 presidential candidates.
In 2018, Kevin Hart was chosen to host the 2019 Oscars. After he was chosen, people on the internet began diving down his Twitter account and discovered these tweets in which Hart was cracking jokes at the expense of the LGBTQ community. Granted, these tweets are in no way acceptable. But, they were all the way from 2010, and I am certain that nobody today is the same person that they were from 2010. The saying “you live and you learn” is not just a saying, I believe that it definitely applies to a large number of people today. Due to the scrutiny that Hart was receiving because of these tweets, he pulled out of hosting the show. He then issued the below statement on Twitter.
Hart ended up apologizing for his past tweets. He also posted on Instagram the same day and stated “ I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive”. In my opinion, this was an incredible way to respond to the haters. There is no reason to attempt to end his career, we must focus on ourselves and grow. Hart learned from his past mistakes, and moved on with his life.
The Political Divide
It is pretty obvious that both sides of the political spectrum have different thoughts about cancel culture. People on the left side believe that cancel culture is a good way to hold people accountable for their actions. On the contrary, people on the right believe that cancel culture is just an excuse to attack people’s character because they hold beliefs that are different to your’s. Former President Donald Trump has spoke about cancel culture various times. At the Republican National Convention in August of 2020, Trump stated “”the goal of cancel culture is to make decent Americans live in fear of being fired, expelled, shamed, humiliated and driven from society as we know it”. In my opinion, Trump here is partially correct. This may be the goal of a portion of those that are in support of cancel culture, but I am sure that a lot of people truly use cancel culture to hold people accountable. It is the same thing on the other side of the spectrum. A portion of those on the right believe that cancel culture is strictly an attempt to make sure that a person can never work again, and that cancel culture is an attempt to censor one’s speech. Take a look at the graphic below from the Pew Research Center.
As you can see from the graphic above, Conservative Republicans, those on the far right of the political spectrum, are least likely to view cancel culture as a means to hold one accountable for their actions. In addition, a large number of Conservative Republicans in contrast to Liberal Democrats view cancel culture as “an attack on traditional American society” and that people use cancel culture as a means of “canceling anyone they disagree with”.
The Harsh Reality
One of my best friends’ older brother, who I will call “Bob” to keep his real identity anonymous, was a victim of cancel culture last summer. Some tweets were created about him, in which a girl anonymously came out and made some sexual assault allegations against him. I do not know Bob well, but I am best friends with his younger brother. His younger brother assured me that these allegations were not true and were simply just an attack against him. I did not know what to believe. For Bob, even if the allegations were false or true, his life would not be the same afterwards. He has since deleted his social media accounts and will likely not try to reactivate them. His former friends have came out on social media and stated that they are disgusted by his actions and will not associate with him again. If these allegations are true, then Bob 100% deserves the hate he was getting. But if they weren’t this has literally ruined his life. This is where the conflict of cancel culture comes in. Were these claims made against him true, or were they false? We do not know, but what can we do in the meantime?
Your Digital Footprint
The rise of cancel culture has definitely taught me one thing. Be aware of what you put out on the internet. Eve Ng, an associate professor at Ohio University had this to say regarding cancel culture. “Cancel culture demonstrates how content circulation via digital platforms facilitates fast, large-scale responses to acts deemed problematic”. The internet can be a scary place. And we must remember that once you put something out there, it circulates in the digital world forever. Now a days, whenever you are applying for a job, your potential employer will look you up online and look into your social media accounts. If they see a dumb tweet of yours, you will likely not get the job. It probably does not even matter if the tweet was years ago, companies can not associate themselves with the risks of hiring you. The internet is a scary place folks, be cautious of how you use it.