WSJ Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards

Kanye West attends the WSJ. Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards at the Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Cancel Culture is dangerous to the ideals of growth and forgiveness.

Cancel culture, call-out culture and outrage culture are all names for the same concept. This concept can be defined as the public shaming or boycotting of an individual for their perceived problematic behavior through social media. Although public shame is by no means new, cancel culture is the epitome of the court of public opinion and anyone is liable to be cancelled.

Cancel culture became a part of the common vernacular in 2015 after the popularization of the term cancelling when referring to public shaming and boycotting of an individual. The trend has seen a spike in recent years and is fueled by social media as several prominent stars were declared cancelled.

One of the most famous artist to be cancelled was Kanye West. Twitter and social media users declared that West was cancelled following a series of remarks and actions including comments on slavery being a choice, along with other outlandish statements. Twitter deemed West cancelled yet his music and fashion line have continued almost untouched.

The idea of a mass boycott for an individual’s statements has proven ineffective against celebrities. James Charles is another high-profile celebrity that was cancelled yet remained popular. Charles is a Youtuber with over 10 million subscribers who made a series of racist remarks and was accused of malicious behavior. Despite the public court declaring Charles cancelled, he only lost a fraction of his fanbase. Today he has almost recovered the number of subscribers.

The idea that cancelling a celebrity will bring about the end of their career is ridiculous but what makes cancel culture so dangerous is that normal people are cancelled too. Although Kanye West and James Charles can survive being cancelled the normal person won’t fare so well. There are plenty of instance where social media activist track down people and cause them to lose jobs over small mistakes.

The way to make change is not to be as judgmental as possible and use hashtags to make someone feel bad said President Obama in a Washington Post interview. People feel accomplished that they did something and they are so woke because they called someone out he continues. “That’s not activism,” said Obama. 

As a society we should strive to find more effective ways to express dissent of behavior without destroying lives and highlighting others failures. Activism should be about building up communities not destroying individuals. Cancel culture places the emphasis on punishment and not education. Everyone is capable of learning and correcting their behavior. We should place more emphasis on sympathy, growth, and forgiveness.

Overall, the concept of cancel culture is dangerous and ineffective. We should be striving to correct improper behavior without destroying someone’s life. If activism is the goal then start with an action not a critique.

Cory Koch is a 20-year-old political science junior from Alexandria, Louisiana.

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