The negative impact of “Cancel Culture” and how it affects our society

Should we cancel the “Cancel Culture”?

The term “Cancel Culture” isn’t new to us, but believe it or not, it only became universal after 2016, and all because of Twitter. When the singer Kanye West released a song that had a sex reference about Taylor Swift that she did not approve, his wife, Kim Kardashian, posted a video claiming the opposite, giving birth to the hashtag #TaylorSwiftIsCancelled, which would soon initiate the canceling wave.

That was the first of many similar cases, where someone, usually famous, says or does something that people do not agree with and the internet community decides that they should be “culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform” (Vox).

But how far is the “Cancel Culture” going and what is it doing to our society?

Can the “Cancel Culture” be beneficial?

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that the “cancel culture” is valid a lot of times and it is used as an important tool for political and cultural changes in our society. People that have committed irreparable mistakes should be punished and accountable for the consequences of their actions, and it is extremely important for us to be able to point out those errors and claim justice.

The problem begins when we start putting those people in the same category as people who have said or done something with no intention of harming anyone at all but innocently did. There should be a difference between the “call-out culture” and the “cancel culture”, and the lack of division between those groups of people can be very problematic and irresponsible. 

What are we doing wrong?

On the talk show “The View”, the actress and activist Jameela Jamil, who is known for criticizing the approaches of the “cancel culture” on the internet, said that “[…] we now just cancel everyone and what that’s going to do is, it’s going to devalue progress and stop people from wanting to change because they think they will forever be cast aside because of their one sin from the past that they want to improve from, and if we want people to change we have to show them that there is hope to be reaccepted into our society”.

What I think she means by that is that we end up making people afraid of asking questions, questions that might help them learn in the future and become a better person, because of our attitude towards people that have shared a similar behaviour, consequently slowing down our society’s development and scaring possible allies, which is almost the reverse effect that this culture is trying to achieve.

I believe all criticism is valid and necessary, but it’s essential that it comes with an opening for a dialogue or a discussion, not to justify the mistake, but to educate the person who has committed it. We all make mistakes, but there is always room for improvement and if someone demonstrates that they are actively trying to change, they should be given that option instead of getting shutted down.

How can we change it?

It’s safe to say that we are all more educated today than we were five years ago, and that’s completely normal, we’re constantly learning and evolving, and that’s what makes us human. As the progressive Aaron Rose pointed out to Vox, by rejecting the urge of canceling people, we’re not giving up on accountability, we’re just simply defending the idea that people are not incapable of compassion and change.

The way I see it, the issue is when someone is constantly unaccountable and has the privilege and opportunity to change but refuses to do so. With that, I do realize it’s easier to condemn people than ideas, especially ideas that are embedded in structures that we still have today, but I’m much more interested in the root causes as opposed to the symptoms. 

In the words of the television host Trevor Noah, for the Breakfast Club Power radio station, “as a society, what do we hope to do with people who have wronged us? Do we wish to banish them of civilization or do we wish to educate them, inform them, punish them when necessary, and then rehabilitate them and have them come back into our society?”

We often don’t realize the power that the internet has and how platforms like Twitter have given voice to many marginalized people around the world. The “cancel culture”, for a lot of those people, it’s a way of using the only power we have, the one of ignoring the other, to force the people who are in actual positions of power to do something, but we have to be very careful not to undermine it.

The Power of Twitter in the News World

(Picture by Roberto Baldwin / Engadget)

It’s no surprise that Twitter is one of the most powerful social media nowadays when it comes to sharing information with one another. But how did a website that wasn’t originally designed for the purpose of news become so reliable when it comes to verifying information?

First of all, due to its wide accessibility, Twitter has a much more practical way to consume news when compared to newspapers, for example. So, is that enough to make people use it as their main source of information? Let’s break it down a little.

Real or fake?

One of the biggest issues with getting your information from online platforms is that we are often not sure if the source we are using is trustworthy or not.  With Twitter, there are some tools that can help us manage that better, such as verified accounts, headlines, trends and hashtags.

Verified Accounts

Almost every single company will have an official Twitter account, especially big news organizations. Why? Well, it’s a fast and easy way to post any kind of content, and the ability of knowing if an account is verified or not allows you to identify the accuracy of that information.

Now, that’s easier illustrated with business once they don’t usually post fake content about their own brand, but with news that can be a little tricky. Thankfully, Twitter has around 25% of verified journalists, which can guide you through searching what information is real or fake.

In fact, 75% of Twitter users get their news from the platform, being the majority Millenials and Gen Z, who represent around 65% of all users. Being able to select the kind of content directed to you is something that the newer generations have found very suiting. 

On top of that, Twitter users are able to interact and to see other people’s interactions with a post when they click on it. Those interactions can be helpful for the public to collect more information about a determined subject and for the companies to analyse their response to it.

Headlines

Twitter is also well known for allowing a limited number of characters on a post. Some of you might be familiar with the term “clickbait”, which is used to define headlines that immediately catch the reader’s attention and make them want to click on the link to know more about it. 

On Twitter, headlines considered “clickbaits” end up being the most effective ones, due to the flow of engagement of the users when on the platform. But then again, if the clickbait is fake, that could ruin a company’s reputation, so you might want to be careful with that.

Trends and Hashtags

Another useful tool on Twitter is the tab located right beside your timeline, called “trends”. Trends are purposefully directed to your location, interests, and the accounts you follow, so that the user can easily find or search for anything at any given time.

When it comes to promoting news content, just like any other social media platform, Twitter takes advantage of the famous “hashtags”. Hashtags are probably the easiest way to get some extra attention to a certain post or subject people have been talking about lately.

According to the website Oberlo, Twitter users spend an average of 3.39 minutes per session on the platform, so the expectations are high when it comes to quickly finding what they are looking for. That’s why hashtags are so important for both the public and the companies in the business.

Other News Features

As pointed out by the website My GSC, Twitter “is now known for its up-to-the-minute communication from reputable “breaking news” accounts” due to features such as live news broadcasts and placing breaking news tweets at the top of user timelines (Forbes).

The Future of News

It is still early to say if Twitter will eventually overcome the traditional massive media communication platforms, such as Television and Radio, but its influence in the news world leaves no doubt that the competition will only get tougher with time.